The Italian political economy in and after the crisis: reforms, achievements, failures and prospects
ACCESS EUROPE – FMG Seminar with Stefano Sacchi
After a decade of inertia, that left it unprepared to withstand the blow of the great recession, the Italian welfare state has witnessed significant changes since 2012.
Externally-driven consolidation in the wake of the sovereign debt crisis spurred yet another wave of social policy reforms after that of the 1990s. Both the Monti and the Renzi governments combined liberalisation with expansion of social rights, particularly in income support. Employment protection legislation and income protection in the job through short-time work has been severely curtailed, while income support for the unemployed and the poor has been significantly improved and a new governance for active labour market policies has been devised.
As a result, the Italian welfare state looks more complete than it was before the crisis and the grounds for the Italian capitalism as state-assisted capitalism have been eroded. At the same time, neither government had an overall strategy of welfare modernization based on a clear identification of coordinated social investment measures to face the challenges of technological and demographic change. Nor is such a strategy currently on the radar. The seminar traces the changes in Italian social policy since the outburst of the great recession, highlighting the importance of domestic politics interacting with external drivers of change and exploring the opportunity structure for further reforms in a political system that veers again towards consensus democracy.
About the speaker
Stefano Sacchi is Associate Professor of Political Science at LUISS University in Rome (on leave from the University of Milan), Non-Resident Fellow at the Collegio Carlo Alberto of Turin, and since 2016 the President of the Italian National Institute for Public Policy Analysis, INAPP, in Rome.
In the Renzi government (2014-2016) he was a special adviser to the Italian Labor Minister and then to the Prime Minister’s office. In that capacity he designed and drafted several social policy reforms.
He has authored or co-authored more than fifty academic publications in the field of comparative social and labor policy, and was visiting scholar or lectured in several universities worldwide, including Cornell, Princeton, Toronto, NYU, University of Washington, University of Southern Denmark, Tokyo University and Waseda.
His most recent publications are 'Conditionality by other means. EU involvement in Italy's structural reforms in the sovereign debt crisis', in Comparative European Politics (2015), 'Conditionality, Austerity and Welfare: Financial crisis and its impact on welfare in Italy and Korea' (with J. Roh), in Journal of European Social Policy (2016), and 'The Italian Welfare State in the Crisis: Learning to Adjust?', in South European Society and Politics (2018).
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