Welfare, Italian Style

From Bismarckian beginnings to crisis and reform 1

Authored by: Julia Lynch , Peter Ceretti

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415604178
eBook ISBN: 9781315709970
Adobe ISBN: 9781317487555


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At one time, the Italian welfare state was the envy of social reformers in the advanced industrialized nations. International observers lauded Italy’s leadership in introducing pension and unemployment insurance programs for agricultural workers as early as 1919; and admired the generous system of family allowances set up in the 1950s and the 1960s (Fargion, 2013: 176; Lynch, 2006: 93). Yet by the late 1980s Italy seemed to offer an object lesson in how not to run a welfare state—and an expensive one, at that. The first section of this chapter describes the development of the main structural features of the Italian welfare state through the end of the First Republic. The second section analyzes reforms and continuities in the Second Republic. Finally, in the third section we assess prospects for significant reform of the Italian welfare state going forward.

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