The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach
49 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2013
Date Written: October 25, 2011
The paper describes the evolution of the well-being of the Italians during the 150 years since the country's unification. The progress in material standard of living was substantial, with GDP per capita growing 13 times between 1861 and 2010 and hours of work (and hence effort) falling considerably, but was roughly in line with that experienced by most other European countries. By relying on a novel database on household budgets, the paper shows that economic growth was accompanied by a long-run reduction of inequality that appears however to have been reversed in the last two decades. Progress was not limited to the economic domain: educational attainment improved considerably, although less than in other countries; on the other hand, the increase in life expectancy was spectacular and brought Italians to lead the international ranking.
Keywords: Italian history, human progress, income inequality
JEL Classification: D31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation