Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Fascistville: Mussolini's New Towns and the Persistence of Neo-Fascism

Carillo, Mario Francesco (2018): Fascistville: Mussolini's New Towns and the Persistence of Neo-Fascism.

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This paper studies the link between local public spending and popular support and investigates its persistence across institutional transitions and over the long term. I explore the foundation of Mussolini's New Towns (Città di Fondazione) in Fascist Italy, a major infrastructure investment which played a central role in the fascist propaganda. Employing municipality-level data before and after the intervention, together with information on the timing of each New Town construction, I find that the intervention enhanced the electoral support for the Fascist Party, favoring the emergence of the Regime. Furthermore, I document a positive link between the New Towns and the electoral support for the Neo-Fascist Party, which persisted until the present day. Using individual survey data, I document that respondents near the Fascist New Towns built 70 years ago currently display political attitudes in line with the fascist ideology. Results are not driven by the geographic conditions that induced the location of the New Towns, socioeconomic differences, and migration patterns. Furthermore, I find no spurious effect of the New Towns that were planned but not built. The findings suggest that public spending may have long-lasting effects on political and cultural attitudes, which persist across major institutional changes.

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