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Victoria Gierok

Department of Economics,

Nuffield College,

University of Oxford

I am a British Academy post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Economics, University of Oxford. My work focuses on 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.

Research Interests

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.

In recognition of its outstanding contribution to the field, my dissertation was honored with the Thirsk-Feinstein Prize by the Economic History Society as the best dissertation of 2023.




Victoria Gierok "The Thirty Years' War and the Decline of Urban Germany", Oxford Economics and Social History Working Paper Series, no. 210

"Poverty, inequality and inequality extraction: Germany from the Black Death until the beginning of industrialization " - with Guido Alfani and Felix Schaff, Explorations in Economic History: Special Issue Workshop on Wealth and Income Inequality (forthcoming)

"Economic inequality in preindustrial Germany, ca. 1300-1850" - with Guido Alfani and Felix Schaff, Journal of Economic History, 2022, Vol. 82 (1), pp.87-125

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