Access the Online Archive
Search the Historical Archive of the Pirelli Foundation for sources and materials. Select the type of support you are interested in and write the keywords of your research.
  • Documents
  • Photographs
  • Drawings and posters
  • Audio-visuals
  • Publications and magazines
  • All
Help with your research
To request to view the materials in the Historical Archive and in the libraries of the Pirelli Foundation for study and research purposes and/or to find out how to request the use of materials for loans and exhibitions, please fill in the form below. You will receive an email confirming receipt of the request and you will be contacted.

I declare that I have read and understood the privacy statement concerning the processing of my personal data[DTJI1] ,  and, pursuant to Art. 6 of the GDPR, I authorise the Pirelli Foundation to process my personal data for the purposes described therein. .

Fields marked with * are mandatory
Pirelli Foundation Educational Courses

Select the education level of the school
  • Primary schools

  • Lower secondary school

  • Upper secondary school

  • University

Back
Primary schools
Pirelli Foundation Educational Courses
Please fill in your details and the staff of Pirelli Foundation Educational will contact you to arrange the dates of the course.

I declare that I have read and understood the privacy statement concerning the processing of my personal data[DTJI1] ,  and, pursuant to Art. 6 of the GDPR, I authorise the Pirelli Foundation to process my personal data for the purposes described therein. .

Fields marked with * are mandatory
Back
Lower secondary school
Pirelli Foundation Educational Courses
Please fill in your details and the staff of Pirelli Foundation Educational will contact you to arrange the dates of the course.

I declare that I have read and understood the privacy statement concerning the processing of my personal data[DTJI1] ,  and, pursuant to Art. 6 of the GDPR, I authorise the Pirelli Foundation to process my personal data for the purposes described therein. .

Fields marked with * are mandatory
Back
Upper secondary school
Pirelli Foundation Educational Courses
Please fill in your details and the staff of Pirelli Foundation Educational will contact you to arrange the dates of the course.

I declare that I have read and understood the privacy statement concerning the processing of my personal data[DTJI1] ,  and, pursuant to Art. 6 of the GDPR, I authorise the Pirelli Foundation to process my personal data for the purposes described therein. .

Fields marked with * are mandatory
Back
University
Pirelli Foundation Educational Courses

Do you want to organize a training programme with your students? For information and reservations, write to universita@fondazionepirelli.org

Visit the Foundation
For information on the Foundation's activities and admission to the spaces,
please call +39 0264423971 or write to visite@fondazionepirelli.org

I declare that I have read and understood the privacy statement concerning the processing of my personal data[DTJI1] ,  and, pursuant to Art. 6 of the GDPR, I authorise the Pirelli Foundation to process my personal data for the purposes described therein. .

Fields marked with * are mandatory

Becker’s lesson: discrimination is unjust and it doesn’t pay

Discrimination of any kind, whether on the grounds of race, gender, religion or nationality, is unjust. It violates the person’s fundamental human rights. But it is also economically irrational. Non-discrimination and recognition of the value of diversity not only benefits society, but also the economy. Greater integration increases competitiveness. This is the message of Gary S. Becker, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1992, “for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behaviour and interaction, including nonmarket behaviour”. Becker was the first to try and really analyze and explain the value of human capital.

We would do well to remember Becker, who died recently (3 May 2014) at a time when Europe— following elections to the new European Parliament—the USA and other major democratic, advanced economies are looking around for radical new ideas and rules to put the crisis behind us and achieve lasting economic growth based on a more balanced, environmentally sustainable society that can generate widespread wellbeing, jobs and prosperity.

In other works, better development. How is this to be done? Partly by building a “generous society” (the title of a fine book by Pier Mario Vello and Martina Reolon for Feltrinelli-Life, on an economy focused on “living together”, and a form of benevolent competition that is faithful to the Latin root cum petere – to strive together). A society based on inclusiveness and not on discrimination, and a virtuous relationship between identity and difference. As Luigi Ruggio and Francesco Mora point out in Identità, differenze, conflitti, Mimesis, 2007: “The relationship between identity and difference is absolutely central to the life of peoples and individuals… Without identity there can be no community, but without difference, identity is hollow.”

Which this bring us back to the lesson of Becker. A liberal scholar mindful of the moral philosophy of Adam Smith (“mutual sympathy”) and the teachings of John Maynard Keynes, Becker explored the connections between enterprise, work, rights and economic growth, recognizing Smith’s “utility” as indispensable to the workings of the market economy, combined with a profoundly moral view of a more just society.

Becker’s early Ph.D. thesis examined discrimination as a cost to the perpetrator (Luigi Zingales in IlSole24Ore – 6 May). This was a highly original and provocative point of view. We are all aware of the burden of discrimination on the victim (little or no work, low wages, bad working conditions, poor career prospects). But Becker was interested in trying to explain to those whose lives, work and investments are guided by the pursuit of profit, that discrimination doesn’t pay. On the contrary, discrimination prevents firms from hiring the best resources, stifles human capital, and hinders competitiveness. If firms which discriminate suffer no cost, adds Becker, there is no economic limit to discrimination. But this only happens in an absence of competition. Instead the market (open and well regulated, of course, not a monopoly or an oligopoly or economies with a high degree of protectionism) is competitive. And the most successful are those companies which do not discriminate (e.g. against blacks, women, etc.) but choose and develop the best. Firms which discriminate, in a market economy, fail to act in their own best interests.

Of course Becker’s insight is backed up with scientific evidence and data, hence the Nobel Prize. And experience and later studies have shown that the opening up of the U.S. banking industry to competition has increased the quota of women in top jobs, with salaries closer to those of men, to the benefit of all. “If discrimination against women is still so widespread in Italy, it is because our markets are uncompetitive,” argues Zingales, echoing Becker’s moral and economic teachings.

We should bear this in mind in Europe and in Italy, where the presence of women in influential positions in business and politics is on the rise but has not yet reached an equitable level. This above all at a time when we still haven’t solved the serious questions of integration and discrimination, evidenced by the sporadic winds of xenophobia that still blow through Europe. Discrimination is unjust. What’s more it doesn’t pay. Development can only be achieved in an open, inclusive society that is able to adopt intelligent and farsighted laws to this end. Firms across the world who pursue dialogue and a healthy integration of diversity are more successful and can lead the way for others. Becker’s teachings are just as relevant today.