This paper presents descriptive evidence on the role of industrial districts in Italian exports. Recent data released by ISTAT allow to identify exports at the level of single industrial district. The paper first presents synthetically the main features of the Italian pattern of international specialisation. Then, the share of industrial districts in Italian exports is analysed both by sector and by the major industrial districts. In the final part, the paper surveys the results of the recent empirical literature on the performance of firms located in industrial districts. This group of firms is more profitable than those located outside the district not because of lower labour cost, but because of their higher efficiency.
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