Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Econometric modelling in Italy: from economic planning to academic research

Rancan Antonella, University of Molise

The paper focuses on a specific episode that contributed to the shift of intellectual influences towards the United States: the beginning of the collaboration between the Bank of Italy's Servizio Studi (Research Department) and Franco Modigliani for the building of the Bank’s macroeconometric model (De Cecco 1989, 224). Indeed, this collaboration represented one of the first channels, and perhaps among the most relevant ones, of importing both the American mainstream interpretation of Keynesian theory and the practice of translating mathematical models in quantitative terms (for Modigliani economic theory and empirical verification were inseparable aspects). The paper aims to investigate, also through archival material collected at the Bank of Italy, how this channel of transmission of ideas and practice in doing economic research worked. I focus on the relationships Modigliani established with young economists of the Servizio Studi, many of whom spent research periods at MIT or other American universities, on what researches they carried out abroad and which contact networks they established in the United States and subsequently in Italy, contributing to a progressive alignment of economic science in Italy to international standards.

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Keywords: Italian Economic Thought; Modigliani, Americanization; Mathematization; econometric modelling