Economic disparities and context variables. A non-parametric analysis for Italian regions Objectives The paper provides a ranking of performance scores, originated by indicators of economic and social context, in order to compare the position of each region relative to the others over the period 1997-2003. Methods and Results Indicators of economic and social context are associated to development indicators. The Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) in bootstrap version allows us to define the worst and the best case scenarios of regional performances. The results show a persistent disparity between Center-North and Mezzogiorno over the period 1997-2003. However, some relevant differences amongst regions, within macroareas, provide interesting points to debate. Conclusions Notwithstanding some differences within macro-areas, Italy still appears a dualistic country. The results show that the social context is relevant to accurately analyse the development disparities amongst the Italian regions. Finally, an interpretation of our results indicates a possible risk of failure of the current Government’s intervention.