People Economics

YIEA!, Mara Squicciarini Wins the Young Italian Economist Award

, by Fabio Todesco
The acknowledgment goes to the best paper presented by an under 35 scholar at the Annual Conference of the Italian Economists Society

Mara Squicciarini, Assistant Professor at Bocconi's Department of Economics, is the recipient of YIEA!2018, the Young Italian Economist Award, assigned to the best paper presented by an under-35 scholar at the Annual Conference of the Società Italiana degli Economisti (SIE, the Italian Economists Society) for her Devotion and Development: Religiosity, Education, and Economic Progress in 19th Century France. The Conference is taking place in Bologna.

To address the relationship between religiosity and economic development, the paper focuses on a crucial phase of modern economic growth, the Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) in France. During this period, technology became skill-intensive, leading to the introduction of technical education in primary schools, while the Catholic Church was pushing for religious content of schooling and acted as a barrier for the introduction of the technical curriculum.

Religiosity, thus, played a key role in the local implementation of national education policies and prof. Squicciarini finds that French regions with more Catholic schools recorded a deficit in economic development with a 10-15 years lag, when school-aged children would enter the labor market. The paper concludes that the relationship between religion and economic development can vary over time, becoming negative only when religious norms hinder the adoption of new ideas and innovative activities.

To carry out her study, Professor Squicciarini spent time in the French National Archives in Paris and collected detailed historical data on religiosity, education, and economic outcomes. «Looking at historical processes is extremely fascinating and can be instructive for economic development today, since many countries, where religion plays a primary role in the personal and public sphere, are also experiencing technological progress on a large scale, similar to the process of development in Western Europe during the Second Industrial Revolution», Prof. Squicciarini comments.