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Happy 150th Birthday Italy? Institutions and Economic Performance Since 1861

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  • Paolo Di Martino

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  • Michelangelo Vasta

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Abstract

In the last twenty years the Italian economy showed claer signs of structural crisis. Using a variety of secondary literature, this paper claims that the recent decline must be seen as part of a long-term trend of sub-optimal performance driven by the inability of the country to remain congruent with the tecnological frontier. This problem, in turn, is the result of week and/or poorely-enforced rules that regulate economic activity. Specifically, legal institutions in areas such as firms’ governance (bankruptcy law; balance sheets regulation, use of inefficient forms of governance), banking supervision, education, and tax compliance, favoured “extractive” behaviour from firms’ owners, discouraged businesses to reach a size compatible with innovation in advanced sectors, and frustrated investment in education, research, and innovation. The paper also analyses the origin of this institutional failure and uses the example of football to show the persistency of inefficient rules. The picture that emerges is that institutional failure finds its origin in the feature of the process of State formation and, later, in the post WWII political equilibrium. Distorted institutions serve the interests of a constantly-changing minority, big enough to protect the status quo

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Di Martino & Michelangelo Vasta, 2012. "Happy 150th Birthday Italy? Institutions and Economic Performance Since 1861," Department of Economics University of Siena 662, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:662
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    1. Colli, Andrea & Rinaldi, Alberto, 2015. "Institutions, Politics, and the Corporate Economy," Enterprise & Society, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 249-269, June.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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