Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe, 1300-1800

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Starting Grant (StG), SH6, ERC-2011-StG

Project acronym: EINITE

Project: Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe, 1300-1800

Researcher (PI): Guido Alfani

Host Institution (HI): Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Italy

Start date: 2012-01-01, End date: 2016-12-31

Summary: “The aim of EINITE is to clarify the dynamics of economic inequality in Europe from the late Middle Ages up until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Very little data about economic inequality during such an early period is available today. Apart from some studies focussed on single years and small areas (usually only one city or a village), the only European region which has been the object of a large research project is Holland. The project will collect an extensive database about economic inequality, mainly of wealth (for which better documentation exists), focussing on Italy from a wider European perspective. Archival research will be concentrated on Italy where particularly good sources exist, but the Italian case will be placed in the varying European context. Published data and existing databases from all over the continent will be collected as terms of comparison. The final version of the project database will be made public. The activity of ENITE will be organized around four main research questions: 1) What is the long-term relationship between economic growth and inequality? This is the main question to which the others are all connected. 2) What were the effects of plagues and other severe mortality crises on property structures? 3) What is the underlying relationship between immigration and urban inequality? 4) How was economic inequality perceived in the past, and how did its perception change over time? The project will also help to explain the origin of the property structures and inequality levels to be found on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Then, it will provide information relevant to the ‘Kuznets curve’ debate. Overall the project will lead to a better knowledge of economic inequality in the past, which is also expected to help understanding recent developments in inequality levels in Europe and elsewhere.»

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