Bas van Bavel, Professor of Economic and Social History
"The deeper causes of prosperity"
Why are some countries rich and others poor? This question has fascinated Bas van Bavel since he studied history in Utrecht. It is still the leading theme of his research activities as Professor of Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages. He is one of the driving forces behind the Utrecht Origins and Impacts of Institutions research focus area.
“Western European prosperity is not only a result of free markets, as is often assumed. In my acceptance address in 2008 I showed the underlying causes: social organisations and the way they compensate for the workings of a free market system, are equally important for sustainability and the welfare of modern society.”
Research focus area
“How are the benefits of prosperity divided? Which institutions and organisations stimulate economic growth, which promote social coherence and which facilitate problem solution? The ‘Development and Impact of Institutes’ research focus area is concerned with the rules of the game. Researchers of three faculties jointly examine these issues of growth and distribution.”
“Collaborate research has discovered many new facts. Utrecht University delivers good work, radiates ambition and allocates extra resources to successful research groups. All this brings in additional indirect funding. At Utrecht University, we carry out our work in a friendly atmosphere. There is, however, one aspect which could be improved: it would be great if the researchers in our focus area were given more room for sharing ideas.”