The Department of Economics and Statistics of the University of Torino is the heir of one of the most ancient and most prestigious Italian institutions for the study of economics: the Laboratorio di Economia Politica, funded at the beginning of the academic year 1893–94. It was promoted by Salvatore Cognetti de Martiis (1844 – 1901), Professor of Economics in the University of Torino since 1878, and the most distinguished Italian exponent of 19th century positivism in economics. The Laboratorio moulded several young students, among whom Luigi Albertini, Luigi Einaudi, Pasquale Iannaccone, Attilio Cabiati, all economists famous in Italy and abroad. After Cognetti’s departure, professor of constitutional law Gaetano Mosca became director of the Laboratorio di economia politica “S. Cognetti de Martiis” , to be later succeeded by Achille Loria (1857 – 1943), one of the most famous Italian economists between the two centuries. He was in charge for almost thirty years, from 1903 to 1932; since 1908, he was assisted by Luigi Einaudi (1874 – 1961). At the beginning of the 20th century, Einaudi became the leader of the so-called Turin school of economics, grown around the Laboratorio and the two economic journals, La Riforma Sociale and La Rivista di Storia Economica. The majority of alumni of the Laboratorio were students of Einaudi (among others, Carlo Rosselli and Piero Sraffa). In 1932 Pasquale Iannaccone (1872-1959) became Director of the Laboratorio, while Einaudi was deputy-director.
After World War II, the Laboratorio has counted among its members prestigious economists, such Siro Lombardini, Francesco Forte, Claudio Napoleoni and Franco Momigliano, thanks to whom it has gradually come to be regarded as an important center for economic research in Italy. In the context of the new university reform in 2012-13, the (now) Department of Economics and Statistics “Cognetti de Martiis” has become competent not only for research but also for teaching, and launched an educational project built on those historical-methodological principles that made famous the Laboratorio. Its broad perspective establishes an essential relationship between historical-empirical work and economic theory, and tends to emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary contributions. The ultimate goal of this educational project is to combine in a virtuous manner the various skills of the department with the needs of the labor market, in a national and international context.