Paris Saclay Seminar

Network, Diversity, and Economic Performance: Evidence from the Pontine Marshes (1932-41)

Fabio Mariani (UCLouvain)

Sep 21, 2023, 15:15

ENS Paris-Saclay



This paper examines the role of social networks and diversity on migrants' economic performance in an agricultural setting. We rely on a historical episode (i.e., the resettlement of the Pontine Marshes in Italy, 1932-41) that led to a quasi-random allocation of thousands of families to farming plots. Using detailed information on the universe of settlers, we create measures of networks (families from the same origin) and diversity (fractionalization and linguistic similarity) in a narrow vicinity. We find that a larger network has a positive effect on productivity while diversity has a non-linear effect and depends on the economic potential of the plot. We further explore the mechanisms behind these results trying to shed light on the role of social bonds, cooperation, and learning.

Joint work with Frédéric Docquier, Alice Dominici, and Martin Fernandez Sanchez

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