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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?

Lorenzo, Miriam and I have just completed a new version of our land reform paper. Read it here.

I’m an economist working on development, political economy and economic history. I’m especially interested in how new technologies help agrarian societies industrialize. I hold a Ph.D. from Universitat Pompeu Fabra and I was visiting Ph.D. student at 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 examples of my work. For more, visit my research page.

Redistribution and Clientelism

Do redistribution policies promote or undermine clientelism? On the one hand, redistributing wealth to the poor may make it harder for politicians to buy their votes, thus limiting clientelist exchanges. At the same time, client-patron relationships are based on gratitude and reciprocity. By generating gratitude among beneficiaries, redistribution may then create the conditions for clientelism to emerge. In a paper with Lorenzo Casaburi and Miriam Venturini we argue that this second channel can be strong, and show that a major land reform in 1950 Italy led to the emergence of a clientelist system that lasted for 40 years.

New Deal, New Patriots

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.