This paper investigates the role played by public capital on the production level of Italian regions by specifically accounting for the quality of institutions. Our analysis, carried out over the period 2000-2019, benefits from the use of a rich dataset on public expenditures which allows us to build the regional series of public capital stock by distinguishing among public institutions in charge of the investments and sectors of intervention. While controlling for several contextual variables (human capital, social capital, technological capital, population density), main results show that public capital has a positive and significant effect on production. Most interestingly, looking at the Mezzogiorno's regions, public capital carried out by local institutions turns out to have a lower impact than in the rest of the Italian regions. On the other hand, central bodies in the South exhibit an impact higher than the average. Moreover, institutions' quality exhibits a positive and significant effect on regional economic performance. These results cast serious doubts about the actual capacity of the local Southern administrations to effectively manage the enormous resources of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and of the new European Union cohesion framework 2021-2027. Our results are also relevant for other European regions that, featuring structural traits similar to Southern Italian regions, are expected to face the same difficulties in managing public funding.

Public capital and institutions' quality in the Italian regions

Aresu, Federico;Marrocu, Emanuela;Paci, Raffaele
2022

Abstract

This paper investigates the role played by public capital on the production level of Italian regions by specifically accounting for the quality of institutions. Our analysis, carried out over the period 2000-2019, benefits from the use of a rich dataset on public expenditures which allows us to build the regional series of public capital stock by distinguishing among public institutions in charge of the investments and sectors of intervention. While controlling for several contextual variables (human capital, social capital, technological capital, population density), main results show that public capital has a positive and significant effect on production. Most interestingly, looking at the Mezzogiorno's regions, public capital carried out by local institutions turns out to have a lower impact than in the rest of the Italian regions. On the other hand, central bodies in the South exhibit an impact higher than the average. Moreover, institutions' quality exhibits a positive and significant effect on regional economic performance. These results cast serious doubts about the actual capacity of the local Southern administrations to effectively manage the enormous resources of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and of the new European Union cohesion framework 2021-2027. Our results are also relevant for other European regions that, featuring structural traits similar to Southern Italian regions, are expected to face the same difficulties in managing public funding.
9788868514136
Public capital stock; Productivity; Italian regions; Institutions' Quality
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/345877
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