At the time of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy on 17 March 1861, the peninsula was in the grip of numerous political and economic problems, which in the following years required the adoption of measures to modernise the country on both the institutional and the economic levels. There was widespread awareness of the difficulties to be overcome in order to create favourable conditions for the country’s economic development. This awareness also brought out the limits of the desultory and non-systematic thinking of the pre-unification period. 1 For the first time Italian economists tackled the issue of national economic development in the context of the policies introduced by the newly created state.