The article analyzes the causes of Italy’s recent decline from a long-term perspective, running from the 1960s to the present day. It argues that the problems of the Italian economy are due to the inability to adapt the country’s institutional structure, society and internal resources to the changes taking place in the international context and in technological regimes. As early as the 1960s, but more clearly in the 1970s and 1980s, Italy found itself locked in a path-dependence process: short-term solutions, which in the short term maximized the interests of the main economic and political actors, were preferred to other solutions of greater strategic foresight, but which would have questioned the existing structure of benefits and compromises. In some key moments, the choices made by the ruling elites, both the political and the entrepreneurial ones, played a significant role in strengthening the country’s traditional socio-institutional structure, in favor of rent seeking and at the expense of innovation.
Keywords: Economic decline, Development model, Ruling elites, Globalization, Path dependence, Innovation