What do we mean by the “wealth of the Italians”? How do we go about measuring it? Who possesses it? The chapter answers these questions by providing the first generation of estimates of household wealth in Italy since 1861. After a sluggish start, Italians’ propensity to save became higher than in any other country in the world, except Japan. By 2007, the year marking the start of the Great Recession, the wealth of Italians was about six times their income. The history of the last 20–25 years however, highlights the difficulties in adapting to a rapidly changing international environment. Unless they react to the current cultural and institutional sclerosis, Italians will not be rich forever.
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