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Measuring Wellbeing: A History of Italian Living Standards

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  • Vecchi, Giovanni

    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

Abstract

Italy - born as one nation on March 17, 1861 - was a poor and backward country in the most Southern part of Europe. Most Italians lived a short and troubled life, with little prospect of giving their children a better future. That was how it had been for centuries in the Italian peninsula. In one and half centuries, the Italians astonished us by turning Italy into a country where living standards are among the highest in the world. The Dolce Vita found its home in Italy. How did such a transformation come about? The book provides an answer based on an impressive volume of newly-constructed historical statistics, and does so aided by an easilyt accessible and enjoyable narrative. In more than 20 years of research, Giovanni Vecchi has gathered tens of thousands of family accounts, so that the themes of economic inequality, poverty and vulnerability can at last be placed at the centre of the book. This history is written from the bottom up, starting with the elementary data, those coming from the lives of individuals and households. Measuring Wellbeing builds up the "macro" picture (the history) from the "micro" data (the stories). The concept of wellbeing is, by its very nature, multidimensional and must therefore include the non-monetary aspects of life: nutrition, health and education, but also less tangible elements such as freedom or the possibility to exercise one's political rights. The book deals with this polyhedral nature of wellbeing using a uniform method. Great effort has been taken not to exercise the reader with technical details, but tables and graphs have nevertheless been included because they are decisive tools for readers to gain insight and keep up their guard against the fallacy of what at first sight may seem to be incontrovertible.

Suggested Citation

  • Vecchi, Giovanni, 2017. "Measuring Wellbeing: A History of Italian Living Standards," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199944590.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199944590
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric Gaisie, 2017. "Living standards in pre-independent Ghana: evidence from household budgets," HHB Working Papers Series 7, The Historical Household Budgets Project.
    2. Paolo Di Martino & Emanuele Felice & Michelangelo Vasta, 2017. "The curious case of the coexistence of two “access-orders”: Explaining the Italian regional divide," Department of Economics University of Siena 758, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    3. A'Hearn Brian & Amendola Nicola & Vecchi Giovanni, 2016. "On Historical Household Budgets," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 137-176.
    4. Giulia Mancini, 2017. "Women’s labor force participation in Italy, 1861-2016," HHB Working Papers Series 8, The Historical Household Budgets Project.

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