No. 422 - Productivity growth in Italy: a tale of a slow-motion change

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by M. Bugamelli, F. Lotti, M. Amici, E. Ciapanna, F. Colonna, F. D'Amuri, S. Giacomelli, A. Linarello, F. Manaresi, G. Palumbo, F. Scoccianti, E. Sette January 2018

Productivity is the main factor holding back long-term economic growth in Italy.

Since the second half of the 1990s, productivity growth has been feeble both by historical standards and compared with the other main euro area countries. Understanding the reasons for such a performance and finding the most effective policy levers is crucial to increase Italy's potential growth rate.

Against this background, we provide a detailed analysis of the data and a critical review of the available empirical evidence to identify both the structural weaknesses limiting productivity growth and the strengths of the Italian productive system that may support it looking forward. Since the end of the 1990s and more intensively since the second half of 2011, the reform effort has been particularly effective in the regulation of product and labor markets and industrial policy. On other factors which are very relevant for productivity dynamics, the reform action has been less effective so far.

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