Mario F. Carillo
- University of Naples Federico II
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Zoom Webinar https://univr.zoom.us/j/89682757274
This paper explores the link between infrastructures built by autocratic regimes and political values in the wake of the transition to democracy and in the long run. In Fascist Italy (1922-43), Mussolini founded 147 “New Towns” (Città di Fondazione). Exploring municipality-level data before and after their construction, I document (i) that the New Towns enhanced local electoral support for the Fascist Party and (ii) that the effect persisted through democratization, enhancing local support for Italy’s neo-fascist party, which endured until recent times. Placebo estimates of New Towns planned but not built and spatial regression discontinuity design both support a causal interpretation of this pattern. Survey respondents near the New Towns currently exhibit preferences for a stronger leader in politics, for nationalism, and for the fascists as such. The effect is greater for individuals who lived under the Fascist Regime and is transmitted across generations inside the family. The findings suggest that authoritarian leaders may exploit public investment programs to induce a favorable view of their ideology, which persists across institutional transitions and over the long term.