In my presentation I shall attempt to tease out the main factors influencing the pattern of female wages in Italy during the transition periods investigated in this workshop, namely the two latest post-war periods and the 1990s. Due to the limitations of available historical evidence on regional wages for women, the main focus will be on national wage patterns and, specifically, on women’s wages relative to men’s in the “regular” economy.

The presentation shall have two parts. In the first part I shall briefly review the pattern of female wages over the chosen periods, exploiting the (scant) existing evidence. For this part I shall mainly draw from my own research (Bettio 1988; 2001 and 2015) but also from the contributions of two well-known Italian historians of women’s work (Curli 1998, Pescarolo 2019).

In the second part I shall try to single out some of the factors that appear to have influenced wage patterns in each of the chosen periods. Transition periods typically bring about change, which, in the Italian case, include shifts in industrial and occupational gender segregation, the occurrence of inflation, the restructuring of wage setting procedures, and innovation in gender equality provisions.


Professor of Economics at the University of Siena; author or co-author of more than seventy publications on topics ranging from long-term and cyclical patterns of female employment and wage differentials to discrimination and occupational segregation, fertility in Mediterranean countries, intra-household bargaining, care work and sex work; a decades-long collaboration with the European Commission as an expert on female employment culminating with the role of lead coordinator of the 33 countries European Network of Experts on Gender Equality (ENEGE 2007–2015) and the current role of task coordinator of the SAAGE team (Scientific Analysis and Advice on Gender Equality in the EU, DG-Justice); a long track record as a consultant for local Italian governments in equal opportunity projects and initiatives; currently a member of the Gender Equality Committee of the Italian Economic Association (SIE), as well as a founder and member of the editorial board of the portal