Alberto Alesina

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Alberto Alesina
Alberto Alesina (2013).jpg
Alesina in 2013
Born (1957-04-29) April 29, 1957 (age 62)
Career information
FieldPolitical economics
Alma materHarvard University
Bocconi University
Jeffrey Sachs
Silvana Tenreyro
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Alberto Francesco Alesina (born April 29, 1957) is an Italian political economist. He has published much-cited books and articles in major economics journals.

Background and professional life[edit]

Alesina was born in Broni, Pavia, Italy.[citation needed] Alesina obtained his undergraduate degree in economics from Bocconi University.[1]

From 2003–2006, Alesina served as Chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard. He is currently the Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economy at Harvard. He has visited several institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tel Aviv University, University of Stockholm, The World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2006, Alesina participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project.

He has published five books and edited many more. His two most recent books are The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline (2006, MIT Press), and Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference (2004, Oxford). He has been a co-editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics for eight years and associate editor of many academic journals. He has published columns in many leading newspapers around the world. He is founding contributor of the online economic policy and research journal and of

Alesina's work has covered a variety of topics, including:

Alesina is a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, Massachusetts), the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, and the Econometric Society.[2] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.[3]


Alesina is an influential proponent of austerity during the Great Recession.[1][4] Alesina argues that austerity can be expansionary in situations where government reduction in spending is offset by greater increases in aggregate demand (private consumption, private investment and exports).[5]

In October 2009 Alesina and Silvia Ardagna published "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending",[6] a much-cited academic paper aimed at showing that fiscal austerity measures did not hurt economies, and actually helped their recovery. In 2010 the paper "Growth in a Time of Debt" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff was published and widely accepted, setting the stage for the wave of fiscal austerity that swept Europe during the Great Recession. In April 2013, economists Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that the Reinhart-Rogoff paper was flawed, in part due to coding errors in a spreadsheet.[7] On June 6, 2013 U.S. economist and 2008 Nobel laureate Paul Krugman published "How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled"[8] in The New York Review of Books, noting how influential these articles have been with policymakers, describing the paper by the 'Bocconi Boys' Alesina and Ardagna (from the name of their Italian alma mater) as "a full frontal assault on the Keynesian proposition that cutting spending in a weak economy produces further weakness", arguing the reverse.

Selected publications[edit]



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  • 1987. "Macroeconomic Policy in a Two-Party System as a Repeated Game," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 102(3), p pp. 651–678.
  • 1988b. "Macroeconomics and Politics," NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1988, Volume 3, pp. 13–62.
  • 1991. "Why Are Stabilizations Delayed?" (with Allan Drazen), American Economic Review, 81(5), pp. 1170–1188.
  • 1993. "Central Bank Independence and Macroeconomic Performance: Some Comparative Evidence" (with Lawrence H. Summers), Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 25(2), p pp. 151–162.
  • 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth" (with Dani Rodrik), Quarterly Journal of Economics, 109(2), p pp. 465–490.
  • 1995. "The Political Economy of Budget Deficits" (with Roberto Perotti), IMF Staff Papers, 42(1), pp. pp. 1–31.
  • 1996a. "Political Instability and Economic Growth" (with Sule Özler et al.), Journal of Economic Growth, 1(2), p pp. 189–211.
  • 1996b. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," (with Roberto Perotti), European Economic Review, 40(6), pp. 1203–1228. Abstract.
  • 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations" (with Enrico Spolaore), Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(4), p pp. 1027–1056.
  • 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions" (with Reza Baqir & William Easterly), Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(4), pp. 1243–1284.[permanent dead link]
  • 2000a. "Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why?" (with David Dollar), Journal of Economic Growth, 5(1), p pp. 33–63.
  • 2000b. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities" (with Eliana La Ferrara), Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), p pp. 847–904.
  • 2002a. "Who Trusts Others?" Journal of Public Economics, 85(2), pp. 207–234 (close Pages tab).
  • 2002b. "Fiscal Policy, Profits, and Investment" (with Silvia Ardagna et al.), American Economic Review, 92(3), pp. 571–589.
  • 2003. "Fractionalization" (with Arnaud Devleeschauwer et al.), Journal of Economic Growth, 8(2), p pp. 155–194.
  • 2004. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?" (with Rafael Di Tellab and Robert MacCulloch), Journal of Public Economics, 88(9–10), pp. 2009–2042 (close Bookmarks tab).
  • 2005a. "International Unions" (with Ignazio Angeloni and Federico Etro), American Economic Review, 95(3), p pp. 602–615.
  • 2005b. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance" (with Eliana La Ferrara), Journal of Economic Literature, 43(3), pp. 762–800.
  • 2007:3. "Political Economy," NBER Reporter, pp. 1–5 (press +).
  • 2010. "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes versus Spending" (with Silvia Ardagna), in J. R. Brown, ed., Tax Policy and the Economy, v. 24, ch. 2, pp. 35–68. doi:10.1086/649828
  • 2015. "The Output Effect of Fiscal Consolidations" (with Carlo Favero and Francesco Giavazzi), Journal of International Economics, vol 96, pages S19-S42. doi:10.1016/j.jinteco.2014.11.003
  • 2016. "Ethnic Inequality" (with Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou), Journal of Political Economy, vol. 124(2), pages 428-488 doi:10.1086/685300
  • 2016. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity" (with Johann Harnoss and Hillel Rapoport), Journal of Economic Growth, vol. 21(2), pages 101-138 doi:10.1007/s10887-016-9127-6


  1. ^ a b Helgadóttir, Oddný (2016-03-15). "The Bocconi boys go to Brussels: Italian economic ideas, professional networks and European austerity". Journal of European Public Policy. 23 (3): 392–409. doi:10.1080/13501763.2015.1106573. ISSN 1350-1763.
  2. ^ *Harvard Faculty page.
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  4. ^ Farrell, Henry; Quiggin, John (2017). "Consensus, Dissensus, and Economic Ideas: Economic Crisis and the Rise and Fall of Keynesianism". International Studies Quarterly. 61 (2): 269–283. doi:10.1093/isq/sqx010. ISSN 0020-8833.
  5. ^ Alesina, Alberto; Favero, Carlo; Giavazzi, Francesco (2019). Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn't. Princeton University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-691-17221-7. JSTOR j.ctvc77f4b.
  6. ^ Alesina, Alberto F.; Ardagna, Silvia (October 2009). "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending". NBER Working Paper No. 15438. CiteSeerX doi:10.3386/w15438.
  7. ^ Herndon, Thomas; Ash, Michael; Pollin, Robert (2013). "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff". Cambridge Journal of Economics. 38 (2): 257–279. CiteSeerX doi:10.1093/cje/bet075.
  8. ^ How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled, Paul Krugman, The New York Review of Books, June 6, 2013

External links[edit]