Carlo Bastasin and Gianni Toniolo provide a much-needed, up-to-date economic history of Italy from unification in 1861 to the present day. They show how, thirty years after unification, Italy began a long phase of convergence with more advanced economies so that by the late twentieth century Italy’s per capita income reached the levels of Germany, France and the U.K. From the mid-1990s, however, the Italian economy declined first in relative and then absolute terms. The authors describe the intertwined financial and institutional crises that eroded trust in the political system and in the economy at the exact juncture when new technologies and markets transformed the global economy. Longstanding problems of uneven levels of education and obsolete bureaucratic and judicial practices deepened the division between economically vibrant regions and the rest, causing polarization, political instability and rising public debt. Italy’s contemporary malaise makes the country a test-case for understanding the implications of protracted declines in productivity and the flattening of GDP growth for the stability of western democracies, resulting in populism, mistrust and political instability.
The Rise and Fall of the Italian Economy
Release Date: September 7, 2023