Nuffield College & Brasenose College,
University of Oxford
I am an economic historian interested in the political economy of pre-industrial Germany - historically more accurately described as the Holy Roman Empire. I have received my DPhil (PhD) in Economic and Social History from the University of Oxford in May 2022 under the supervision of Professor Stephen Broadberry. My research investigates long-run economic inequality, poverty and public finance in the German territories of the Holy Roman Empire, ca. 1300-1800.
My PhD was funded by the AHRC-Nuffield Scholarship and the Global History of Capitalism Scholarship at Brasenose College. I also hold an MSc in Economics from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.
My research investigates long-run economic inequality and taxation in pre-industrial Germany, spanning the period from 1300 to 1800. The goal of my research is to establish and understand major changes in wealth inequality over time. Scholars have suggested a variety of drivers of inequality including demographic shocks, institutional changes, revolts and system collapse as well as economic growth. Since Thomas Piketty’s publication of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, it has become clear that we need to consider the long run to understand the development of inequality.
Pre-industrial Germany has remained an under-researched case, because of a lack of easily available datasets. This is unfortunate as it presents an ideal testing ground for explanations of economic inequality because its constituent territories experienced a variety of demographic shocks (e.g. the Black Death in 1350 and the Thirty Years’ War in 1618-48), institutional changes (e.g. the Reformation beginning in 1517) and economic booms and busts (e.g. the rise and fall of the Hanseatic League). As part of my PhD, I created two new datasets on economic inequality and fiscal systems covering more than 50 urban and rural communities and used these to establish how and why inequality and fiscal systems developed over the long run.
For my research, I have won research grants from the Economic History Society and the German History Society. For my work on poverty in the long-run, I have also received the Economic History Society New Researcher Poster Prize in 2021.
Publications & Working Papers
Alfani, Guido, Victoria Gierok and Felix Schaff, "Economic inequality in preindustrial Germany, ca. 1300-1850", Journal of Economic History, 2022, Vol. 82 (1), pp.87-125
Work in Progress
"Taxation, Credit and Public Expenditure in Urban Germany, 1400-1800"
"A Poverty of Numbers: First Poverty Estimates for Preindustrial Germany, 1350-1800", winner of the Economic History Society New Researcher Poster Prize 2021
"Women and Wealth: Gender Differences in Wealth Inequality over the Long Run"
"Wealth Inequality and Social Mobility in Lübeck 1664-1784"