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Knowledge for growth

A recent speech by Ignazio Visco focused on the close links between development, productivity and knowledge

The close links between economic growth, productivity and knowledge are nothing new, yet they continue to be important to everyone, not least because they play a key role in economic development, and Italy is no exception.

This was once again the subject of the speech deliverd by Governor of the Bank of Italy Ignazio Visco at the EuroScience Open Forum 2020 at the beginning of September.

‘Economic Growth and Productivity: Italy and the Role of Knowledge’ offered not only an overview of the theoretical state of the art on relationships between growth and knowledge, but also an overview of the situation in our country, all, of course, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects.

Visco began by outlining the effects of Covid-19 and immediately related them to the structural situation in Italy, in doing so effectively summarising some of the objectives and crucial steps in the economic and social life of the country and explaining that when a country finds itself approaching the cutting-edge of technology, its income and salary no longer allow for “a development strategy based solely on cost and price competition”. In other words, there is always a moment when “economic growth depends on the ability to incorporate and promote innovation, which requires adequate spending on new technologies, and on the quantity and quality of investment in education, from primary school through to university”. The latter is a crucial point that Governor Visco then tackled by looking at Italy more closely and taking into account fundamental  issues such as innovation, human capital and production facilities, all in order to focus on what Visco himself refers to as “Italy’s old delays” in relation to its recent (poor) economic results and the changes that have taken place in the world in the meantime.

The key issue for Visco, then, is being able to return to a path of development that boils down to an increase in GDP — a factor that is closely linked to the level of knowledge within the country and a goal that we need to achieve as a matter of urgency. Indeed, as the Governor himself explains, “Returning to the pathway to increased GDP that Italy veered away from some 30 years ago is a matter that has certain implications that go beyond the economic sphere alone”. This indicator, in fact, also touches on aspects such as the health of the population, quality of leisure time and general standard of living. Nevertheless, what is needed, Visco claims, is not only a technological transformation but also (and perhaps more importantly) a cultural one.

Economic growth and productivity: Italy and the role of knowledge

Ignazio Visco

EuroScience Open Forum 2020, 4 September 2020