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Measuring WellbeingA History of Italian Living Standards$
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Giovanni Vecchi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199944590

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199944590.001.0001

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(p.11) 1 Nutrition
Measuring Wellbeing

Marina Sorrentino

Oxford University Press

The chapter focuses on how Italy’s economic growth enabled the spread of improvements in the diet of the Italian population. According to mid-nineteenth-century observers, nourishment was likely to be a daily torment for the major part of the population. In contrast, we estimate that in the aftermath of Italy’s unification (1861) the daily calories available to the average Italian exceeded 2,500, a value that is higher than that commonly used today to mark the threshold of undernutrition in developing countries. A high per-capita calorie availability is consistent with the presence of a sizable part of the population trying to make ends meet. In 1861 one person in two (perhaps even two in three) did not consume enough calories to lead a healthy life. In the case of Italy, macroeconomic data hide more than they reveal.

Keywords:   Calories, Energy requirement, Undernutrition, Malnutrition, Nutrients, Hunger, Diet, Engel’s Law, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), Living standards

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