Exports, imports and growth
The nexus between trade and economic growth in Italy has been widely debated by historiography. However, there are no long run analyses on this topic that cover the whole span from Unification to present days. This paper contributes to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between real exports, imports and GDP in Italy from 1863 to 2004 by using cointegration analysis and causality tests. The outcome suggests that these variables comove in the long run but the direction of causality varies across time. In the period prior to the First World War import growth led GDP growth that in turn led export growth. Conversely, in the post-Second World War period we have a strong bidirectionality between imports and exports consequent on the increase in intra-industry trade. We also find a weak support for export-led growth and growth-led imports. This suggests that exports were not the only or the main driver of economic growth. There was probably a multiplicity of factors at work, among which high rates of capital formation and the expansion of internal demand probably stood out.
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