Marcella Corsi and Giulio Guarini
Economic Growth and Institutions in Sylos Labini's Thought

Abstract: According to Paolo Sylos Labini, it is vital for an economist to be acutely conscious of the responsibility to study society for the sake of promoting progress, the economic, social and civil progress of society and not one's own personal interest. Sylos Labini's engagement in politics thus appears to grow naturally out of his understanding of the work of the economist. And while his political statements certainly intensified in the last years of his life, they had been a frequent and important feature of his writing throughout previous decades. In his last book "Ahi serva Italia" (2006) Sylos Labini spoke as a civic-minded economist to all those Italians who refuse to understand that respect for the rules is an absolute requirement of a market economy, and, in particular, that a market economy needs rules to defend the community against the unbridled expansion of positions of power (as Adam Smith had explained, referring to the East India Company). Moreover, Sylos Labini argued, capitalism cannot function without a widespread moral sentiment which condemns the breach of rules. Within this analytical framework, our paper aims to discuss the role of institutions along different lines: the role of the market in the process of economic growth, the public intervention in the economy and the process of institutional innovations.

JEL: A13, B31, O11.
Keywords: economic growth, institutions.



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