What does Italy need to do to grow more rapidly? Well, it’s complicated. And everyone’s got complicated opinions about it. But something I don’t think I see enough people talking about in this context is the role of gender. Compare the Italian employment-population ratio to the German, but break it out by men versus women and you’ll see that the gap on the women side is much larger:
When people write about economic policy, they like to talk about taxes and spending and maybe formal labor market regulation. But women’s workforce participation varies considerably from country to country in the developed world, and this plays a big role in explaining GDP gaps. The causes of these gaps in women’s participation, meanwhile, are likely to be a mix of policy factors and cultural ones, and the relevant policy factors are more complicated than a simple look at tax and spending measures.