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Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., Zingales, L. (2016). Long term persistence. Journal of the European Economic Association 14-6, 1401–1436

We study whether a positive historical shock can generate long-term persistence in development. We show that Italian cities that achieved self-government in the Middle Ages have a higher level of civic capital today than similar cities in the same area that did not. The size of this effect increases with the length of the period of independence and its intensity. This effect persists even after accounting for the fact that cities did not become independent randomly. We conjecture that the Middle-Age experience of self-government fostered self-efficacy beliefs—beliefs in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals—and this positive attitude, transmitted across generations, enhances civic capital today. Consistently, we find that fifth-graders in former free city-states exhibit stronger self-efficacy beliefs and that these beliefs are correlated with a higher level of civic capital. (JEL: O43, P16, O10)

Authors

Guiso, Luigi

Prof. Guiso joined the Institute in January 2007 from Università di Roma Tor Vergata. He has been visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business. He is a Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, London and Director of the CEPR Finance Programme. He...

Sapienza, Paola

Paola Sapienza is a professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management. She also serves as a faculty fellow for the Zell Center for Risk Research, a research affiliate of the Center for Economic Policy Research and a faculty research fellow in the National Bureau of Economic Research's...

Zingales, Luigi