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Classical Liberalism in Italian Economic Thought, from the Time of Unification

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  • Alberto Mingardi

Abstract

Although classical liberalism has not had a profound impact on political institutions in Italy since its unification in the 1860s, the country had a vibrant classical liberal tradition, especially among economists. The Italian scuola di scienza delle finanze played a key role in anticipating the approach later identified with public choice economics, and accordingly it was highly valued and appraised by James M. Buchanan. While many Italian classical liberal thinkers, both in the 19th and in the 20th century, are still by and large ignored outside the boundaries of Italy, several have had an important impact on the ideas of liberals around the world. This paper summarizes the development of classical liberalism in Italy since the 1860s, focusing on liberal economists who took part in public debate. Political realism has been a unifying feature of the Italian liberal tradition, including a strong skepticism toward ‘industrial policy,’ as top-down industrial development has been promoted by government ever since unification. This paper broadly outlines the key thinkers in this tradition: Francesco Ferrara, Vilfredo Pareto, Luigi Einaudi, Bruno Leoni, and Sergio Ricossa.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Mingardi, 2017. "Classical Liberalism in Italian Economic Thought, from the Time of Unification," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 14(1), pages 1-22–54, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:14:y:2017:i:1:p:22-54
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Boldrin,Michele & Levine,David K., 2010. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521127264.
    2. Francesco Giavazzi & Marco Pagano, 1990. "Can Severe Fiscal Contractions Be Expansionary? Tales of Two Small European Countries," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 75-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 23-48, Spring.
    4. Fossati, Amedeo, 2012. "Pareto’S Influence On Scholars From The Italian Tradition In Public Finance," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 43-66, March.
    5. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
    6. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918.
    7. repec:taf:eujhet:v:24:y:2017:i:1:p:25-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000002371, UCLA Department of Economics.
    9. Francesco Forte & Roberto Marchionatti, 2012. "Luigi Einaudi's economics of liberalism," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 587-624, August.
    10. Blyth, Mark, 2013. "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199828302.
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    Cited by:

    1. L. Di Matteo & Tom Barbiero, 2017. "Economic Growth and the Public Sector: A Comparison of Canada and Italy, 1870†2013," Working Papers 069, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Italy; classical liberalism; Camillo Cavour; Francesco Ferrara; Vilfredo Pareto; Luigi Einaudi; Bruno Leoni;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)

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