Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe, 1300-1800 (EINITE)
Principal Investigator: Guido Alfani
Associate Researchers: Fabrice Boudjaaba (CRH; Centre de Recherches Historiques) CNRS/Ecole des Hautes etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France), Carlos Santiago-Caballero (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid, Spain), Wouter Ryckbosch (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium)
Contract Type: ERC Starting Grant (grant agreement no.: 283802)
Project Funding: 995,400 Euros
Start Date: 1 January 2012
End Date: 31 December 2016
The aim of EINITE is to clarify the dynamics of economic inequality in Europe from the late Middle Ages through the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Very little data about economic inequality during such an early period is available today and what is usually involves only single years and/or small areas (usually only one city or village).
This project will change this situation entirely by building an extensive database of economic inequality, mainly of wealth (for which better documentation exists) and focusing on Italy from a wider European perspective. Most of the data will come from new archival research on Medieval and Early Modern sources. While the project will cover systematically the whole of the Italian peninsula, selected areas of Europe will also be researched, starting with England, France, the Low Countries and Spain. Furthermore, published data and existing databases from all over the continent will be collected for comparison.
ENITE activities will be organized around four main research questions:
What is the long-term relationship between economic growth and inequality?
This is the main question to which the others are all connected.
- What were the effects of plagues and other severe mortality crises on property structures?
- What is the underlying relationship between immigration and urban inequality?
- 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 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 explain recent developments in inequality levels in Europe and elsewhere.
Alfani, G. and Di Tullio, M. 2019, The Lion's Share: Inequality and the Rise of the Fiscal State in Preindustrial Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, link here
Alfani, G. 2019, “Wealth and Income Inequality in the long run of history”, in C. Diebolt and M. Hupert (eds.), Handbook of Cliometrics, Springer, forthcoming
Hong, L, Alfani, G., Bonetti, M. and Gigliarano, C. 2018, “giniinc: A Stata package for measuring inequality from incomplete income and survival data”, Stata Journal, 18(3), pp. 692-715
Alfani, G. 2017. “The rich in historical perspective. Evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300-1800)”, Cliometrica, 11(3), pp. 321-348.
Alfani, G. and Ammanati, F. 2017. “Long-term trends in economic inequality: the case of the Florentine State, ca. 1300-1800”, Economic History Review, 70 (4), pp. 1072-1102, open access at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/ehr.12471
Alfani, G. and Di Tullio, M. 2016. “Dinamiche di lungo periodo della disuguaglianza in Italia settentrionale: prime comparazioni”, in SISE, Innovare nella storia economica: temi, metodi, fonti, Fondazione Datini, pp. 369-396.
Alfani, G. and Frigeni, R. 2016. “Inequality (Un)perceived: The Emergence of a Discourse on Economic Inequality from the Middle Ages to the Age of Revolution”, Journal of European Economic History, 1/2016, pp. 21-66.
Alfani, G. and Ryckbosch, W. 2016. “Growing apart in early modern Europe? A comparison of inequality trends in Italy and the Low Countries, 1500–1800”, Explorations in Economic History, 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eeh.2016.07.003, 62, pp. 143-153.
Alfani, G. 2015. “Economic inequality in northwestern Italy: A long-term view (fourteenth to eighteenth centuries)”, Journal of Economic History, 75 (4), pp. 1058-1096.
Ammannati, F. 2015. “La Peste Nera e la distribuzione della proprietà nella Lucchesia del tardo medioevo”, Popolazione e Storia, 2/2015, pp. 21-45.
Ammannati F., De Franco D., Di Tullio M. 2015. “Misurare la diseguaglianza economica nell’età preindustriale: un confronto fra realtà dell’Italia centro-settentrionale”, Rivista di Storia Economica, 31(3), pp. 309-339.
Frigeni, R. 2015. «Una mosca varrebbe più di tutto l’oro del mondo». Dinamiche semantiche di valor ed aestimatio nella riflessione etico-economica medievale sul giusto prezzo (XIII-XV secolo)”, Dianoia, 21, pp. 249-271.
Alfani, G. 2016. The rich in historical perspective. Evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300-1800), IGIER Working Paper n. 571.
Alfani, G., and Di Tullio, M. 2015. Dinamiche di lungo periodo della disuguaglianza in Italia settentrionale: una nota di ricerca, Dondena Working Paper No. 71.
Alfani, G. and Ryckbosch, W. 2015. Was there a ‘Little Convergence’ in inequality? Italy and the Low Countries compared, ca. 1500-1800, IGIER Working Paper n. 557.
Ammannati, F. 2015. La distribuzione della proprietà nella Lucchesia del tardo Medioevo (sec. XIV-XV), Dondena Working Paper n. 73.
García-Montero, H. 2015. Long-term Trends in Wealth Inequality in Catalonia, 1400-1800: Initial Results, Dondena Working Paper n. 79.
Alfani, G., and Ammannati, F. 2014. Economic inequality and poverty in the very long run: The case of the Florentine State (late thirteenth-early nineteenth centuries), Dondena Working Paper No. 70.
Di Tullio, M. 2014. Cooperating against inequality? War and commons in Renaissance Lombardy, Dondena Working Paper No. 69.
Ryckbosch, W. 2014. Economic inequality and growth before the industrial revolution: A case study of the Low Countries (14th-19th centuries), Dondena Working Paper No. 67.
Alfani, G. 2014. Economic inequality in northwestern Italy: A long-term view (fourteenth to eighteenth centuries), Dondena Working Paper No. 61.
Ammannati, F., De Franco, D. and Di Tullio, M. 2014. Misurare la diseguaglianza economica nell’età preindustriale: un confronto fra realtà urbane dell’Italia centro-settentrionale, Dondena Working Paper No. 65.
Alfani, G. and Frigeni, R. 2013. Inequality (un)perceived: The emergence of a discourse on economic inequality from the Middle Ages to the Age of Revolutions, Dondena Working Paper No. 58.
LIST OF SCIENTIFIC ACTIVITIES COMPLETED BY THE FORMAL END OF THE PROJECT IN DECEMBER 2016
25 November 2016, final EINITE Conference, Economic Inequality in Preindustrial Europe, Milan (Italy)
Download the program.
17-18 November 2016, workshop Economía, Poder, Materialidad y Desigualdad Social en la Península Ibérica (1400-1550), Vitoria (Spain)
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Economic Inequality in Preindustrial Europe, 1300-1800. Findings from the EINITE project.
21-22 October 2016, Le disuguaglianze economiche nella storia, Brescia (Italy)
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled La disuguaglianza economica nell’Italia preindustriale: dinamiche di lunghissimo periodo. Francesco Ammannati and Matteo Di Tullio presented a paper entitled Dinamiche di lungo periodo della disuguaglianza economica in età preindustriale: alcune comparazioni tra comunità degli antichi Stati Pontifici. Sergio Sardone also presented a paper entitled Disuguaglianza e disastri naturali nella Sicilia orientale: Ragusa e Misterbianco (secoli XVI-XVIII).
13 June 2016, CORN workshop (Ghent, Belgium)
Guido Alfani presented a paper, entitled Economic inequality across rural Italy and Europe, 1300-1800.
8 June 2016, Paris School of Economics, Paris (France)
Guido Alfani gave a seminar entitled Economic Inequality in preindustial Europe, 1300-1800.
28-30 April 2016, Associazione Italiana per la Storia del Pensiero Economico, Lecce (Italy)
Guido Alfani and Francesco Ammannati presented a paper entitled Potere, fiscalità e disuguaglianza in Toscana tra tardo Medioevo ed Età moderna.
29 March-1 April 2016, European Social Science History Conference Valencia (Spain)
EINITE organized the session Wealth and Income Inequality in Preindustrial Europe and Beyond, chaired by Carlos Santiago-Caballero. The session included three papers presented by EINITE members:
• Guido Alfani and Hector García Montero, Economic Inequality in England: a Long-term Perspective (1290-1750 ca.)
• Guido Alfani, Davide De Franco, Matteo Di Tullio and Hector García Montero, Long-term Trends in Wealth Inequality in Mediterranean Europe: Catalonia, Provence and Liguria compared.
• Guido Alfani and Federico Tadei, Income Inequality in Colonial Africa.
9 March 2016, Insights in Quantitative Italian and European Business and Economic History, Pisa (Italy)
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Reconstructing Long-term Trends in Economic Inequality. Italy and Europe, 1300-1800.
9 December 2015, 4th EINITE Workshop Long-term Trends in Economics Inequality in Europe and Beyond: Social tables and other approaches, Milan (Italy)
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11-13 September 2015, Economic History Association Annual Meeting, Nashville (USA)
Guido Alfani and Sergio Sardone presented a paper entitled Long-term trends in economic inequality in southern Italy. The Kingdom of Naples, sixteenth-eighteenth centuries.
4-5 September 2015, European Historical Economics Society Conference, Pisa (Italy)
Guido Alfani and Davide De Franco presented a paper, entitled Economic and social inequality in a preindustrial society: building a social table for northern Italy (Sabaudian State, 1612).
3-7 August 2015, World Economic History Conference, Kyoto (Japan)
Guido Alfani and Osamu Saito organized a session entitled Economic inequality in pre-industrial Eurasia. All members of the EINITE project contributed to the session.
18 June 2015, Third EINITE Workshop Economic Inequality in Southern Europe, Milan (Italy)
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14-15 May 2015, Passaggi di memoria. La trasmissione generazionale del trauma
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Le crisi di mortalità e la trasmissione della disuguaglianza in Italia tra Medioevo ed Età Moderna.
9 April 2015, Utrecht University, Utrecht (Netherlands)
Guido Alfani gave a seminar entitled Economic inequality in Italy: a long-term view (1300-1800 ca.).
27-29 March 2015, Economic History Society Annual Conference, Wolverhampton (U.K.)
EINITE organized the session Long Term Changes in Economic Inequality, chaired by Richard Smith. The session included two papers presented by EINITE members:
Guido Alfani and Wouter Ryckbosch, Was there a ‘Little Convergence’ in inequality? Low countries and Italy compared, c.1500-1900
Hector García Montero, Economic inequality in England from the middle ages to the eve of the industrial revolution.
6 March 2015, Economic History Workshop, Pisa (Italy)
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Long-term trends in European economic inequality. A comparison of Italy and Low Countries, ca. 1500-1900.
21 November 2014, Second EINITE Workshop, Economic inequality and cultural change: lessons from history, Milan (Italy)
Download the poster here.
Download the invitation here.
10-11 October 2014, Innovare nella Storia Economica: temi, metodi, fonti, Rome (Italy)
Guido Alfani and Matteo Di Tullio presented a paper entitled Dinamiche di lungo periodo sulla diseguaglianza in Italia Settentrionale
Francesco Ammannati gave also a paper, entitled La distribuzione della proprietà nella Lucchesia del tardo medioevo
23-26 April 2014, European Social Science History Conference, Vienna (Austria)
EINITE organized a session entitled Economic Inequality and Population Dynamics. The session included five papers presented by EINITE members:
Guido Alfani and Matteo Di Tullio, Economic inequality and mortality crises in Early Modern Italy: the case of the Republic of Venice, 16th-18th centuries
Fabrice Boudjaaba, Mortality crises and inequalities of wealth in Normandy late 17th-early 18th century
Héctor García-Montero, Wealth inequality and mortality crises in Catalonia, 15th-17th centuries
Wouter Ryckbosch, Demographic growth and inequality during the early modern and modern periods (Flanders, 16th & 19th centuries)
Guido Alfani and Francesco Ammannati, Population, plague and inequality: a long-term view of the impact of mortality crises on economic inequality in Tuscany, fourteenth-eighteenth centuries
Also at this conference, Guido Alfani presented the paper Long-term trends in economic inequality in Western Europe: the case of Piedmont, fourteenth-eighteenth centuries
5 December 2013, First EINITE Workshop, "Measuring inequality in the past: methods and perspectives," Milan (Italy)
Download the poster here
Download the program here
20-22 September 2013, Economic History Association Annual Meeting, Washington D.C. (USA)
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Economic inequality in northwestern Italy: A long-term view (14th to 18th centuries)
12-14 September 2013, 6th Conference of the Associazione Italiana di Studi Urbani (AISU), Catania (Italy)
Two papers co-authored by EINITE members were presented:
Francesco Ammannati, Matteo Di Tullio, and Davide De Franco, Misurare la diseguaglianza economica in eta preindustriale: Un confronto fra realta urbane dell'Italia centro-settentrionale.
Michela Barbot and Matteo Di Trullio, Le case come indice della ricchezza e imponibile fiscale nella Lombardia d'eta moderna.
19-22 August 2013, Rural History Conference
Tine De Moor and Guido Alfani organised the Ruling the Commons session. One of the main sub-topics proposed for the session was Commons and Inequality. Matteo Di Tullio also presented a paper entitled Commons and Inequality in Renaissance Lombardy.
Also at this conference, Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Long-term trends in economic inequality in rural areas. Central and northern Italy, 15th-18th centuries in a session organized by Wouter Ryckbosch and Jaco Zuijderduijn, Towards a comparative approach to rural inequality in the transition debate.
18-21 June 2013, 10th Congress of the Asociación de Demografía Histórica
Guido Alfani presented a paper entitled Economic inequality, household wealth and the life course in Early Modern Italy. The case study of Ivrea (16th-17th century).
5-7 April 2013, Economic History Society Annual Conference, York (U.K.)
EINITE organized the session Economic Inequality in Pre-Industrial Europe, chaired by Richard Smith. The session included two papers presented by EINITE members:
Guido Alfani and Roberta Frigeni, Inequality (un)perceived: the emergence of a discourse on economic inequality from the Middle Ages to the Age of Revolutions
Carlos Santiago Caballero and Eva Fernandez, Income inequality in Madrid, 1500-1850
Also at this conference, Matteo Di Tullio presented the paper Manage, sell and redistribute. Commons and War in Renaissance Lombardy.
22 March 2013, Population History Seminar, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock (Germany)
Guido Alfani gave a seminar presentation discussing EINITE.
12 October 2012, PhD Festival, Trento (Italy)
Guido Alfani gave a presentation about the ERC starting research grant program and EINITE.
4 June 2012, Seminari di Storia Economica e Sociale, Università Bocconi, Milan (Italy)
Guido Alfani gave a seminar presentation discussing EINITE.
10 February 2012, seminar Histoire économique et sociale des campagnes (XVIIe-XIX siècle), EHESS, Paris (France)
Guido Alfani gave a seminar entitled L’inégalité économique en Italie au début de l’Age Moderne : mesures et implications.
The EINITE Database
The EINITE database will include measures of economic inequality across Italy and Europe from the Middle Ages to the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Our longest time series will cover the whole period from the 14th century (pre-Black Death) to the early 19th century. The archive sources we use are mostly property tax records, like the Italian estimi.
The measures of inequality we will provide include Gini and Theil indexes, deciles, quartiles, top 5% and top 1%, plus a large number of institutional, geographic, and social-economic variables for each community. The data will be arranged per community and per year.
The final version of the database will be made public as soon as the cleaning of the data for all the areas covered by the project is completed. Specific sub-sections of the database, and particularly those that have already been the object of publications, are ready and available upon request to the P.I.
Economic Inequality Network
Economic Inequality Network (EI-Net)
Network organizer: Guido Alfani (email@example.com)
EI-Net is the scientific network connecting researchers interested in pre-industrial economic inequality. The network began in January 2013 and welcomes researchers from all over the world, from all disciplines and in all stages of their careers.
The characteristics and trends of economic inequality before the 19th century are still clearly understudied, and almost all we know relates to small areas of the European continent. This network aims to promote new research in the field and to favour scientific exchanges, possibly leading to the start of large-scale cooperative and comparative research projects.
EI-Net is meant simply as a means for circulating information among members. There are no specific commitments and there are no fees to be paid. Any member is welcome to distribute information about scientific initiatives connected to pre-industrial economic inequality by means of the newsletter regularly sent to all members.
The network is supported by the ERC-funded research project EINITE-Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe (1300-1800).
Download the subscription form.
Open Calls Promoted by EI-Net
Conference “Economic inequality in preindustrial Europe” (Bocconi University, Milan, 25 November 2016)
After years of relative neglect by economic historians, recently long-term trends in economic inequality have become the object of considerable attention. This process has involved different parts of the world, but nowhere has research on preindustrial inequality intensified as much as in Europe, partly due to the exceptionally good and ancient historical sources available for many areas of that continent. The project EINITE (Economic Inequality across Italy and Europe 1300-1800), funded by the European Research Council, has also contributed to this renewal of interest by organizing regular workshops on preindustrial inequality and other scientific activities.
EINITE is now working on its final conference, which aims at bringing together representatives of all the main research groups working on preindustrial European inequality. The aim is to provide an opportunity for comparing the wealth of new information about inequality which is being unearthed, to favour cooperation between international scholars, to establish some clear landmarks (‘what we know about inequality’) as well as to indicate the path for future research (‘what we don’t know’).
All proposals about inequality of wealth or income in any part of Europe before ca.1800 are welcome. Preference will be given to proposals presenting new evidence, reconstructing long-term trends and/or offering comparisons between different areas of the continent.
The conference will take place at Bocconi University (Milan, Italy), on 25 November 2016. The organization will cover the travel expenses of all accepted participants.
Proposals, inclusive of a title and a short abstract, should be sent to Guido Alfani (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 5 September 2016.
Session "Economic inequality in pre-industrial Eurasia" at World Economic History Conference (Kyoto, 3-5 August 2015)
There is evidence that in early modern western Europe GDP per capita grew while real wages declined in many European countries over the same period. This finding has been interpreted as indicating that income inequality was widening in the early modern period since per capita GDP averages the earnings of the rich with the poor, whereas the real wage index focuses on the latter only. According to this interpretation, therefore, a finding about Tokugawa Japan, that a divergence between wage change and output growth did not take place, may be regarded as evidence of no rise in inequality during the period before the take-off of modern economic growth.
This session explores long-term changes in economic inequality with more direct measures, such as the Gini, of either income or wealth inequality, or both, in relation to the "left side" of the so-called super Kuznets curve. The topic has long been understudied. However, recent research by European historians has unearthed new data from the archives, which have enabled us to estimate Ginis and other inequality measures for a particular area under a particular set of historical circumstances. It is evident that levels of economic inequality were not immobile during the late medieval and early modern periods. While the general tendency is likely to have been on the rise (suggesting that the "inequality possibility frontier" was expanding), changes took place according to specific mechanisms which are still to be uncovered and explained. This raises new region-specific questions about the early modern European inequality issue.
Moreover, ongoing projects on different parts of the world, especially the Asian region from the Middle East to Japan, urge us to place our research findings in a comparative context. Such comparison has much to do with the current debate on the Great and the Little Divergence. During the past decade, differences in growth performance between Asia and Europe as well as within each of the Eurasian regions have been explored: in Europe the North Sea area kept up the growth momentum but the Mediterranean region could not, while within Asia China and India are likely to have been taken over by slowly but steadily growing Japan during the early modern period. These are phenomena which will raise a broader question about the subtle interplay between growth and inequality in this historic phase of development.
The session is open to contributions from all parts of Europe and Asia, both empirical (providing new data) and theoretical or interpretative. Micro studies are welcome, especially for areas previously uncovered by research on preindustrial inequality, as well as works covering larger areas or having a comparative character.
While the ultimate aim of the session is to provide direct Eurasian comparisons, proposals related to other areas of the world are also much appreciated as they would extend our comparison possibility frontier beyond Eurasia.
If you wish to propose a contribution to the session, please send an email with a provisional title and a short abstract to Guido Alfani (email@example.com) before 31 May 2014.
Session "Economic Inequality and Population Dynamics" at European Social Science History Conference (Vienna, 23-26 April 2014)
This session intends to explore the connection between population dynamics and changes in levels of economic inequality. Some recent studies suggest that demographic factors could have played an important role in determining inequality trends, both in the short and long run. For example, in the long run country-city migration contributed to shaping inequality trends and levels both in urban and in rural communities (due to wealth/income differentials between urban and rural households). In the short run, severe mortality crises, like those caused by the worst plague epidemics, had re-distributive consequences and in some instances (like at the time of the Black Death) could have had 'displacement effects', causing relevant and long-lasting changes in levels of economic inequality. The session welcomes both micro studies as well as general overviews about any area of the world. Preference is given to papers concerning pre-industrial societies.
If you wish to propose a contribution to the session, please send an email including a title and a short abstract to Guido Alfani (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 30 April 2013.
EI Meta-WP Series
This Meta-Working Paper series lists working papers on the history of economic inequality published in official working papers series worldwide. Only contributions written in English and published online since 2010 are included. Papers concerning the period from 1950 until today are included only if they cover at least 40 years of history. If you prefer your paper be removed from the list, or to suggest the inclusion of a paper, please email: email@example.com.
Click here to view the entire database and select a downloadable file.
|Coping with regional inequality in Sweden : structural change, migrations and policy, 1860-2000||Enflo, Roses||1860-2000||October, 2012|
|Financial Reforms and Income Inequality||Agnello, Mallick, Sousa||1973-2005||October, 2012|
|American incomes 1774-1860||Lindert, Williamson||1774-1860||September, 2012|
|Land Markets and Inequality: Evidence from Medieval England||Bekar, Reed||1086-1280||May, 2012|
|Wealth and inequality in Italy||d'Alessio||1965-2010||February, 2012|
|The development of inequality and poverty in Indonesia, 1932-1999||Leeuwen, Foldvari||1932-1999||January, 2012|
|Poverty, Population, Inequality, and Development: the Historical Perspective||Chilosi||1820-2001||December, 2010|
|Main Characteristics of the Hungarian Income Inequality as Shown by the Data of the Income Surveys Carried out by the CSO in the Last Half Century||Elteto, Havasi||1959-2004||November, 2010|
|The long-term patterns of regional income inequality in Spain (1860-2000)||Rosés, Tirado, Galarraga||1860-2000||October, 2010|
|The Fruit of the Vine? An Augmented Endowments-Inequality Hypothesis and the Rise of an Elite in the Cape Colony||Fourie, Johan, von Fintel, Dieter||1663-1773||October, 2010|
|Income inequality in central Spain, 1690-1800||Caballero||1690-1800||October, 2010|
|Violent Conflict and Inequality||Bircan, Brück, Vothknecht||1960-2005||May, 2010|