Italy's economic growth over its 150 years of unified history did not occur at a steady pace nor was it balanced across sectors. Relying on an entirely new input (labour and capital) database by us built and presented in the Appendix, together with new Banca d'Italia estimates of GDP by sector, this paper evaluates the different labour productivity growth trends within the Italian economy's sectors, as well as the contribution of structural change to productivity growth. Italy's performance is then set in an international context: a comparison of sectoral labour productivity growth rates and levels within a selected sample of countries (UK, US, Germany, Japan, India) allows us to better time, quantify and gauge the causes of Italy's catching-up process and subsequent more recent slowdown. Finally, the paper analyses the proximate sources of Italy's growth, relative to the other countries, in a standard growth accounting framework, in an attempt also to disentangle the contribution of both total factor productivity growth and capital deepening to the country's labour productivity dynamics.
Published in 2013 in: G. Toniolo (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy since Unification, Oxford University Press, New York 2013