Abstract and Keywords
The chapter describes the evolution of the Italians' well-being during the 150 years since the country's unification. The progress in material standard of living has been substantial, with GDP per capita growing thirteen times between 1861 and 2011 and hours of work (and hence effort) falling considerably, but roughly in line with that experienced by most other European countries. By relying on a novel database on household budgets, it is shown that economic growth has been accompanied by a long-run reduction of inequality that however appears to have been reversed in the last two decades. Progress has not been limited to the economic domain: educational attainment has improved considerably, although less than in other countries, and life expectancy has grown at a spectacular pace, allowing Italians to lead current international rankings.