Why Italy and not Spain? Comparing two industrialization processes from a dissagregate time series perspective
In 1996 and 1997 Economic History Review published two appraisals of recent contributions on the contemporary economic development of Spain and Italy prior to the Second World War. In his study of Spain, James Simpson described the situation as one of slow growth. By contrast, Giovanni Federico entitled his study Italy, 1860-1940: a little known success story. The assessments of these two authors were based on the growing quantitative evidence of the healthy growth experienced in the Italian economy during the giolittiano period, in contrast to the relative stagnation of the Spanish economy during the second half of the nineteenth century, especially during the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. A comparison of the evolution in industrial output shows that this situation is the result of marked differences in the rate of industrial development. The indices of industrial output that are available support the opinions presented in seminal historiographical studies of the development of nineteenth century Spain and Italy. In 1975, Nadal considered that industrialization in Spain had failed to take a strong foothold; after a promising early start, the sector lost momentum as the last thirty years of the nineteenth century wore on. In contrast, the pioneer works of Gerschenkron stated that only during the final decade of the nineteenth century did a break occur in the behaviour of Italian industry, which was to represent the beginning of the process of industrialization.
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