Hej Iacopo, can you tell us a bit about your background, where you studied or worked before, and what made you choose the field of economics?

- Glad to do that! I grew up in a small town in Friuli Venezia Giulia, the easternmost part of Italy. After spending my childhood there, I moved to Milan to study at Bocconi University where I completed my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Economics. I chose the field of economics almost by chance, but I never regretted my decision. At Bocconi I got interested in Development economics and thus, after graduating, I went to Uganda to do an internship at BRAC. I immediately loved the feeling of conducting research while immersed in the same context I was studying. Later, I worked at the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab in Uganda to then start a consultancy at the Center For Global Development in Tanzania on a project fostering small female business’ growth, which I am now a co-PI on. 

Iacopo Bianchi

What research have you done in the past and/or what are your research interests going forward?

- One theme I am particularly passionate about concerns tackling constraints to firms’ expansion, with a special focus on gender. A second branch of my research looks at how technology diffusion (i) shapes social interactions of minorities, and (ii) promotes profitability of firms. Finally, a third branch of my research investigates the historical roots of current attitudes toward the LGBTQ community in Africa, and how they were molded by different colonial powers. In future work, I would love to understand better how social networks shape labor and information markets. Networks are of utmost importance in countries where markets tend to be incomplete and formal institutions play only a marginal role. 

How come you chose to come to the IIES?

- Before applying, I had the chance to interact with several faculty members and graduate students at the IIES. I always appreciated the informality of these exchanges and the opportunity to chat freely about any topic (research-related and not). Moreover, given my interest in Development economics, the IIES seemed a natural place to apply to, since many professors are doing research in this field. Of the IIES, I also appreciate the opportunity to have informal gatherings such as the “Development tea” or the “Applied micro lunch”, which are perfect occasions to present early stage ideas and get valuable feedback. For all these reasons, I’m really looking forward to starting the new academic year at IIES!

And we are very much looking forward to welcoming you in the fall, Iacopo!