The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Stephan Danninger, Alberto Alesina, and Massimo Rostagno
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper examines the regional distribution of public employment in Italy and documents two sets of facts. The first is the use of public employment as a subsidy from the North to the less wealthy South. We calculate that about half of the wage bill in the South of Italy can be identified as a subsidy, with both the size of public employment and wage levels used as a redistributive device. The second set of facts concerns the negative effects of subsidized public employment on individuals’ attitudes toward job search, education, and “risk-taking” activities. We conclude that heavy reliance on public employment distorts incentives and discourages the development of market activities in the South.