In this paper we study the impact of cooperative banks on local economic development. Working on Italian municipality data in the period 2001-2011, we find that this type of banks plays a distinct role in enhanced local economic performance – particularly income, employment and firms’ birth growth rates – and that their presence is more effective compared to conventional banks. This evidence upholds the view that their more widespread presence would be beneficial, especially in those areas that suffer from lower economic growth, and accords with other studies underlining the decisive role of cooperative banks in supporting traditional credit provision to local borrowers.
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