Growth and Crisis
Edited by Matilde Mas and Robert Stehrer
Chapter 6: Spain and Italy: Catching-up and Falling Behind – Two Different Tales of Productivity Slowdown
Matilde Mas, Carlo Milana and Lorenzo Serrano 6.1 INTRODUCTION Spain and Italy are two Southern European countries that have a great deal in common, even though their points of departure were very different. Italy’s entrance into modernity can be traced back to the end of World War II, while in Spain the 1936–39 Civil War – and the dark years that followed it – delayed its moving forward until the 1960s. This chapter is devoted to analysing the path followed by these two countries in the long run, allowing the convergence process that has taken place between the two countries over the last years to be put into perspective. Spain was, in 1970, an isolated country in the international scene, with a dictator in power. On the other hand, Italy was one of the founding countries of the present European Union (EU), being a democracy since the end of World War II. However, they had many points in common: their agricultural sector had a large weight in the aggregate; they had similar industrial specialization, with an important presence of traditional sectors such as textiles, footwear and furniture; both countries had a source of wealth in the tourist sector; in addition, they also shared low activity rates, especially women’s, and low schooling levels, and so on. At that time, Spanish economists looked to Italy as the example to follow. Thirty years later, things had changed dramatically, with Spain almost catching-up with Italian per capita income. Italy was the first of the Southern...
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