Cultivating the “Fourth Shore”: the effect of Italian farming in colonial Libya, 1920-1942
Mattia Bertazzini - Oxford University
The Institute of Economics will hold a meeting of its Seminar Series on Tuesday, January 28, 2020: Mattia Bertazzini, from Oxford University, will present the paper "Cultivating the 'Fourth Shore': The effect of Italian farming in colonial Libya, 1920-1942".
What was the effect of the agricultural settlement of European farmers in Africa during the colonial period? On the one hand, white immigrants imported skills and capital but, on the other, they took control of local resources. By looking at the short-term effect of Ital- ian farming in colonial Libya, I study the relative impact of these two mechanisms. Through regression analysis on a novel village database, I show that - in 1939 - proximity to Italian farms was linked to a sig- nificant drop in land productivity in Libyan villages within a 50 km radius. Placebo and IV tests, based on the timing of Italian settle- ment show that the relationship is causal. Lower land productivity can be explained by the adoption of land-extensive strategies, imple- mented by indigenous cultivators to counteract a labor and livestock (camels) drain operated by Italian farms. White clusters show sig- nificantly higher levels of land productivity compared to their Libyan neighbors.