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Esposito, Elena

Assistant Professor

University of Lausanne, Switzerland



Max Weber alumnus

Department of Economics

Cohort(s): 2014/2015, 2015/2016

Ph.D. Institution

University of Bologna, Italy


I am an empirical economist with research interests in the fields of development economics, economic growth and economic history. I obtained my PhD in economics from the University of Bologna in June 2014 and I am currently a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute.
The overarching goal of my research is to study how the interplay between large historical processes and the geography of countries led to the emergence of key historical institutions, and to investigate how – i.e. through which channels – these institutions are still affecting contemporary economic development. Within this perspective, I have been investigating topics such as the diffusion of African slavery in the American South; the emergence and persistence of ethnolinguistic diversity in Africa; and the long-term resource curse brought about by nineteenth-century coal extraction.
Most of my papers have an empirical content, and all share the common attempt to establish causal relationships by devising innovative empirical frameworks. To this end, I place specific emphasis on the implementation of extensive data-collection exercises. In particular, I specialized in the collection and management of large data sets produced through: i) web data extraction techniques, ii) geographic information systems (GIS) processing tools and iii) historical data collections from primary and secondary sources. Because of this expertise, I have designed and taught several courses on the processing of Big Data, especially spatial data, directed towards applied economists.
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