ICES - Institutional Change, Economics, Society


The mission of ICES is to promote independent scientific research excellence in economics and politics with a special focus on how phenomena, institutions, and culture evolve over time, in a long-term perspective, and on policy relevant issues.

Institutional Change, Economics and Society (ICES) is an interdisciplinary research unit composed of economists that focuses on the political economy of institutions, fiscal policy and state formation and the implications that social conflicts have on development and economic growth. In particular, ICES aims at improving our understanding of the dynamic interactions between economic, political and cultural variables, to provide answers to a wide variety of issues.
For example, ICES research agenda includes the analysis of how political institutions shape economic outcomes (such as fiscal policy, taxation, social security system, unemployment), and study of the channels through which economic fundamentals and policies affect the choice and quality of political institutions. Different dimensions of culture (political, economic, legal, etc.) are likely to shape these relationships and are an important part of the research agenda of the unit. ICES organizes weekly seminars and conferences with members of the international academic and scientific community to provide a stimulating research environment. The collaborative atmosphere in the unit permits the integration of distinct research approaches and diverse research concerns. The research pursued in the unit pays attention to contributing to policy relevant issues and the dissemination of the results outside the academic and scientific community is also promoted.
In particular, ICES organizes events where IMT faculty, policymakers, business leaders, and scholars from around the world meet and discuss public policy issues such as fiscal policy, institutional reforms, strategies for growth and development and other relevant economic and political issues.

Our research group is closely related to the :


Visiting Professors and Collaborators from other institutions:

Research Topics

ICES integrates a unique set of competences in different areas of social sciences, e.g., political economists, political scientists, political historians, and quantitative social scientists. The research unit focuses on different research lines.

Political institutions, culture and economic growth
There is a long-standing debate in political science and political history on how political culture affects the choice of political institutions, their stability and legitimacy. The issue of how specific features or dimensions of culture, such as trust or religion, affect economic outcomes and political institutions has received increasing attention also in the economics literature in recent years, especially for the implications thereof on economic growth. The research unit investigates these issues using different perspectives of analysis and research tools that characterizes the different areas (economics, politics and history) of the unit.

Transitions across regimes, consolidation and quality of democracy, and socio-economic outcomes
A research line very close to and interconnected with the previous one concerns the analysis of the determinants of the processes of transition across political regimes, and of the consolidation and quality of democracy. This part of the research project aims at understanding various phenomena related to processes of democratization such as, for example, the recent collapse of many autocratic regimes and the implications of this for the advanced Western societies.

The comparative political economy of state formation
Another research line of the unit focuses on the degree of (de)centralization of the states. In particular, it aims at understanding the reasons leading some newly-born states to adopt federal institutions (e.g., Germany) or to develop a centralized state apparatus (e.g., Italy), and the consequences of this choice for the development of the whole institutional system.

Advanced statistical techniques and political economy
ICES members also benefit from interaction with the research unit AXES at IMT for the study of complex phenomena. The analysis of these phenomena requires the use of advanced statistical and software techniques that complement the standard political economy tools. The study of tax systems, welfare states and public expenditure components in European countries are other examples in the research agenda of ICES where the application of advanced statistical methods are important and an interdisciplinary approach is pursued.


The spirit of ICES is to produce first-class research recognized by the national and international research community. The members of the unit are also expected to disseminate the results of their research outside the academy, in particular among the policy makers and, more generally, in the world of (political, financial, administrative) institutions. ICES also aims to play a role in the public debate on the issues of interest to the unit, such as the organization of the state, the reform of political institutions (especially European institutions), the crisis and evolution of established democracies and the birth of new democracies, the new models and role of the welfare states, the relationships between state and markets and the relationships between advanced and emerging economies.


Members of ICES have collaborations with established and acknowledged national and international research centers, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Princeton University; University of California at Berkeley; Toulouse School of Economics; Paris School of Economics; European University Institute; Libera Universitè Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli di Roma; University of Bologna; and University of Modena.

Projects and Funding

On going
EXODUS - Emigration of High-Skilled Individuals due to Short-Term Contracts - ICES
Istituzioni, dinamiche sociali e sviluppo economico (PRIN 2009) - ICES

Seminars and Conferences

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Job Positions

There is currently no open faculty position but we are continuosly scouting for smart people to be involved in our research projects or in our Ph.D. Program. Do not hesitate to contact us to express your interest.
More info is available from the Faculty Job Opportunities section of IMT website.