What do physicists have to do with economists? More than it seems, but the joint effort of getting a can of canned food without the use of a can opener, as in the famous Kenneth Boulding joke, has nothing to do with it. This time the goal is much more ambitious: to collaborate to provide forecasts on the competitiveness of a country without paying attention (only) to its GDP. Statistical physics models deployed to generate an algorithm capable of predicting regional and world wealth. the challenge of the team of scientists of the Fermi Center of Rome, led by Professor Luciano Pietronero, who ten years ago invented a discipline, the “Economic Fitness and Complexity”, Which, starting from the analysis of hundreds of different data – exports above all, but also life expectancy, type of production, pollution – tries to reconstruct the industrial potential of states and regions. Or rather, he succeeds, if at all World Bank has adopted the precepts and the European Commission takes into account the Fitness indicator to evaluate the national plans of the Next Generation Eu. Now, a new study also analyzes the green potential of regions and countries.
The basic assumption is simple, or almost: the greater the complexity of a country’s exports, the higher its competitiveness and growth potential will be, especially in the case of investments in eco-sustainable technologies. By comparing Fitness and GDP, the unexpressed potential of a state emerges: on these bases, for example, China and India are expected to continue growing for at least 10 yearscompared to forecasts that would have predicted a slowdown already some time ago.
The Fitness? Measure how good you are
Ours is a scientist’s approach – explains Professor Luciano Pietronero, president of the Fermi Center – the problem of many economists who analyze things with the lens of the ideological filter. We have considered a lot of data, but the most important is related to exports: if you produce a high-end smartphone you are more competitive than if you make a bottle of water. The first can be done by a few, the second by everyone. The curious thing is that, despite being closely correlated with the ability to generate wealth, high levels of fitness do not necessarily coincide with high GDP. Take Saudi Arabia – explains Pietronero – extremely rich thanks to oil, but has a very little diversified economy and a low industrial capacity. And therefore a low Fitness value, which basically measures “how good you are”. The ability to engage in complex productions also provides information on the level of education and work, for example, because it brings together the skills necessary for their realization. In short, according to the team of researchers from the capital, the success of a country is given by an indicator that expresses the diversification of productions, weighed by their complexity. A system that works, and how: We are able to make more accurate GDP forecasts from the International Monetary Fundensures the physique.
France, Germany and Japan at the top, Lombardy well
The recent studies by the researchers of the Fermi Center – who have returned to the historic Roman site in via Panisperna since 2019 – are able, among other things, to provide indications on the eco-sustainability of the various economies and on the most promising sectors for the future: among these green technologies related to road transport and C02 conversion stand out. The most competitive countries in the world from a green point of view are Japan, France and Germany – explains the researcher Angelica Sbardella -. China, Brazil and Spain are on the rise, while the United States and the United Kingdom have taken a step backwards. It’s Italy? Halfway across the ford: to regions such as Emilia Romagna and – above all – the Lombardywhich marks values in line with the top European regions, are accompanied by realities of the South that would require greater investments in terms of green productions: Italian growth cannot pass only from high fashion and tourism – continues Sbardella – but must provide policy of defining an adequate industrial plan with the strategic needs of the 4.0 world.
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GDP is not everything: here is Fitness, the physical indicator (Italian) that measures the economy of a country
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