But the country's success is all the more arresting because it was so unexpected. The city-states and principalities of the Italian peninsula were economic leaders in Europe for much of the period between the twelfth and the seventeenth centuries but their prosperity waned as the locus of economic activity and economic power shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
At the time of unification in , much of the country was backward, poor and agrarian. Per capita income was roughly 50 per cent of that in Britain and about 60 per cent of that in France. While some Italians retained business skills and commercial know-how acquired during the late medieval and early modern economic expansion, very few, even among the country's most ardent champions, would have believed that, in a relatively short period of time, Italy would emerge as an industrial powerhouse.
Data appendix for economic growth in the long run
This process of growth and structural change has generated a huge and evolving literature, loaded with controversies and, often enough, compelling insights. The purpose of this monograph is to provide a concise, up-to-date account of this literature, to highlight new insights into old problems, and to signal areas desperately in need of more research. This emphasis on historiography instead of history is intentional. If you have previously obtained access with your personal account, Please log in. If you previously purchased this article, Log in to Readcube.
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