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Learning Objectives

LEARNING OUTCOMES: The course adopts a long-term perspective and aims at training students that are on the one hand aware of the main socio-economic facts that have occurred in recent economic history, on the other able to interpret the facts themselves in the light of the economic theories considered. The course focuses heavily on European economic history.

The student learns and develops the basic lexicon of economic history and knowledge of concepts such as structural economic change, Engel's law, population growth and demographic transition, development of technology and human capital, institutions, international trade, production specialization, comparative advantages and protectionism, also in light of historical quantitative reconstructions (database). This knowledge allows the student to better understand the evolution of economic systems (for example the transition from Malthusian economy to modern economy growth; the transition from a market economy with flexible prices, to an economy characterized by the strong presence of public intervention and fixed prices) in a long-term perspective.

At the end of the course, the student is able to write an essay in economic history that combines the description of an economic fact of the past, not necessarily considered in the course of European Economic History, and its interpretation using the economic theory deemed appropriate for the institutional and socio-economic context of analysis.

The student achieves autonomy of judgment in assessing the adequacy of alternative economic reasonings and theories in explaining a fact of interest for economic history.

The student develops personal communication skills through active participation, Through participation in working groups of 3-4 students, and writing an essay in economic history, the student improves his interpersonal communication skills.

The student acquires a study and work methodology that makes him potentially able to face and analyze socio-economic facts related to contexts even different from those considered in the European Economic History course.


basic knowledge of economics and of database management



PART I (mostly based on the book by Persson e Sharp) :
1. The making of Europe
2. Europe from obscurity to economic recovery
3. Population, economic griwth and resource constraints
4. The nature and extent of economic growth in the pre-industrial epoch
5. Institutions and growth
6. Knowledge, technology transfer and convergence
7. Money, credit and banking
8.Trade, tariffs and growth
9. International monetray regimes in history
10. The era of political economy: from minimal states to the Welfare State in teh twentieth century
11. Inequality among and within nations: past, present, future
12. Globalization and its challenge to Europe.

PART II ( of empirical nature and based on the Roses and Wolf database) :
Regional economic development in Europe, 1900-2010: a quantitative approach.


Persson, K. G., Sharp, P. (2015), An Economic History of Europe. Knowledge, Institutions and Growth, 600 to the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition. ISBN-10: ‎ 110747938X. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1107479388.

Rosés, J.R, Wolf, N. (2019), The Economic Development of Europe's Regions. A Quantitative History since 1900, Routledge Explorations in Economic History.


Rosés-Wolf database on regional GDP, available at

Broadberry, S. O'Rourke, K. (2010), The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe. Volume 1: 1700-1870, Cambridge University Press.

Broadberry, S. O'Rourke, K. (2010), The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe. Volume 2: 1870 to the Present, Cambridge University Press.

Crafts, N. Toniolo, G. (1996), Economic Growth in Europe since 1945, Cambridge University Press.

Koyama, and Rubin, J. T. (2022), How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth, Cambridge : Polity Press.

Teaching methods

The lessons will take place at the University or remotely depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 during the 2022-23 academic year. In each of the six weeks of lessons, the first two lessons will relate to the first part of the program, while the third lesson will concern the discussion of the historical themes and organization of the work of the various teams of students.

Exam Rules

The overall assessment of the student takes into account both an individual oral examination and a written teamwork essay.

At the beginning of the course students are divided into working groups each with 4-5 students per group. Each team appoints a team leader who coordinates the group and verifies the active participation of students. Each team produce a complete written essay on a economic history topic agreed with the teacher. Essays of empirical nature are encouraged and each team can use standard softwares such as R or Stata.

The student's overall assessment takes into account both an individual written test and an individual oral examination.