Born in Cervia (Ravenna) on 7 September 1961, he graduated with honours in Economics and Business from the University of Modena in 1985. After a year spent as research officer at Prometeia, he continued his postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics until 1992, obtaining an M.Sc. in Economics in 1988. In June 1992 he joined the Bank of Italy's Economic Research Department. From 2007 to 2012 he was the head of the Economic Structure and Labour Market Division in the Department for Structural Economic Analysis. Since June 2015, he is the head of the Statistical Analysis Directorate.

He represented the Bank of Italy in the Poverty Commissions established by Italian governments (1994-2007) and in the Working Group on Minimum Income at the Minister of Labour and Social Policies (2013). He chaired the Commission on the absolute poverty methodology (2006-09) and was a member of the Scientific Committee on the Measurement of Well-Being established by Istat (2011-15). He is a member of the Committee for Directing and Coordinating Statistical Information (Comstat, 2016-2019) and of Istat's Scientific Committee (2017-20). He was the Italian representative in the Luxembourg Income Study, where he sat in the Executive Board (1997-2009) and directed with Timothy M. Smeeding the Luxembourg Wealth Study, a pilot project aimed at constructing a harmonised cross-national database of micro information on household wealth (2004-07). He was a member of the World Bank Commission on Global Poverty (2015-16). He is the chairperson of the Committee on Monetary, Financial and Balance of Payments Statistics (2019-20).

He chaired the council of the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW) and sat in the council of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ). He is a fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association (HDCA) and a policy fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He was associate editor of the Journal of Economic Inequality and a member of the editorial board of the Review of Income and Wealth; he is in the editorial boards the Italian Economic Journal and Politica economica-Journal of Economic Policy. He is a founder of the Italian demography website www.neodemos.it.

He published papers on poverty, the distribution of income and wealth, the measurement of well-being, labour economics, and the history of economic thought (for a partial list, see https://ideas.repec.org/e/pbr18.html). He co-edited, with S.P. Jenkins, J. Micklewright and B. Nolan, The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income (Oxford University Press, 2013). For his work on income inequality he was awarded the Aldi Hagennars LIS Memorial Award by the Luxembourg Income Study (1995) and the Luigi Tartufari International Prize by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (2017).