Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Banovetz, James M.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Italy--Economic conditions; Italy--History--20th century; Italy--Politics and government


In the post World War Two years the whole of Western Europe was dedicated to one task—rebuilding what the war had destroyed. Among the European nations affected, Italy seemed to be engaging in very rapid reconstruction. Its growth rate from 1951 to 1961 averaged over 5.5 per cent per year. However, in spite of the rapid progress made, the southern half of the Italian peninsula, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, remained underdeveloped. This area of underdevelopment, referred to as the Mezzogiorno, exists today as it did 200 years ago. Of its twelve million hectares, ten million are either mountains or hills and only two million are plains. Yet, about 50 per cent of the inhabitants of the Mezzogiorno are farmers who own or work small pieces of land by hand in a losing struggle to feed their families. Whole families live in one or two poorly ventilated rooms, often sharing their living quarters with their domestic animals and beasts of burden. Disease is rampant. Ignorance prevails. New ideas and concepts are related by word of mouth, regarded with suspicion, and seldom break through the curtain of ignorance and superstition. In 1950, the Italian national government began the institution of reforms, the purposes of which were to increase agricultural production, to reduce unemployment, and to stimulate industrial growth, thereby closing the gap. The first of the major reforms was a land reform. The government expropriated land from large holdings and redistributed it in small units to landless peasants. The second major reform program was the Cassa per il Mezzo- giomo, or Bank of the South. The Italian government invested over $3 billion dollars through this agency to develop agriculture and industry in the South. It also gave tax benefits to industries wishing to locate in the South. Finally, the Italian government gave national status to the problems of the South through the Vanoni Plan, an official statement of intent to reform the South. The purposes of this study are to examine these developmental programs, to probe the political, social, and economic problems confronting them, and to evaluate their success. Emerging from the analysis is a story of the attempt of a modern nation to eliminate an area of economic depression and cultural depravity. The attempt met with only limited success. In the Land Reform, the land expropriated was insufficient for a successful reform and was redistributed in such small units that their peasant owners could just barely exist on them and had no produce to market. The efforts of the Cassa per il Mezzogiomo to build public works such as acqueducts, sewers and roads were thwarted when the recipients of the projects had insufficient knowledge of their operation and could not afford their maintenance. In its industrial sector, the Cassa attracted large automated industries to the South. They did not relieve unemployment in the South because they needed skilled workers which the South could not provide. The Vanoni Plan incorporated only those funds and agencies already in existence It is apparent in this study that the cultural or social background of the Mezzogiomo has triumphed over the central government’s public development policies. This study's survey of the Italian developmental programs indicates that improvement of physical facilities in under developed areas, when not combined with social reforms, can have only limited success.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes map.


x, 137 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type