The Economic History Review

From the little divergence to the little divide: Real wages in the Kingdom of Sicily (1540‒1850)

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Authors: Tancredi Buscemi
Published online: June 12, 2024DOI: 10.1111/ehr.13359

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This paper challenges the commonly held belief that Southern Italy was a homogeneous, backwards region by reconstructing real wages in the kingdom of Sicily over three centuries. The findings suggest more than one divide in pre-unitarian regions, with Sicilian living standards being structurally higher than the Italian average. This study has important implications for traditional debates in European and Italian economic history, such as the timing of the little divergence and the Italian economic downturn. Additionally, it raises new questions regarding the origins of the regional divide, highlighting a heterogeneous picture of regional trends and the need for broader spatial coverage in wage studies to avoid the potential bias of single-city analysis.

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