Gino Luzzatto Prize

The EHES is delighted to organise again the Gino Luzzatto Dissertation Competition. Applicable for application is everyone who defend(ed) their PhD thesis between July 2021 and June 2023. The Luzzatto Prize Committee has selected three finalists that will present their work at the conference – in alphabetical order:

Jordi Caum-Julio (University of Barcelona) – Land revenue, inequality, and development in colonial India (1880-1910)

In this dissertation I explore how colonial land institutions influenced both income inequality and the provision and funding of hospitals in colonial India. To do so, I present the first income inequality estimates assessing its evolution and levels across provinces and districts as well as a novel georeferenced hospital-level database. Findings suggest that the introduction of different colonial landownership rights granting landownership and land revenue liability either to intermediaries or cultivators — explain differences in agricultural income inequality across districts and correlate with its evolution. These different landownership rights also affected the funding of hospitals through its interaction with local agency.

Safya Morshed (London School of Economics) – The Evolutionary Empire: Demystifying State Formation in Mughal South Asia (1556 1707)

My thesis studies the effects of conflicts on state formation in Mughal South Asia. It shows that the precarious relationship between the state and powerful elites led the state to adopt policies which prioritised local governance. The first chapter explains high rebel forgiveness rates by demonstrating it was the elites’ administrative capacity that incentivised their reincorporation into government. The second chapter shows a growth in peasant rebellions which can be linked to climate anomalies. The third chapter shows conflict pressures precipitated a ‘localisation’ of the state’s administration. The findings highlight the importance of local cultures and environments in influencing paths of state formation.

Benjamin M. Schneider (University of Oxford) – Technological Change and Work

This dissertation examines the impact of innovation on jobs using more than 14,000 archival wage observations and detailed qualitative evidence of working conditions. It constructs the first index of historical job quality and shows that macroinventions broadened the range of tasks, which led to an increased division
of labor and raised the inequality of job-related wellbeing. It also demonstrates that there was a short-run tradeoff between job quality and productivity, and that some technological changes produced widespread unemployment. These findings contribute to scholarship on the development of living standards and provide perspective for discussions about the future of work.


Past winners of the prize include

  • * Felix Kersting (Humboldt University), The Political Economy of Social Identity in 19th Century Germany (2019-21)
  • * Thilo Albers (London School of Economics), Trade Frictions, Trade Policies, and the Interwar Business Cycle (2017-19)
  • * Thor Berger (Lund University), Engines of Growth: Essays in Swedish Economic History (2015-17)