WP 125 | 23 Social economy in Italy: dimensions, dynamics and characteristics

Publication date: 12 January 2023
Research areas: Theory and definitions
Publication categories: Working papers
Arguments: Measurement and statistics
Tags: statistics, Italy, Cooperative enterprises, Nonprofit Institutions, Economic and employment size

In the last twenty years, the interest of researchers, policy makers, national and international institutions and society in general has been growing in organizations and enterprises set up and managed in a participatory manner by non-investor actors and whose object is not the profit but rather the response to a need of the promoting group or community. These organizations are increasingly associated with the term “Social economy”.

In Italy, the concept of social economy has so far been little used and research, public debate and legislative activity have favoured single components: traditional cooperatives, on the one hand, and other typologies of organizations (social cooperatives, associations and social enterprises) on the other.

With the intention of contributing to filling this gap, this paper – which largely summarizes the Euricse-Istat report on the Italian social economy (2021) – aims to provide a unitary picture of the dimensions and characteristics of the entire social economy in Italy and to explore its sectoral specialization and evolutionary dynamics, showing, finally, some insights into the relationship between the presence of SEOs and variables of social interest, especially with particular reference to welfare services.


Carlo Borzaga, Manlio Calzaroni, Eddi Fontanari, Massimo Lori