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Law enforcement and political participation: Italy, 1861–65

Antonio Accetturo (), Matteo Bugamelli and Andrea Lamorgese ()

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2017, vol. 140, issue C, 224-245

Abstract: Does tougher law enforcement positively affect political participation? This paper addresses this question, which hinges upon the causal impact of formal institutions on informal ones, by using a historical event from 19th century Italy. This event was the Pica Law, which was introduced in 1863 to fight a surge of criminal violence in Southern Italy and to ensure a safer environment for wealthy people, the only ones allowed to vote at that time. Our main finding, obtained using a spatial regression discontinuity technique in a diff-in-diffs framework, is that voter turnout greatly increased in those areas where the Pica Law was applied, compared with bordering and otherwise similar areas. This result is confirmed by a number of robustness checks and placebo exercises and turns out to be persistent over time.

Keywords: Turnout; Electoral results; Spatial discontinuity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 R5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:140:y:2017:i:c:p:224-245