Entrepreneurship, knowledge and employment

Between two worlds: Riccardo Bachi's work as economist and sionist thinker (1875-1951)

Pavanelli Giovanni, University of Torino
Pagliai Letizia, University of Turin

Riccardo Bachi (Turin, 1875-Rome, 1951) was an influential and fairly original Italian economist and statistician. He wrote several path-breaking essays and monographs on economic fluctuations and business cycles, on the methodology of Index numbers, on monetary and fiscal policies and on modern Italian economic history. Amongst his writings, some of them circulated outside Italy, we mention here L’Italia economica, a systematic survey of the economic conditions of Italy published yearly from 1909 to 1921 and Principii di scienza economica (1937-39, in 2 vols.) a well documented and theoretically up to date handbook of economics. Bachi’s work on applied statistics culminated in a carefully elaborated index number of wholesale prices (Bachi’s Index) largely used in Italy and abroad during interwar period to compute price level changes. In October 1938, as a consequence of the enforcement of racist measures by fascist government aimed at discriminating and segregating the Italian citizens of Jewish origin, Bachi was expelled from the University of Rome. The following year he decided to emigrate to Palestine with his wife and his son Roberto, then statistician at the University of Genoa. He settled in Tel Aviv and started to teach a course of economics at the “School of Law and Economics”, now University of Tel Aviv. Some key aspects of this experience are documented in his writings and in his correspondence with Luigi Einaudi (who, in 1944, had been forced to emigrate to Switzerland). After the defeat of fascism, Bachi was reinstated by the new Italian government in his post at the University of Rome and in 1946 he opted to come back to Italy. This paper aims at assessing Bachi’s work as economist and at analysing his studies on Jewish culture, on the social and economic consequences of the Jewish emigration in Palestine in the interwar period and on the economic conditions of Palestine, then Israel, from the 1920s to the 1940s.

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Keywords: Italian Economic Thought ; Zionism ; forced emigration

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