The strength of a society resides in its institutions

Bas van Bavel is Professor of Economic and Social History at the Faculty of Humanities. He is also programme director of the Institutions for Open Societies research theme. His research aims to explain the long-term development of societies, focussing  on specific reasons for the societal divergencies that gradually emerge in the process. He looks primarily at differences in the institutions that govern the exchange and allocation of land, labour and capital to explain differences in economic growth, the degree of equality and the extent to which societies can withstand shocks.

“Only by joining forces are we able to find the right answers”

Van Bavel uses history - especially northwestern European history - as if it were a research laboratory to tackle contemporary problems. He unites his knowledge with that of colleagues from other disciplines under the umbrella of ‘Institutions for Open Societies’. Scholars active in areas such as law, ethics, sociology, public administration and economics are working together to come up with solutions to the issues that confront us, both in society as a whole and at an individual level. “Only by joining forces are we able to find the right answers.”

Bas van Bavel won an ERC Advanced Grant in 2013.