A Tale of Two Fascisms: Labour Productivity Growth and Competition Policy in Italy, 1911-1951
This paper offers the first quantitative assessment of labour productivity dynamics within Italy's industrial sector over the period 1911-1951 and of their links with competition policy. By relying on a newly compiled dataset and on fresh labour productivity estimates, we find that the earlier period of the Fascist era was characterised by a productivity boom, which ended and was reversed following the switch to a more interventionist industrial policy. In the overall period 1911-1951, new industries did not perform any better than the old ones and labour productivity growth was explained largely by internal productivity growth within industrial sectors rather than from the contribution of structural change from old to new industries. Finally, we find that reductions in the level of competition, induced by specific policies, were associated with lower productivity growth. This paper thus casts a shadow on the optimist accounts of Fascist industrial policy and confirms the findings of a revisionist literature minimising the positive role played by the State in the earlier stages of Italian industrialization.
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