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The economic impact of Italian colonial investments in Libya and in the Horn of Africa, 1920-2000

Bertazzini, Mattia Cosma (2019) The economic impact of Italian colonial investments in Libya and in the Horn of Africa, 1920-2000. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This dissertation examines the micro-level effects of Italian colonial investments in Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, and sheds light on both their short and long-term impact. It focuses on two flagship projects, launched by the dictator Benito Mussolini during the 1930s, namely the construction of a modern road network in the Horn of Africa and the settlement of Italian farmers in Libya. The contributions are twofold. First, this thesis focuses on types of colonial investment that have not been studied before, while looking at a group of colonies that have previously been neglected by the cliometrics revolution in African economic history. Thus, it enhances our understanding of the effect of colonialism in general and, on Africa, in particular. Second, by exploiting a set of quasi-natural experiments from the history of Italian colonialism to explore the micro-effect of specific policies, this thesis also contributes to the economic geography and development literatures that have looked at the determinants of agglomeration and productivity in developing countries. It is structured around three substantive chapters. The first one studies the effect of Italian road construction in the Horn of Africa on economic development and shows how locations that enjoyed a first-mover advantage in transportation thanks to the Italian road network are significantly wealthier today. The second substantive chapter assesses the effect of Italian agricultural settlement on indigenous agriculture in Libya at the end of the colonial period and pinpoints an adverse effect of Italian presence on Libyan productivity. Finally, the third substantive chapter studies the effect of the expulsion of Italian farmers from Libya after World War II and finds a reduction in agricultural commercialization in affected districts following the shock.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Mattia Cosma Bertazzini
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Rosés, Joan and Gardner, Leigh
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/4023

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