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OECD Economic SurveysItalyApril 2019OVERVIEWwww.oecd.org/economy/surveys/Italy-economic-snapshot

This Overview is extracted from the Economic Survey of Italy. The Survey is published on theresponsibility of the Economic and Development Review Committee (EDRC) of the OECD, which ischarged with the examination of the economic situation of member countries.This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereigntyover any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name ofany territory, city or area.OECD Economic Surveys: Italy OECD 2019You can copy, download or print OECD content for your own use, and you can include excerpts fromOECD publications, databases and multimedia products in your own documents, presentations,blogs, websites and teaching materials, provided that suitable acknowledgment of OECD as sourceand copyright owner is given. All requests for public or commercial use and translation rights shouldbe submitted to [email protected] Requests for permission to photocopy portions of this materialfor public or commercial use shall be addressed directly to the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) [email protected] or the Centre français d’exploitation du droit de copie (CFC) [email protected]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYExecutive summaryAfter a modest recovery, the economy is weakeningItaly continues to suffer from long-standing social and economic problemsA comprehensive reform package holds the key to stronger growth and socialinclusionIn-work benefits and a moderate guaranteed income scheme would boostemployment and reduce povertyMore effective regional development policies and strengthening capacity at thelocal level would help to narrow the regional divideOECD ECONOMIC SURVEYS: ITALY 2019 OECD 2019 1

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARYAfter a modest recovery, the economy isweakeningFigure A. GDP growth has slowed%, Q-o-Q1.00.8However, the recovery has slowed. GDP isprojected to contract by 0.2% in 2019 andexpand by 0.5% in 2020. Expansionary fiscalpolicy and low growth will push the generalgovernment budget deficit to 2.5% of GDP in2019 from 2.1% in 2018. The 2019 budgetrightly aims to help the poor but its growthbenefits are likely to be modest, especially in themedium term. The new guaranteed minimumincome (Citizen’s Income), which replaces theInclusive Income Scheme (REI), allocatessignificant additional funds to anti-povertyprogrammes, but its effectiveness will dependcritically on marked improvements in job searchand training programmes. The reduction in theretirement age – to 62 years with at least 38 yearsof contributions – will lower growth in themedium run by reducing work among olderpeople and, if not actuarially fair, will worsenintergenerational inequality and raise the publicdebt.Italy continues to suffer from long-standingsocial and economic problemsReal GDP per capita is roughly the same as in2000 and well below its pre-crisis peak.Though the employment rate has risen, it is stillone of the lowest among OECD countries,especially for women. Job quality is low and themismatch between people’s jobs and their skillsis high by international comparison. Productivitygrowth has been sluggish or negative for the past20 years.0.60.40.20.0-0.2-0.4-0.6-0.8-1.0-1.22010Q12010Q32011Q12011Q32012Q12012Q32013Q12013Q32014Q12014Q32015Q12015Q32016Q12016Q32017Q12017Q32018Q12018Q3In recent years, supportive global economicconditions, expansionary monetary policy,structural reforms and prudent fiscal policysupported Italy’s gradual economic recovery.Exports, private consumption and more recentlyinvestment drove growth, buttressed by a shift ofexport industries towards higher value addedproducts. The employment rate has increased by3 percentage points since 2015 and the health ofthe banking system has improved.Source: OECD Economic Outlook 104 database, includingmore recent information.Table A. The economy is projected to recovergraduallyAnnual % change, unless otherwise indicatedGross domestic productPrivate consumptionGross fixed capital formationExportsImportsUnemployment rate (%)Consumer price indexFiscal balance (% GDP)Public debt (gross, % of GDP)Current account (% of GDP)2018201920200.80.63.21.41.810.61.2-2.11322.6-0.20.5-0.22.72.112.00.9-2.51342.70.50.51.12.32.712.10.8-3.01352.4Source: OECD Economic Outlook 104 database, includingmore recent information.Absolute poverty rates for young people rosesharply as a result of the crisis and remainhigh. Poverty rates vary widely between regionsand in southern regions are among the highest inthe EU. Only a small share of social benefits(excluding pensions) for the working agepopulation go to the people most in need. Thedearth of job opportunities pushes many youngpeople to emigrate, exacerbating Italy’s alreadyfast population ageing.OECD ECONOMIC SURVEYS: ITALY 2019 OECD 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYFigure B. Italy’s GDP per capita is at the samelevel as 20 years ago% difference in real GDP per capita between 2000 and 201830252015 3The ambitious reform package proposed in thisSurvey would support stronger employment,improve well-being and raise productivitygrowth. By 2030, annual trend GDP growthwould increase from 0.6% under current policiesto above 1.5%. If accompanied by a rise of theprimary surplus to above 2%, the proposedreform package would help to put the debt-toGDP ratio on a downward path.10Figure C. Absolute poverty rates rose during thecrisis and remain high, especially for the young5-5ITAGRCPRTDNKNORFRALUXMEXJPNCHEBELESPCANNLDAUTFINGBRUSADEUOECDAUSSWE0Source: OECD Economic Outlook 104 database,including more recent information.% of age groups living in households in absolute poverty14Below 1810The already large regional differences in GDPper capita and employment rates havewidened over recent decades. Regionaldisparities in employment rates explain much ofthe difference in living standards among regions.8Renewable energy sources have expandedrapidly from 2000 to the mid-2010s but havestalled since then. Air pollution is high in somearea, resulting in high mortality and harmingwell-being. Other environmental challengesresult from weaknesses in public administration,reflected in patchy waste collection andmanagement and deficient hydrological riskmanagement. The administrative fragmentationand limited power of metropolitan bodies is anobstacle to the integration of land use andtransport policies, hampering the design of lowemission growth policies.2A comprehensive reform package holds thekey to stronger growth and social inclusionItaly faces the double challenge of revivinggrowth and making it more inclusive whileputting the public debt on steady downwardpath. Tackling Italy’s structural challengesrequires a multi-year reform package to achievestronger and more inclusive growth, and reviveconfidence in the reform capacity of the country.OECD ECONOMIC SURVEYS: ITALY 2019 OECD 201918-34 years35-64 years65 years and overTotal126402005200720092011201320152017Source: ISTAT Poverty database.Increasing productivity growth is key toraising living standards and to offsetting thelarge negative effect of demographics and ashrinking labour force. This will require:enhancing competition in markets that are stillprotected, such as professional services and localpublic services; raising innovation and businessdynamics, including through targeted incentivesconnected to the Industry 4.0 plan; removingobstacles hampering the growth of SMEs; andenhancingtheefficiencyofpublicadministration by raising accountability andtransparency and pursuing the digitalisation ofthe public sector.A credible medium-term plan to reduce thedebt-to-GDP ratio will improve fiscalcredibility and help contain the risk premiumon government debt. Without sustainable fiscalpolicy, the room to enhance infrastructure, help

4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARYthe poor and deliver the public services peopleexpect will inevitably narrow. Designingbudgets within the EU Growth and StabilityPact, which should be implemented in apragmatic way, would help to strengthen fiscalcredibility by providing an anchor to fiscalpolicy. If fiscal credibility can be improvedrapidly, a falling risk premium on governmentdebt would accelerate the reduction of the debtratio.Public spending needs to become moreefficient and better targeted with a fairer taxsystem. Designing thorough spending reviewsduring the preparation of the yearly budget andeffectively implementing them would promotepriority-setting and spending re-allocation,contributing to free up resources for effectivepublic programmes and public investment.Improving voluntary tax compliance andvigorously fighting tax evasion are key for taxrevenues and allow for a reduction in tax rates,making the tax system fairer.The health of the banking system hasimproved but challenges remain. Thegovernment strategy to deal with insolvent banksthrough a mix of resolutions, recapitalisationsand acquisitions has yielded fruit. Banks’ capitalratios are above minimum requirements. Thestock of nonperforming loans in banks’ balancesheets has fallen markedly over the last two yearsand profitability has returned, though it remainslow. The banking sector is undergoing arationalisation and consolidation process, but thereform to cooperative banks is still to be fullyimplemented. The health of the banking sector isclosely linked with public finance and its effectson government bond yields. Lower governmentbond yields would help to safeguard the stabilityof the banking sector.employment in low-wage regions and for secondearners. The transfer and eligibility rules of theCitizen’s Income will need to ensure workincentives are strengthened and not weakenedbecause of higher transfers. The level of thetransfer provided by the current plan for theCitizen’s Income risks encouraging informalemployment and creating poverty traps.Ensuring transfers are conditional on welldesigned and monitored employment and socialinclusion “pacts” is key to supportingbeneficiaries to move into employment.Introducing an in-work benefit system andlowering the Citizen’s Income benefit to about70% of the relative poverty line (50% of themedian equivalised household income) wouldcontribute to raising employment, especially inlagging regions, and protecting households frompoverty.The success of any guaranteed minimumincome scheme will hinge on improving jobsearch and training programmes. This willdepend on implementing a multi-year plan torevamp public employment services based onhigher investments in IT systems, profiling toolsand human resources, especially in laggingregions where social needs are greater and moreurgent. Developing strong partnerships withprivate-sector job-search and training agenciesand extending the existing training voucher toinclude both Citizen’s Income beneficiaries andother job seekers would improve their jobprospects.Strongercollaborationandcoordination between public employmentservice and municipalities’ social assistanceprogrammes would help to achieve the Citizen’sIncome objectives. Integration of immigrantsthrough language and professional trainingcourses and certifying immigrants’ skills wouldsupport social inclusion, and boost labour forceparticipation.In-work benefits and a moderate guaranteedincome scheme would boost employment andreduce povertyA key part of making growth strong and moreinclusiveinvolvesincreasingformalemployment. Italy’s tax and benefit system andsocial services can do more to supportOECD ECONOMIC SURVEYS: ITALY 2019 OECD 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYFigure D. Italy’s public employment services helpfew jobseekers find workInvolvement of the PES in finding current job, % of employees aged25-64 who started a job during the previous 12 months252015100ITAESPCHEESTISLGBRLVAIRLGRCPOLDNKDEUAUTFRABELCZELTUPRTSVKFINLUXSWESVNHUN5Source: Calculations based on EU-LFS 2014. 5policies or waste management, would go in theright direction. Local public administrations thatrepeatedly fail to achieve these minimumstandards should undergo a restructuringprogramme in collaboration with betterperformers and the central government tostrengthen capacity, reorganise processes andenhance accountability and transparency.Improving the governance of metropolitan areaswould enhance agglomeration economies andstrengthen the role of metropolitan cities asengines of green growth. Progress in this areawill hinge on regions and municipalities sharingsome of their functions and budget withmetropolitan bodies.Figure E. Higher efficiency of municipalities isassociated with higher productivityAverage administative efficiency index40More effective regional development policiesand strengthening capacity at the local levelwould help to narrow the regional divide30Rationalising and improving coordinationamong the bodies involved in regionaldevelopment policies by strengthening therole and expertise of central-governmentbodies would make regional policies moreeffective. Funds for regional developmentpolicies need to add to, and not to substitute for,ordinary spending. The ordinary publicadministration needs to offer a more similar levelof essential services across the whole country.Setting and enforcing minimum performancestandards for services provided by sub-nationaladministrations, such as active labour market0OECD ECONOMIC SURVEYS: ITALY 2019 OECD 20192010-10-20-3051.959.766.1SouthCentreNorthAverage real GDP per employee, thousand EURNote: The administrative efficiency index is the percentagedifference between assessed spending needs givenconditions and actual spending. A higher value indicatesgreater efficiency.Source: OECD Regional Statistics database; andOpenCivitas.

6 EXECUTIVE SUMMARYMAIN POLICY FINDINGSKEY RECOMMENDATIONSBoosting sustained and inclusive growthAfter a modest economy recovery, real GDP per capita is still lower than in 2000 andthe economy is now slowing. The health of the banking system has considerablyimproved but challenges pers

20 years. Figure A. GDP growth has slowed Source: OECD Economic Outlook 104 database, including more recent information. Table A. The economy is projected to recover gradually Annual % change, unless otherwise indicated 2018 2019 2020 Gross domestic product 0.8 -0.2 5 Private consumption 0.6 0.5 0.5 Gross fixed capital formation 3.2 -0.2 1.1

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