Back to Growth? The Views of the Italian Elites

Research project

For the past 25 years, Italy has recorded the weakest economic growth performance of the OECD. The ailing performance of the Italian economy is not just a domestic problem, but also a source of fragility for the whole Eurozone. How to get out of this impasse? This question is particularly timely in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis and the launching of the Next Generation EU programme, which aims to transform fundamentally the trajectory of the Italian economy.

This research project, led by Prof. Lucio Baccaro (MPIfG Director) and Dr. Arianna Tassinari (Senior Researcher), aims to investigate the causes of Italy’s longstanding economic stagnation and the future prospects of economic growth in Italy, as they are perceived by the country's political and economic elites. Drawing on extant research on growth models, which has highlighted that viable models of growth rest on background consensus among political and economic elites about growth-enhancing policies, in this project we focus on the ideas of Italian elites about the Italian economy, its problems, and desirable reforms.
In light of this, the project asks:

  • Is there an ideational consensus among Italian political and economic elites about the causes of Italy’s economic woes, and about the possible strategies to be pursued to rekindle growth in the post Covid-19 era?
  • If so, what are the features of this consensus? If not, what are the points of disagreement?

To answer these questions, in autumn 2021 we will conduct open-ended interviews with as broad as possible a spectrum of individuals that occupy peak positions in various spheres of Italian political and economic life, such as politicians, top civil servants and policy advisors, leaders of key public institutions, trade unions and employer organizations, business leaders and influential intellectuals and journalists in the sphere of economic policy.
In a second stage of the research, we will broaden the study to investigate, via survey methods, where Italian public opinion stands on these issues, to verify the congruence between elites’ views and citizens’ views. We also plan to carry out similar studies in other European countries in the future.
It is envisaged that this research project – the first of its kind to focus on Italy – will generate useful insights for policymakers and for social, economic and institutional actors that will support the definition of effective and viable economic policies to support Italy’s future economic development. The results will be shared with participants and will be disseminated by the research team through various channels, both academic and non-academic.
For all information and enquiries about the project, you can contact the project team at this email address:

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