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
Born in Broni, Pavia, Italy, Alesina obtained his undergraduate degree in economics from Bocconi University (DES) in 1981, then continued his studies at Harvard University, receiving an M.A. (1985) and a Ph.D. (1986). Alesina was then a postdoc and assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
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 Voxeu.org and of Lavoce.info.
Alesina's work has covered a variety of topics, including:
- Political business cycles
- The political economy of fiscal policy and budget deficits
- The process of European integration
- Stabilization policies in high inflation countries
- The determination of the size of countries
- Currency unions
- The political economic determinants of redistributive policies
- Differences in the welfare state in the US and Europe
- Differences in the economic system in the US and Europe
- The effect of alternative electoral systems on economic policies
- The determination of the choice of different electoral systems
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. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.
The Alesina-Ardagna paper
In October 2009 Alesina and Silvia Ardagna published Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending, 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. On June 6, 2013 U.S. economist and 2008 Nobel laureate Paul Krugman published How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled 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.
- 1995. Partisan Politics, Divided Government and the Economy (with Howard Rosenthal). Cambridge. Description & TOC and preview.
- 1997a. Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy (with Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen). MIT Press. Description and chapter-preview links.
- 1997b. Designing Macroeconomic Policy for Europe (with Olivier Blanchard et al.), CEPR, London.
- 2003. The Size of Nations (with Enrico Spolaore). MIT Press. Description and chapter-preview links.
- 2004. Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference (with Edward Glaeser). Oxford. Description, and "slide-show" summary, and chapter-preview links via "select" click.
- 2006. The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline (with Francesco Giavazzi), MIT Press. Description, Introduction, preview.
- 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.
- 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. NBER. Abstract.
- 2012. "The Output Effect of Fiscal Consolidations" (with Carlo Favero and Francesco Giavazzi), NBER Working Paper No. 18336.
- 2012. "Ethnic Inequality" (with Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou), NBER Working Paper No. 18512.
- 2013. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity" (with Johann Harnoss and Hillel Rapoport), NBER Working Paper No. 18699.