Selin Dilli is a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University. She studied Sociology (BSc) at Middle East Technical University, Turkey (2009, Summa Cum Laude). She then obtained a MSc in Sociology and Social Research and a PhD in Economic and Social History from Utrecht University. Her dissertation examined the historical relationship between family systems, gender equality and development in the world economy, c.1850 and 2000. Her main research interests focus on the evolution of formal and informal institutions, gender inequality and their long term link with political and socio-economic development outcomes of societies. In her research, she uses quantitative methods to analyse large datasets and incorporates insights from different social sciences such as sociology, history, economics and political science. 

In relation to the FIRES project, she works on the historical evolution of labour, knowledge and financial institutions in Europe during the twentieth century and their long term link with (female) entrepreneurial activity. 

Strategic themes / Focus areas
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All publications
  2018 - Scholarly publications
Diebolt, Claude, Rijpma, A., Carmichael, S.G., Dilli, S.D. & Stormer, Charlotte (2018). Cliometrics of the Family. Springer.
Dilli, S.D., Rijpma, A. & Carmichael, S.G. (2018). Gender Equality in Historical Perspective: Introducing the Historical Gender Equality Index. Feminist Economics
Dilli, S.D. & Westerhuis, G.K. (2018). How Institutions and Gender Differences in Education Shape Entrepreneurial Activity: A Cross-national Perspective. Small Business Economics
Dilli, Selin, Elert, Niklas & Herrmann, Andrea M. (29.03.2018). Varieties of entrepreneurship - exploring the institutional foundations of different entrepreneurship types through ‘Varieties-of-Capitalism’ arguments. Small Business Economics, (pp. 1-28) (28 p.).
Dilli, S.D., Elert, Niklas & Herrmann, A.M. (2018). Varieties of Entrepreneurship: Exploring Institutional Foundations of Different Entrepreneurship Types through Varieties of Capitalism Arguments. Small Business Economics
  2017 - Scholarly publications
van der Vleuten, L., Carmichael, S.G. & Dilli, S.D. (2017). Chapter 5. The best thermometer: - A Long run perspective on Indian gender inequality in British ruled states. Agency, Gender and Economic Development in the World Economy 1850–2000 - Testing the Sen Hypothesis (pp. 101-137) (37 p.). Routledge.
Dilli, S.D. (2017). The Deep Causes of Economic Development - Family Systems and Female Agency. In Jan Luiten van Zanden, Auke Rijpma & Jan Kok (Eds.), Agency, Gender and Economic Development in the World Economy 1850-2000 - testing the Sen Hypothesis (pp. 138-161) (24 p.). London: Routledge.
  2016 - Scholarly publications
Carmichael, S.G., Dilli, S.D. & van Zanden, J.L. (2016). Introduction: Family Systems and Economic Development. Economic History of Developing Regions, 31 (1), (pp. 1-9) (9 p.).
Carmichael, Sarah, Dilli, Selin & Rijpma, Auke (2016). Women in Global Economic History. In Joerg Baten (Eds.), A History of the Global Economy - From 1500 to the Present (pp. 240-247). Cambridge: University Press.
  2015 - Scholarly publications
  2014 - Scholarly publications
Dilli, S., Rijpma, A. & Carmichael, S. G. (2014). Achieving gender equality: development versus historical legacies. CESifo Economic Studies (34 p.).
Carmichael, Sarah, Dilli, Selin & Rijpma, Auke (02.10.2014). Gender Inequality since 1820. In Auke Rijpma, Jan Luiten van Zanden, Marcel Timmer, Joerg Baten, Marco Mira d'Ercole & Conal Smith (Eds.), How Was Life? Global Well-being since 1820 (pp. 217-248). OECD Publishing.
Coffe, H. & Dilli, S. (12.05.2014). The gender gap in political participation in Muslim-majority countries. International Political Science Review (19 p.).
  2014 - Other output
Dilli, S.D. (2014). A Longitudinal Exploration of the Link between Gender Equality and Democracy in the World during the 20th century.
Dilli, S.D. (2014). The Deep Causes of Economic Development: Family Systems and Female Agency.
  2013 - Other output
Carmichael, S.G., Rijpma, A. & Dilli, S.D. (30.09.2013). Development Versus Legacy: The Relative Role of Development and Historical Legacies in Achieving Gender Equality. CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4411.
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Completed projects

Project FIRES 01.06.2015 to 31.05.2018
General project description

In relation to the Financial and Institutional Reforms to build an Entrepreneurial Society in Europe (FIRES)  project, I work on the historical evolution of labour, knowledge and financial institutions in Europe during the twentieth century and their long term link with (female) entrepreneurship. Please refer to for information on the research project. It is a EU-funded Horizon 2020 project.

Role Researcher Funding
EU grant
Project members UU
Agency, Gender, and Economic Development in the World Economy 1850-2000 01.10.2011 to 01.10.2015
General project description

Does economic development contribute to and result in more ‘agency’, the power of individuals to decide for themselves? And is the reverse also true? Can we find a link between historical developments (e.g. the advent of literacy) and institutions (laws, family forms, political systems) which promoted agency and the actual economic developments in the various countries of the world? These questions are central in this research project.

Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen (1999) already argued that the ‘freedom’ to realize one’s potential is a major determinant and contributing factor of economic development. A crucial factor in this respect is ‘human capital formation’: education will increase the agency of people - enhance their possibilities to shape their own lives – and is at the same time an essential ingredient of economic development. We aim to study these interrelationships in depth, with a specific focus on gender. Given the crucial role of women in socialization (producing human capital of the new generation), we will look closely at (institutions creating) gender differences in agency.

Thus, we study the interaction between agency and economic development at two, interrelated levels: at the micro level of household and family formation (are men and women allowed and able to make their own choices in this respect, or are – for example – marriages arranged?) and at the macrolevel of the state (are people allowed and able to be involved in the political decision making process?). We have developed innovative ways to measure these variables on a global scale. This will allow us to contribute significantly to the important debates among social scientist and historians about these links. Moreover, we think that adding the dimension of gender will deepen the analysis of these relationships.

Role PhD Candidate
Individual project description

Based on empirical evidence, the first part of the dissertation examined the global progress that has been made towards gender equality in the last one and a half century, and the long term institutional and socio-economic causes behind this process. The second part studies the consequences of historical family institutions that discriminate against women for the democratic and economic development of societies. The dissertation is available at:
For more information on the project, please refer to:

NWO grant
Project members UU
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Currently dr. Selin Dilli teaches the following course(s):
GKRMV18004 Ges-Quantitative Methods for History V M 5.0
GKMV17016 Ges-Thema's GPM V M 5.0
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Full name
dr. S.D. Dilli Contact details
Drift 6

Drift 6
Room 1.15
The Netherlands

Drift 6

Drift 6
The Netherlands

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Last updated 07.08.2018