Emanuele Felice (UAB)
"The roots of a dual equilibrium: GDP, productivity and structural change in the Italian regions in the long-run (1871-2011)"
This paper explores the long-run evolution of regional inequality in Italy over the course of 140 years, from around Unification (1871) until our days (2011). To this scope, a unique and up-to-date dataset of GDP per capita, GDP per worker (productivity) and employment, at the NUTS II level and at current borders, for the whole economy and its three branches – agriculture, industry, services – is here presented and discussed. Sigma and beta convergence are tested for GDP per capita, productivity (GDP/employment) and workers per capita (employment/population), and differences between the inequality patterns of these three variables are confronted. Four phases in the history of regional inequality in post-unification Italy are identified, roughly coinciding with the different political eras of the country: mild divergence (the liberal age), strong divergence (the two world wars and Fascism), general convergence (the golden age) and the “two-Italies” polarization. In this last period, for the first time GDP and productivity, as well as workers per capita and productivity, have followed opposite paths: the North-South divide increased in GDP, decreased in productivity.