Chapter 7: Italy: Continuity and change in welfare state retrenchment
Three interacting conditions explain the characteristics of the Italian economic and social model and its recent evolution: the economic and territorial divide, the huge public debt and the political instability. 1. Dualism. A predominance of small, family firms and a familistic welfare state place Italy firmly within the Southern European model (Karamessini 2008). However, in the industrial district economy of Northern Italy a different dynamic interaction of economic, social, political and cultural factors is found that conforms more to the continental model of coordinated market economies. Two production systems are thus nested within the Italian model. Over time, and with the help of administrative decentralization, the economic divide has trickled down to the social sphere so that two varieties of welfare have been developed within the national familistic welfare system. This divide, evident in education, health and social care, is characterized by a Northern model of local services, which for quality and quantity tends towards the continental model, and a Southern model which is struggling with economic, structural and political difficulties. The North–South dualism of the production and social models is the most distinctive trait of the Italian model (Simonazzi et al. 2009).
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