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Loria, Achille

Loria, Achille



Achille Loria (1857–1943), Italian economic theorist, was born and

raised in Mantua and received his laurea in law at Bologna in 1877. Subsequently he came under the influence of Luigi Cossa at Pavia, Angelo Messedaglia at Rome, and Adolf Wagner at Berlin. In 1881 he was named professor of political economy at Siena, where he remained for ten years. In 1891 he moved to the University of Padua and in 1903 to the University of Turin, where he taught until his retirement in 1932. He was elected to the Accademia dei Lincei in 1901 and was appointed to the Senate in 1919.

Loria developed his theory from a wide range of predecessors—the English classical school, Marx, Darwin, the German historical school, and Luigi Cossa, a specialist in the history of economic theory. Loria was not, however, a simple eclectic, for he used borrowed ideas to formulate an original deterministic and mechanistic theory of economic development and social history. From an intensive and extensive reading on landholding in the British Museum in 1882, when land reform in Ireland and England was being very earnestly debated, he came to the conclusion that the key to the historical process is the relationship between the productivity of land and the density of population. Loria contended that the relative scarcity of land leads to the subjugation of some members of society by others. Different forms of subjugation produce stages in the historical process: slavery, feudalism, high capitalism, and late capitalism. Thus, social and political phenomena are determined at each stage by basic economic and demographic circumstances.

This fundamental concept was developed in a large number of books, many of which were translated into foreign languages. In these works an effort was made to substantiate the theoretical statement by presenting empirical evidence, especially that derived from the experience of colonial countries like America. Loria placed great emphasis upon the importance of free land in the history of the United States. Reviews and discussions of his work in the Political Science Quarterly of Columbia University introduced his work to many historians and political scientists. Clearly his views had an impact upon Frederick Jackson Turner in the formulation of histheory regarding the role of the frontier in American life and upon Charles A. Beard in his investigations of the place of economic interests in American political behavior (Benson 1950). The wide interest in the works of Turner and Beard has meant that Loria has had a considerable indirect influence on the interpretation of American history.

Shepard B. Clough

[See also the biographies of Beard; Turner.]


1880 La rendita fondiaria e la sua elisione naturale. Milan: Hoepli.

1882 La legge di popolazione ed il sistema sociale. Siena: Sordomuti.

1884 Carlo Darwin e I’economia politica. Milan: Dumolard.

(1886) 1904 The Economic Foundations of Society. London: Sonnenschein; New York: Scribner. → First published as La teoria economica della costituzione politica.

1889 Analisi della proprietd capitalista. 2 vols. Turin: Bocca.

(1890) 1891 Studi sul valore della moneta. Turin: Bocca.

1892 La terra ed il sistema sociale. Verona and Padua: Drucker.

(1894) 1911 Contemporary Social Problems. London: Sonnenschein; New York: Scribner. → First published in Italian.

1899 La costituzione economica odierna. Turin: Bocca.

1900 La sociologia, il suo compito, le sue scuole, i suoi recenti progressi. Conferenze tenute all’Università di Padova, gennaio-maggio, 1900. Verona and Padua: Drucker.

1901 II capitalismo e la scienza: Studi e polemiche. Turin: Bocca.

1902 Marx e la sua dottrina. Milan: Sandron.

1903 II movimento operaio: Origini, forme, sviluppo. Milan: Sandron.

(1904) 1915–1920 Verso la giustizia sociale (idee, battaglie ed apostoli). 2 vols. Milan: Società Editrice Libraria.

1905 La morphologic sociale. Confèrences tenues à 1’Universitè Nouvelle de Bruxelles au mois de mars 1905. Brussels: Larcier; Paris: Giard & Briere.

(1909) 1914 The Economic Synthesis: A Study of the Laws of Income. London: Allen & Unwin. → First published in Italian.

(1910) 1934 Corso di economia politica. 4th ed., rev. Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese.

(1912) 1918 The Economic Causes of War. Chicago: Kerr. → First published as Les bases é conomiques de la justice Internationale.

1921 Aspetti sociali ed economici della guerra mondiale. Milan: Vallardi.

1922 I fondamenti scientifici della riforma economica: Studio suite leggi della produzione. Turin: Bocca.

1926 Davide Ricardo. Rome: Formiggini.

1927 Ricordi di uno studente settuagenario. Bologna: Zanichelli.

1935 Dinamica economica: Studio sulle leggi delle variazioni. Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese.


Benson, lee (1950) 1960 Turner and Beard: American Historical Writing Reconsidered. Glencoe, 111.: Free Press. → See pages 2-40 on “Achille Loria’s Influence on American Economic Thought.”

Einaudi, Luigi 1932 Bibliografia di Achille Loria. Turin: La Riforma Sociale. → Published as a Supplement to Volume 43, no. 5 of La Riforma Sociale.

Einaudi, Luigi 1946 Achille Loria 1857–1943. Economic Journal 56:147–150.

Ricci, Umberto 1939 Tre economisti italiani: Pantaleoni, Pareto, Loria. Bari: Laterza.

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