The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach

49 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2013

See all articles by Andrea Brandolini

Andrea Brandolini

Bank of Italy

Giovanni Vecchi

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Faculty of Economics

Date Written: October 25, 2011

Abstract

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

Brandolini, Andrea and Vecchi, Giovanni, The Well-Being of Italians: A Comparative Historical Approach (October 25, 2011). Bank of Italy Economic History Working Paper No. 19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2239015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2239015

Andrea Brandolini (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Roma, Rome 00184
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+390647923568 (Phone)
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Giovanni Vecchi

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Via Columbia n.2
Rome, rome 00100
Italy
+39 6 7259 5730 (Phone)
+39 6 2020 500 (Fax)

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