Log in to access the full article.
Abstract This article aims to analyse the effects of plague on the long-term development of Italian cities, with particular attention to the 1629-30 epidemic. By using a new dataset on plague mortality rates in 56 cities covering the period c. 1575-1700, an economic geography model verifying the existence of multiple equilibria is estimated. It is found that cities severely affected by the 1629-30 plague were displaced to a lower growth path. It is also found that plague caused long-lasting damage to the size of Italian urban populations and to urbanization rates. These findings support the hypothesis that seventeenth-century plagues played a fundamental role in triggering the process of relative decline of the Italian economies.