During the 1990s the Italian economy presented an overall positive, albeit contradictory, trend (see below: Economic and financial policy), recorded by the average annual increase in GDP, which was on average 1.1 % between 1990 and 1994, by 2.9 % in 1995 and by 1.2 % between 1996 and 1998: Italy it ranks fifth in the world ranking of industrialized countries, with a gross product per capita that amounted to over 20 in 1998. 000dollars per year. The actual distribution of wealth within the country, beyond the average figure, presents considerable gaps: in 1996 it was estimated that the income available to that 10 % of the population which includes the richest families was about eight times greater of that available for 10 % made up of the poorest families; the income inequality is, however, lower than that recorded in most of the advanced economies; these data, however, are affected by considerable inequalities on a regional scale, especially between the Center-North and the South.
According to COUNTRYVV, the production system, with particular regard to the complex balances between the secondary and tertiary sectors, has been progressively reorganized: highly articulated territorial networks have been consolidated, while the importance of local production systems as functional and territorial nodes has increasingly emerged. to play a significant role in the urban-metropolitan redevelopment and social cohesion processes.
A strong territorial impact was produced by the functional restructuring of companies and entire production chains through the various automation processes, the dimensional reorganization of the plants, the deepening of the division of labor through subcontracting cycles and, in extremely incisive forms, through the relocation of companies and production phases in Italy and abroad, a process that has generated employment imbalances, redistribution of investments and reorganization of commercial strategies.
Growing industrial productivity found decisive support, particularly between the autumn of 1992 and 1996, in the growth of exports linked to the undervaluation of the lira, so as to create a very modest trade surplus since 1992, which subsequently increased considerably. The share of world trade held by Italy remained stable overall, while the composition of import-export saw a progressive contraction in trade with the United States and a growing diversification of countries – including non-European ones – with which Italy has significant commercial relationships (as many as 20 countries, in fact, add up to just 75% of the interchange). Regarding the conditions of equilibrium have settled between the different productive sectors, in 1996 the primary contributed only for the 2, 9 % to the composition of GDP, instead absorbing the 7, 4 % of total employment, to demonstrate levels of low productivity, however, a sharp increase compared to previous years; the secondary sector participated for 31, 5 % to GDP, with a share of employment of 32.4 %, while the tertiary contributed for 65, 6 % to GDP and 60.2% of the total workforce, with a considerable increase in productivity, which largely involved the private sector.
On the other hand, unemployment has reached worrying levels (11.1 % in July 1999), particularly in the South, where unemployment rates are frequently double the national average: 25.8 % in Campania and 24.3 % in Calabria and Sicily (1997). On the other hand, the statistical surveys are not able to assess the incidence of informal work and the size of a vast ‘underground’ economy which constitutes a considerable national resource, judging by estimates that in the mid-1990s identified the informal sphere about a quarter of the work in the South, compared to just under a fifth in the Northern regions.
In this sector, the company organization has continued along the path of rationalization, with a sharp increase in the number of larger companies, against a decrease in medium-sized companies, and a growing diffusion of more complex legal-economic forms and stable, with positive effects on access to credit and commercial policies. At the same time, a trend towards a contraction in agricultural employment and cultivated area is being confirmed, also in relation to Community policies aimed at containing surpluses.
Selective interventions are applied, in line with other European countries, for a redevelopment of the sector, with particular regard to the protection of some production sectors (wine, cheese, vegetables, fruit, organic crops), which achieve productivity increases thanks to legislative interventions and, in several cases, through the implementation of consortium forms capable of facilitating the promotion and marketing of products. The productivity of the agricultural sector has therefore been increasing, even in the case of small and very small farms, often part-time. Land abandonment continues, especially in the Apennine mountain areas and in some lowland areas where extensive crops do not allow satisfactory increases in profitability. L’ breeding was affected by rationalization and modernization of systems, simultaneously with the resumption of traditional extensive forms facilitated by the regression of cultivation that affected large areas. Even the forest is reoccupying the abandoned land and extends over an area of approx7 million hectares (1996).