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Bruno Caprettini

Economic History and Economic Development

About me

I am a post-doc at the Economics Department of University of Zurich. I work on development, political economy and economic history.

What is new?

Joachim, Quentin & I are looking for bright and enthusiastic students for a 1-year pre-doc at UZH. Download the call here.

I’m an economist working on development, political economy and economic history. I’m especially interested in how agrarian societies industrialize, and how technology and politics affect this process. I hold a Ph.D. from Universitat Pompeu Fabra and I spent a year as a visiting student in Princeton. I’m currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Zurich, where the Swiss National Foundation generously sponsors my position with the program SNF Ambizione. In 2020, I was a visiting fellow at the Center for Economic History at Northwestern University.

Here you find two recent examples of my work. For more, visit my research page.

The Electoral Impact of Wealth Redistribution

After World War II, the Italian government of Alcide De Gasperi passes a major reform that redistributes land from large to small land-owners. In public, the Christian Democrat (DC) government declares that the objectives of the reform are efficiency and social justice. Behind the scenes however, DC politicians are worried about the spread of Communism in the countryside, and they see the land reform as a way stem the “Red Wave”. In a new paper with Lorenzo and Miriam, we show how the 1951 land reform benefited Christian Democrats for over 40 years.

From Welfare to Warfare

Why do ordinary citizens take up arms and fight for their nation? What turns normal folks into patriots? Joachim and I think that the answer lies in modern welfare states. Modern nation-states provide support to the old, to the sick, and to the needy. By helping in times of distress, these states acquire a moral claim on their citizens, and motivate them to fight in times of danger. In a new paper, we show the strength of this idea in the case of the US during the New Deal and World War II.