Alberto Alesina

Alberto Francesco Alesina was an Italian political economist. According to Lawrence Summers, he was one of the leading political economists of his generation, publishing much-cited books and articles in major economics and political science journals.

Background and professional life

Alesina was born in Broni, Pavia, Italy. Alesina obtained his undergraduate degree in economics from Bocconi University.
From 2003–2006, Alesina served as Chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard. He was the Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economy at Harvard. He visited several institutions including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, University of Stockholm, The World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. In 2006, Alesina participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project.
He published five books and edited many more. His two most recent books were The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline, and Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe: A World of Difference. He was a co-editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics for eight years and associate editor of many academic journals. He published columns in many leading newspapers around the world. He was a founding contributor of the online economic policy and research journal and of
Alesina's work covered a variety of topics, including:
Alesina was a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, and the Econometric Society. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.


On 23 May 2020, Alesina was hiking in the morning with his wife Susan. During their return, Alesina suffered a heart attack and died on the spot at the age of 63.


Alesina was an influential proponent of austerity during the Great Recession. He argued that austerity can be expansionary in situations where government reduction in spending is offset by greater increases in aggregate demand.
In October 2009 Alesina and Silvia Ardagna published "Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending", a much-cited academic paper aimed at showing that fiscal austerity measures did not hurt economies, and actually helped their recovery. On June 6, 2013 U.S. economist and 2008 Nobel laureate Paul Krugman published "How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled" in The New York Review of Books, noting how influential these articles have been with policymakers, describing the paper by the 'Bocconi Boys' Alesina and Ardagna as "a full frontal assault on the Keynesian proposition that cutting spending in a weak economy produces further weakness", arguing the reverse.

Selected publications