People Political Sciences

Guido Alfani Obtains a Second ERC Grant

, by Fabio Todesco
The Bocconi economic historian will receive a Consolidator Grant to study social mobility in Italy and Europe from 1300 to 1800, in perfect continuity with his research program on economic inequality, also funded by the ERC and just concluded

The economic historian Guido Alfani (Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policies and Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management) has obtained a €1.5mln worth, five-year ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council for his research project Social Mobility and Inequality across Italy and Europe: 1300-1800 (SMITE).

"The goal of SMITE is to improve our knowledge of long-term trends in social mobility, from the decades immediately preceding the Black Death of 1347-49 up until the eve of Industrialization", Prof. Alfani explains. "The objective is not only to measure mobility, but also to understand its consequences for the economy and society at large: the connection between social mobility and economic growth will be assessed".

The grant follows the conclusion of another of Alfani's research programs, Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe, 1300-1800 (EINITE), that had gained Alfani a ERC Starting Grant five years ago.

EINITE established that inequality soared continuously throughout the period, SMITE will study whether the growth in economic inequality, which seems to have characterized both northern and southern Europe during the early modern period, went hand in hand with an increase in upward social mobility or whether there were differences across the continent. "Some literature", Alfani says, "suggests that upward mobility might have slowed down in Southern Europe, but not in the North, from 1600, thus determining in the South a particularly unfavorable combination of high inequality and a closed society, which might have contributed to the North-South divergence".

The ERC grants are the most important European research funds assigned on a competitive basis. According to their research experience, scholars can run for Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants or Advanced Grants. SMITE brings to 24 the total of ERC Grants hosted by Bocconi since when the program was established.

"At Bocconi we are proud of the result obtained by Alfani", says Marco Ottaviani, Dean of Research. "I thank both him and the Research Division that effectively supports Bocconi scholars in the application process for ERC and other grants. A further reason for joy is the issue tackled by SMITE: social mobility. It's a topic relevant not only in social sciences studies, but also in the mission of a university such as Bocconi".

"Thanks to the ERC, in the last years, dozens of young European scholars have been able to conduct original research", says Alfani, "and to enlarge their networks beyond their countries and even beyond Europe. It's been an undisputable success of the European Union".