The Italian Crisis within the European Crisis. The Relevance of the Technological Foreign Constraint

Stefano Lucarelli, Roberto Romano


The debate on the Italian economic crisis in the Euro zone should address a fundamental issue: what is the origin of the decline in productivity that affected the Italian economic system even before the European crisis begun in 2010? We argue that the effective demand can be revived only by governing the structural economic dynamics. Embracing a theoretical approach that may be called “structuralism” in line with the contributions by Leon (1965), Sylos Labini (1977) and Pasinetti (1993), we will propose to analyze the technological causes that may explain the balance-of-payment constraint affecting year by year the Italian growth. In this perspective we will introduce the notion of technological foreign constraint. We will argue that such a phenomenon, not the increasing public debt, constitutes the shock that deteriorated the Italian labour productivity in the last twenty five years. In the last part of the article we will also present an empirical proof of the previous thesis, by showing the technological dependence of the Italian economic system by the German economic system, through the estimation of the productivity gap equation. We propose this equation drawing inspiration from Paolo Sylos Labini (1984, 1993, 2004).

Published on 2 Feb 2016 in World Economic Review No 6, February 2016 – Europe in Crisis