Einaudi, Luigi

views updated Jun 08 2018

Einaudi, Luigi



Luigi Einaudi (1874–1961), Italian economist and statesman, was born at Carrù, in the province of Cuneo. He studied with Salvatore Cognetti de Martis at the University of Turin and was appointed a fellow in political economy there in 1899 and professor of financial science in 1907. He taught for a short time at a secondary school and held an appointment as teacher of economics at the Luigi Bocconi Commercial University in Milan, and for more than forty years he was on the faculty at Turin.

Forced to flee Italy after the 1943 armistice, Einaudi taught for a while at the University of Geneva. After his return to Italy, he became successively governor of the Bank of Italy in 1945, deputy to the Constituent Assembly in 1946, vice-president of the Council and minister of the budget in De Gasperi’s fourth cabinet in 1947, senator in 1948, and on May 11, 1948, president of the republic.

He returned to private life in 1955 at the end of his presidential term. For the rest of his life he lived on an estate near his birthplace, taking particular pleasure in his magnificent library of economic works. As late as 1961 he was working on the problem of Italian monetary reform, suggesting that a new unit of currency be adopted, to be worth 1,000 lire and to be called the scudo.

Although he found some merit in Pareto and his followers, Einaudi is reputed to have considered Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill the greatest of all economists. Always a strong supporter of freedom and an opponent of monopoly, Einaudi’s economic writings included a defense of trade union freedom, yet he never observed the degree to which the state and the trade unions themselves were becoming monopolies.

Many of Einaudi’s most important writings are in the field of finance and taxation. The best known is probably his Principî di scienza della ftnanza (1932), which was published in many editions. He also made studies of the Italian fiscal system, the relationship between taxes and savings, the myths and paradoxes of fiscal justice, and the relationships between taxes and land.

During his period of exile in Switzerland, he published, under the pseudonym of Junius, I problemi economici della federazione europea (1945). His commitment to federation dated back to the turn of the century, and he had long been concerned with the problems it involved.

Einaudi’s primary interest was, however, history—both economic history and the history of economic thought. His study of the Piedmont financial system during the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701–1714, is a model of patient inquiry, and it produced material of significance to twentieth-century problems. An earlier work, Un principe mercante: Studio sulla espansione coloniale italiana (1900b), is a study of the expansion of a “developing” country. He also analyzed the works of individual economists, including those of Ferrari, Adam Smith, and Sismondi.

In addition to teaching and writing on economics, Einaudi was active as an editor and journalist. He brought out in 1933, for example, a new edition of Jules Dupuit’s De l’utilité et de sa mesure, in Italian. For many years he was editor of the journal La riforma sociale. The title was an accurate reflection of his liberal social views, and the journal was suppressed in the 1930s. He later started another journal, the Rivista di storia economica, intending to imply by the title change that the contents were politically safe. Since this was not the case, the new journal survived only three years. Einaudi remained throughout his life a classicist in economics and an old-fashioned liberal in politics.

Ugo Papi


1900a La rendita mineraria (Mining Income). Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice.

1900b Un principe mercante: Studio sulla espansione coloniale italiana (A Merchant Prince: Essay on Italian Colonial Expansion). Turin: Bocca.

1902 Studi sugli effetti delle imposte: Contributo allo studio dei problemi tributari municipali (Studies in the Effects of Taxes). Turin: Bocca.

1924 La terra e l’imposta (The Land and the Tax).Milan: Università Commerciale Bocconi.

1927 La guerra e il sistema tributario italiano (The War and the Italian Taxation System). Bari: Laterza & Figli.

1929 Contribute alla ricerca dell’ “ottima imposta” (Contributions to Research on the Optimum Tax). Milan: Università Commerciale Bocconi.

(1932) 1948 Principî di scienza della finanza. (Principles of Financial Science). 4th ed., rev. Turin: Einaudi.

1933 La condotta economica e gli effetti sociali della guerra italiana (The Economic Conduct and Social Effects of the First World War). New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

1945 I problemi economici della Federazione Europea (The Economic Problems of European Federation). Milan: La Fiaccola.

1949 Lezioni di politica sociale (Social Politics). Turin: Einaudi.

(1954) 1955 II buongoverno: Saggi di economia e politica, 1897–1954 (Good Government). Bari: Laterza.

1955 Prediche inutili (Useless Sermons). Turin: Einaudi.

1956 Lo scrittoio del presidente (1948–1955) (The President’s Desk). Turin: Einaudi.


Bernardino, Anselmo 1954 Vita di Luigi Einaudi.Padua: CEDAM.

Bousquet, G. H. 1962 Luigi Einaudi (1874–1961).Revue d’économie politique 72:5–12.

Divisia, FranÇois 1963 Luigi Einaudi: 1874–1961.Econometrica 31:240–241.