The Dynamics of Export Specialisation in the Regions of the Italian Mezzogiorno: Persistence and Change
In the most recent years, the pattern of economic growth of the Italian Mezzogiorno has undergone a significant transformation. Up to the beginning of the 1990s, the whole area was by and large characterised by a single macroeconomic model of income and employment, whose dynamics were strongly based upon State intervention. By the early 1990s, the end of the special public support for the Mezzogiorno - as a consequence, to a large extent, of the completion of the Single European Market in 1992 - was only partially followed by appropriate legislative tools for the support of less favoured areas. Since then, the Italian southern regions as a whole have gone through a worsening of their economic fundamentals, particularly with regard to income growth and unemployment. At the same time, the differentials in the paths of socio-economic development within the southern area have been strengthening, confirming the existence of "many Mezzogiorni" previously noted by the specialised literature. Our current research line aims at providing the basis for devising a policy framework within which trying to identify new directions to untangle regional "vulnerability", with particular reference to the dramatic changes imposed by internationalisation and globalisation processes. The objective of the present paper is to investigate to what extent the evolution of export patterns and performance by Mezzogiorno province fits in the picture of intra-area growing differentiation. The combined significance of cumulativeness and gradual change in specialisation patterns is examined by testing the extent of continuity in the sectoral composition of trade specialisation profiles by province during the period 1985-2000. The export performance and the models of specialisation seem to bear out the view of "many Mezzogiorni" and show that peripheral regions and provinces have adopted rather distinct strategies to adjust to the rapidly increasing economic integration.
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