The ripples of the industrial revolution: exports, economic growth, and regional integration in Italy in the early nineteenth century Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2014

start page

  • 349

end page

  • 369


  • 3


  • 18

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1361-4916

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1474-0044


  • The conventional wisdom about the early stages of modern economic growth in Italy is still heavily influenced by Cafagna in his book Dualismo e sviluppo nella storia d'Italia (Padova: Marsilio 1989). He argued that the exports of primary products to industrializing North-Western countries were the main source of growth and that exports of silk stimulated the industrialization of the North-West (the "industrial triangle"). However, the benefits did not extend to the rest of the country. In this paper, we argue that this view is not supported by the trade data. Italian exports grew slowly relative to European and world trade, and exports from the North grew less than the total. This view tallies well with some recent estimates of GDP per capita, which show no increase before the Unification of Italy (1861).


  • Economics
  • History


  • industrial revolution; italy; economic growth; regional integration; exports; nineteenth century; trade