Gianni Marciante

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bologna. I received my PhD in Economics from the University of Warwick in June 2023.

My primary research fields are Economic History and Political Economy. More specifically, my current research agenda focuses on the causes and consequences of nation-building policies in Italy during the 19th century.

You can find my CV here.


Working Papers

When Nation Building Goes South: Draft Evasion, Government Repression, and the Origins of the Sicilian Mafia   ( Draft )
Abstract: Can coercive nation building foster organised crime? I provide evidence on this question by showing how a coercive nation-building policy -- conscription -- contributed to the emergence of the Sicilian mafia in the 19th century. This policy generated widespread demand for private protection in Sicilian society, especially after a government-led repression campaign run in 1863 to curb large-scale draft evasion on the island. Using a novel dataset on episodes of government repression and historical mafia presence, I find that the Sicilian mafia was more likely to develop in towns victimised by the repression campaign. To infer causality, I use an instrumental variables approach based on a network of least-cost paths connecting garrison towns that were visited by the army during the 1863 expedition. I find suggestive evidence that increasing distrust in government in repressed towns helps account for the early spread of the Sicilian mafia.
Presented at:
  • 2023: CLEAN Seminar Series, Bocconi University – Economic History Seminar, Universitat Pompeu Fabra – University of Bologna – "Institutions, Civil Society and Socio-Economic Prosperity" Conference, Bocconi University – ASREC Conference, Harvard University – University of Manchester (online)
  • 2022: 47th Spanish Economic Association Simposio, Valencia – Online Economic History Workshop – University of Zurich (online) – 92nd SEA Annual Meeting, Fort Lauderdale – OWL Workshop, University of Warwick – Graduate Economic History Seminar Series, LSE – ASREC Europe Conference, University of Notre Dame London – Applied Young Economist Webinar – 34th EAEPE Annual Conference, Parthenope University of Naples – XIX World Economic History Congress, Paris – WEAI Annual Conference, Portland (online) – CAGE Summer School, University of Warwick – 14th EHES Conference, University of Groningen – 4th PhD Economics and Finance Workshop, QMUL – Annual Cliometric Conference, Vanderbilt University – 11th Annual Workshop on Growth, History and Development, Southern Denmark University – EHS Annual Conference, University of Cambridge – Tor Vergata University of Rome
  • 2021: 14th PhD Workshop in Economics, Collegio Carlo Alberto – EHS PhD Thesis Workshop (online) – ESRC Midlands Graduate School Conference, University of Birmingham (online)

Women's Education and Fertility in Italy at the Onset of the Demographic Transition   ( Abstract - Draft available soon )
Abstract: This paper studies the impact of women’s education on their fertility choices in Italy at the onset of the Italian demographic transition (1881-1901). We use newly digitised data to measure the literacy rate of school-age females in 1881 and the child-woman ratio in 1901, both at the district (circondario) level, and we employ these variables as proxies for, respectively, female education and fertility behaviour. We find that districts with higher literacy rates for young females in 1881 showed lower fertility levels twenty years later. For causal estimation we develop an instrumental variables strategy based on the scattered opening of the central government-financed normal schools (teacher-training colleges) from the Italian unification until 1873. Evidence from several identification strategies suggests that the negative relationship between young women's education and fertility we uncover is causal.
Presented at:
  • 2023: 93rd SEA Annual Meeting, New Orleans – University of Bologna – EHS Annual Conference, University of Warwick
  • 2022: Sapienza University of Rome – 7th ASE Annual Meeting, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna

Work in Progress

Educational Television and Women’s Labour Market Participation in Italy: Evidence from the Telescuola TV programme
Abstract: In this paper we study the effect of the launch of an educational TV programme in Italy, titled Telescuola, on women’s inclusion in the Italian labour market in the mid-20th century. This programme, broadcast in Italy from October 1958 to June 1966, was designed to allow children living in communities where no secondary school existed to complete the full cycle of compulsory education. Telescuola Viewing Groups (PAT) were spontaneously arranged in various places, including reformatories, jails, sanatoria, hospitals, and parishes. Taking advantage of both spatial heterogeneity in the presence of PATs and exogenous variation in TV signal strength resulting from topographic factors, we use an instrumental variables approach to estimate the causal impact of Telescuola on the change in female labour force participation across Italian municipalities from 1951 to 1961.

Nation Building Through Railway Expansion


2023 Spring: Teaching Assistant, EC201 Macroeconomics 2 (UG)
  University of Warwick
  Teaching Evaluation: 4.75/5 (Question 2) - Excellent Teaching Award
2021 Fall: Teaching Assistant, EC201 Macroeconomics 2 (UG)
  University of Warwick
  Teaching Evaluation: 4.74/5 (Question 2) - Excellent Teaching Award
2020 Spring: Lead Teaching Assistant, EC201 Macroeconomics 2 (Diploma)
  University of Warwick
  Teaching Evaluation: 4.89/5 (Question 2)
2019 Fall: Lead Teaching Assistant, EC201 Macroeconomics 2 (Diploma)
  University of Warwick
  Teaching Evaluation: 4.86/5 (Question 2)
2019 Spring: Teaching Assistant, EC201 Macroeconomics 2 (UG)
  University of Warwick
  Teaching Evaluation: 4.66/5 (Question 2)
2018 Fall: Teaching Assistant, EC201 Macroeconomics 2 (UG)
  University of Warwick
  Teaching Evaluation: 4.84/5 (Question 2)
2016 Spring: Teaching Assistant, Principles of Economics (UG)
  Politecnico di Milano
2012 Fall: Tutor, Economics and International Economics (MBA)
  MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Business


Department of Economics
University of Bologna
Piazza Scaravilli, 2
40126 Bologna