Scheda programma d'esame
Academic year2023/24
PeriodSemester 1

Programma non disponibile nella lingua selezionata
Learning outcomes

The course will provide students with an overview of the main trends of evolution of the world economy from the Stone Age to the present. In particular, the focus of the course is on the construction of indicators charting economic performance and living standards in the long run

Assessment criteria of knowledge

Assessment will be carried out by means of a written exam on the lectures and other course materials


The main skills is a critical appreciation of long patterns of the development of the world economy

Assessment criteria of skills

Same as for knowledge


Critical reading of papers and participation to lectures

Assessment criteria of behaviors

Same as for knowledge


There are no formal prerequisities. Some knowledge of growth economics will and of national accounting will be usefuls

Teaching methods

Lectures and tutorials


Economic growth in history (2022/2023): Syllabus and Reading List (readings marked with * are compulsory).

Lecture 1  Interpretative frameworks for the study of economic growth (growth accounting; ultimate/proximate growth causality)  

Crafts, N. (2009), ‘Solow and Growth Accounting: a Perspective from Quantitative Economic History’, History of Political Economy, vol. 41, 200-220 (*)


Maddison A. (1988), ‘Ultimate and Proximate Growth Causality: A Critique of Mancur Olson on the Rise and Decline of Nations’, Scandinavian Economic History Review, vol. 2, 25-9.


Lecture 2: Measuring economic performance and living standards: GDP

Fouquet,  R. and Broadberry, S. (2015), ‘Seven Centuries of European Economic Growth and Decline’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 29, pp. 227-244.


Nuvolari, A. and Ricci, M. (2013), ‘Economic growth in England 1250-1850: some new estimates using a demand side approach’, Rivista di Storia Economica, vol. 29, pp. 31-53.(*)


Ridolfi, L. and Nuvolari, A. (2021), ‘L’Histoire Immobile? A Reappraisal of French Economic Growth using the Demand-Side Approach, 1280-1850’, European Review of Economic History, vol.  25, pp. 405-428. (*)


Lecture 3: Measuring economic performance and living standard: real wages

Allen, R. C. (2001), ‘The Great Divergence in European wages and prices from the Middles Ages to the First World War’, Explorations in Economic History, vol. 38, pp. 411-447. (*)


Allen, R.C. Bassino, J.P, Ma, D., Moll-Murata, C. And Van Zanden, J. L. (2011), ‘Wages, prices and living standards in China, 1738-1925’, Economic History Review, vol. 64, pp. 8-38.


Lecture 4: Measuring economic performance and living standards: heights, urbanization


Bosker, M., Buringh, E. and Van Zanden, Jan Luiten (2013), ‘From Bagdad to London: Unravelling urban development in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, 800-1800’, Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 95, pp. 1418-1437.


Baten, J. and Blum, M. (2014), ‘Why are tall while others short ? Agricultural production and other proximate determinants of human heights’, European Review of Economic History, vol. 18, pp. 144-165.


A’Hearn, B. and Vecchi, G. (2017), ‘Height’ in Vecchi, G. (ed.), Measuring Wellbeing. A History of Italian Living Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 43-87. (*)


Lecture 5: Measuring economic performance and living standards


Amendola, N, Gabbuti, G. and Vecchi, G. (2017), ‘Human development’ in Vecchi, G. (ed.), Measuring Wellbeing. A History of Italian Living Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 454-491. (*) 


Prados de la Escosura, L., (2021), ‘Augmented human development in the age of globalization’, Economic History Review, vol. 74, pp. 946-975.


Lecture 6: The Malthusian model

Clark, G. (2007), Farewell to Alms,  Princeton: Princeton University Press  chapter 1 (*), 2(*) and (*)


Angeles, L. (2008), ‘GDP or real wages? Making sense of conflicting views on pre-industrial Europe’, Explorations in Economic History, vol. 45, pp. 147-163. (*)

Lecture 7: Labour and human capital in pre-industrial societies

A’Hearn, B., Baten, J. and Crayen, D. (2009), ‘Quantifying quantitative literacy: age heaping and the history of human capital’, Journal of Economic History, vol. 69, pp. 783-808 (*)

Allen, R. and Weisdorf, J. (2011), ‘Was there an ‘industrious revolution’ before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, c. 1300-1830’, Economic History Review, vol. 64, pp. 715-729 (*).

Lecture 8: Innovation and the industrial revolution

Allen, R. C. (2009), The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), chs.  6 (*), 8.

Crafts, N. F. R. (2011), “Explaining the first industrial revolution: two views”, European Review of Economic History, vol. 15, pp. 153-168, (*)

Allen, R. C. (2009), “The industrial revolution in miniature: the spinning jenny in Britain, France and India”, Journal of Economic History, vol. 69, pp. 901-927.

Lecture 9: The organization of production (the rise of the factory)

Marglin, S. (1974), ‘What do bosses do ?’, Review of Radical Political Economics, vol. 6, pp. 60-112. (*)

Landes, D. (1986), ‘What do bosses really do?’, Journal of Economic History, vol. 46, pp. 585-623.

Lecture 10: The productivity race: convergence and divergence since the industrial revolution

Allen, R.C. (2012), ‘Technology and the great divergence: global economic development since 1820’, Explorations in Economic History,  vol. 49, pp. 1-16. (*)

Gerschenkron, A. (1962), ‘Economic backwardness in historical perspective’ in Gerschenkron, A., Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Abramovitz, M. (1986), ‘Catching up, forging ahead, falling behind’, Journal of Economic History, vol. 46, pp. 385-406.

Lecture 11: Institutions:  property rights and markets

De Long, J. B. and Schleifer, A.  (1993). “Princes and Merchants: European City Growth Before the Industrial Revolution.” Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 36, pp. 671-702. (*)

Acemoglu, D, Johnson, S. and Robinson, J. (2005), ‘Institutions as a fundamental cause of long run economic growth’ in Aghion, P. and Durlauf, S. (eds), Handbook of Economic Growth (Dordrecht: Elsevier).

Lecture 12: Institutions: state capacity

Dincecco, M. (2009), ‘Fiscal centralization, Limited Government and public revenues in Europe’,  Journal of Economic History, vol. 69, pp. 48-103, 2009. (*)

Dincecco, M. (2017), State Capacity and Economic Development. Present and Past, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Karaman, K. and Pamuk, S. (2013), ‘Different paths to the modern state in Europe: the interaction between warfare, economic structure and political regime’, American Political Science Review, vol. 107, pp. 603-626.

Lecture 13: Culture, beliefs and economic growth

Clark, G. (1987), ‘Why isn’t the whole world developed’, Journal of Economic History, vol. 47, pp. 141-173. (*)

Lecture 14: The social capital debate

Guiso, L., Sapienza, P. and Zingales, L. (2016), ‘Long term persistence’, Journal of European Economic Association, vol. 14, pp. 1401-1436.

Cappelli, G. (2017), ‘The missing link? Trust, cooperative norms and industrial growth in Italy’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 47, pp. 333-358.(*)

Lecture 15 and 16: Financial markets and crises

Bruner, R.F. and Miller, S.C. (2020), ‘The First Modern Financial Crises: The South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles in Historical Perspective’, Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, 32: 17-33. (*)

Klein, M. (2001), ‘The stock market crash of 1929: A review article’, Business History Review, 75(2), 325-351. (*)

Lecture 17: Inequality 1

Milanovic Branko, Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson (2011) ‘Pre-industrial inequality’ Economic Journal, Vol. 121  pp. 255-272. (*)

Alfani, Guido. 2021. "Economic Inequality in Preindustrial Times: Europe and Beyond." Journal of Economic Literature, 59(1):3-44.

Lecture 18: Inequality 2

Vecchi, G. and Amendola, N. (2017), ‘Inequality’ in Vecchi, G. (ed.), Measuring Wellbeing. A History of Italian Living Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Milanovic, B. (2016), Global Inequality. A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (M),  chapter 1 (*), 2(*)



see syllabus

Assessment methods

Written exam

Updated: 12/12/2023 08:49