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Nine out of ten


In the analysis of inequality in advanced countries it is often argued that the wide array of changes in economic activities, labour markets and public policies result in a complex picture of changes in individual incomes that escape any general interpretation. However, as I point out evidence strongly suggests that most benefits of the (modest) economic growth of the last decade have gone to the richest 10 percent.

This outcome is a consequence of the combined effects of economic decline, rise of finance, stronger firms, weaker labour and pro-rich public policies that have characterised recent decades. While these developments are typically associated with neoliberalism and are present in most European countries, Italy stands out as an extreme case of decline and privilege: nine out of ten Italians are worse off today than they were ten years ago.[1]

Slicing decline

The Italian economy is expected to shrink by 2.2 percent in 2012 according to IMF forecasts. It had already contracted by 1.2 percent in 2008, 5.1 in 2009 and stagnated in 2010 and 2011. Real national income in 2012 is back to levels of a decade ago. From 2002 to 2011 average rates of GDP growth in Italy have been 0.3 percent against 1.1 percent in Germany and France. From 2000 to 2009 Italy’s labour productivity has decreased by 0.5 percent per year on average and is now back at the levels of the early 1990s. Such a decline is unprecedented among advanced countries.

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