SMITE - Social Mobility and Inequality across Italy and Europe, 1300-1800
Principal Investigator: Dr. Guido Alfani
Contract Type: Grant ERC Horizon 2020 Consolidator Grant
Project Funding: €1.5 million
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 725687)
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. The objective is not only to measure mobility, but also to understand its consequences for the economy and society at large. Very few data about preindustrial social mobility are available today, especially for southern Europe. SMITE will collect an extensive database about social mobility, measured in different ways including: economic mobility across wealth classes and occupational mobility. Archival research will be concentrated on Italy where excellent sources exist, but the Italian case will be placed in the wider European context. The few existing databases from all over the continent will be collected for comparison and direct research will be done on some regions of Europe beyond Italy, especially in France, Spain and the Low Countries.
SMITE will reconstruct social mobility trends both in growing and in declining areas of Europe. The connection between social mobility and economic growth will be assessed. SMITE will also analyse in detail the connection between long-term changes in social mobility and in economic inequality, which is a novel and potentially very important research avenue. It will receive from an earlier ERC project (EINITE) the largest existing database on preindustrial inequality. It 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. In fact, upward social mobility might have slowed down in southern Europe from ca. 1600 (as some literature suggests) but not in the North, thus determining in the South a particularly unfavourable combination of high inequality and a closed society which might have contributed to the North-South divergence.
Read more (in Italian) about the project at Bocconi Knowledge.
SMITE PUBLICATIONS UNTIL JULY 2022
Alfani, G. and García Montero, H. (2022), “Wealth inequality in pre-industrial England: A long-term view (late thirteenth to sixteenth centuries)”, The Economic History Review, forthcoming, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ehr.13158
Alfani, G. (2022), “Epidemics, inequality and poverty in preindustrial and early industrial times”, Journal of Economic Literature, 60(1), pp. 3-40, https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jel.20201640
Alfani, G., Gierok, V. and Schaff, F., “Economic inequality in preindustrial Germany, ca. 1300-1850”, Journal of Economic History, 82(1), pp. 87-125, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-economic-history/article/economic-inequality-in-preindustrial-germany-ca-13001850/9552F32E3BCEA8FEED2B7B42734FC234#
Alfani, G. (2021), “Economic inequality in preindustrial times: Europe and beyond”, Journal of Economic Literature, 59(1), pp. 3-44, https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jel.20191449
Alfani, G. and Schifano, S. (2021), “Wealth inequality in the long run”, in J.L. Van Zanden et al. (ed.), How Was Life? Volume II, OECD, pp. 103-23, https://orbilu.uni.lu/handle/10993/48566
Ammannati, F. (2020), “La disuguaglianza economica in area marchigiana: uno studio di lungo periodo (1400-1800)”, in G. Nigro (ed.), Disuguaglianza economica nelle società preindustriali: cause ed effetti / Economic inequality in pre-industrial societies: causes and effects, Florence University Press, Florence, https://books.fupress.com/catalogue/la-disuguaglianza-economica-in-area-marchigiana-uno-studio-di-lungo-periodo-1400-1800/4314
García-Montero, G. (2020), “Wealth inequality in Catalonia, 1400-1800. Sources, data and a case study”, in G. Nigro (ed.), Disuguaglianza economica nelle società preindustriali: cause ed effetti / Economic inequality in pre-industrial societies: causes and effects, Florence University Press, Florence, https://books.fupress.com/catalogue/wealth-inequality-in-catalonia-1400-1800-sources-data-and-a-case-study/4317
Di Tullio, M. (2020), “Dinamiche della disuguaglianza economica nella Repubblica di Venezia: fonti e metodi d’indagine a partire dal caso Padovano”, in G. Nigro (ed.), Disuguaglianza economica nelle società preindustriali: cause ed effetti / Economic inequality in pre-industrial societies: causes and effects, Florence University Press, Florence, https://books.fupress.com/chapter/Dinamiche%20della%20disuguaglianza%20economica%20nella%20Repubblica%20di%20Venezia%3A%20fonti%20e%20metodi%20d%E2%80%99indagine%20a%20partire%20dal%20caso%20padovano/4315
Sardone, S. (2020), “Ricchezza e proprietà in una città levantina: Bari tra Cinque e Settecento”, in G. Nigro (ed.), Disuguaglianza economica nelle società preindustriali: cause ed effetti / Economic inequality in pre-industrial societies: causes and effects, Florence University Press, Florence, https://books.fupress.com/chapter/Ricchezza%20e%20propriet%C3%A0%20in%20una%20citt%C3%A0%20levantina%3A%20Bari%20tra%20Cinque%20e%20Settecento/4316
Alfani, G. (2020), “Economic inequality in preindustrial Europe, 1300-1800: methods and results from the EINITE project”, in G. Nigro (ed.), Disuguaglianza economica nelle società preindustriali: cause ed effetti / Economic inequality in pre-industrial societies: causes and effect, Florence University Press, Florence, https://books.fupress.com/catalogue/economic-inequality-in-preindustrial-europe-1300-1800-methods-and-results-from-the-einite-project/4313
Alfani, G. (2018), “La disuguaglianza economica nell’Italia preindustriale: dinamiche di lunghissimo periodo”, in G. Gregorini (ed.), Le disuguaglianze economiche nella storia, Vita e Pensiero, Milan, pp. 26-40
LIST OF CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCE SESSIONS COMPLETED BY THE FORMAL END OF THE PROJECT IN MAY 2022
29 April 2022, final SMITE Conference, Social Mobility in Preindustrial Europe, Milan (Italy)
2 April 2022, organization of session Social mobility and plagues in preindustrial times at the Economic History Society Conference, Cambridge (U.K.)
8 November 2021, SMITE Workshop, Studying social mobility in past societies, Milan (Italy)
25 March 2021, organization of session Inequality and Social Mobility in Preindustrial Europe at the European Social Science History Conference, Leiden (The Netherlands)
25 October 2019, Workshop Political Change, Social Mobility and Wealth Distribution in Historical Perspective, Milan (Italy)
6 April 2019, organization of session Inequality and social mobility in preindustrial Europe at the Economic History Society Conference, Belfast (U.K.)
28 September 2018, Workshop Occupational Structures in European History, Milan (Italy)
1 August 2018, organization of session Preindustrial inequality: Europe, Asia and the Americas compared at the World Economic History Conference, Boston (U.S.)
4 April 2018, organization of session Mortality crises and social mobility at the European Social Science History Conference, Belfast (U.K.)
The SMITE database will include standardized measures of social-economic mobility built from mobility matrixes across Italy and Europe from the Middle Ages to the eve of the Industrial Revolution. The archive sources we use for this purpose are mostly property tax records, like the Italian estimi. 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.