Publications

Working Paper
Leander Heldring, James A. Robinson, and Sebastian Vollmer. Working Paper. “THE LONG-RUN IMPACT OF THE DISSOLUTION OF THE ENGLISH MONASTERIES”.Abstract
We examine the long-run economic impact of the Dissolution of the English monasteries in 1535, during the Reformation. Since monastic lands were previously not marketed and relatively unencumbered by inefficient types of customary tenures linked to feudalism, the Dissolution provides variation in the longevity of feudal institutions, which is plausibly linked to labor and social mobility, the productivity of agriculture and ultimately the location of the Industrial Revolution. We show that parishes impacted by the Dissolution subsequently experienced a ‘rise of the Gentry’, had higher innovation and yields in agriculture, a greater share of the population working outside of agriculture, and ultimately higher levels of industrialization. Where Catholics lingered, there was less development. Our results are consistent with explanations of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions which emphasize the commercialization of society as a key pre-condition for taking advantage of technological change and new economic opportunities.
robinson_et_al_monasteries.pdf
Eric M. Fell, Diana De Porcellinis, Yan Jing, Valeria Gutierrez-Venegas, Roy G. Gordon, Sergio Granados-Focil, and Michael J. Aziz. Working Paper. “Long-term stability of ferri-/ferrocyanide as an electroactive component for redox flow battery applications: On the origin of apparent capacity fade.” ChemRxiv. Publisher's Version long-term-stability-of-ferri-ferrocyanide-as-an-electroactive-component-for-redox-flow-battery-applications-on-the-origin-of-apparent-capacity-fade.pdf
Michael Neuder, Daniel J. Moroz, Rithvik Rao, and David C. Parkes. Working Paper. “Low-cost attacks on Ethereum 2.0 by sub-1/3 stakeholders.” CoRR abs/2102.02247.
Ronald Lee. Working Paper. “"Macroeconomics, Aging, and Growth”.Abstract

Inevitable population aging and slower population growth will affect the economies of all nations in ways influenced by cultural values, institutional arrangements, and economic incentives. One outcome will be a tendency toward increased capital intensity, higher wages, and lower returns on capital, a tendency partially offset when the elderly are supported by public or private transfers rather than assets, and when economies are open, in which case aging will lead to increased flows of capital and labor. Rising human capital investment per child accompanies the falling fertility that drives population aging, and partially offsets slower labor force growth. Research to date finds little effect on technological progress or labor productivity. National differences in labor supply at older ages, per capita consumption of the elderly relative to younger ages, strength of public pension and health care systems, and health and vitality of the elderly all condition the impact of population aging on the economy. Policy responses include increasing the size of the labor force, mainly by raising the retirement age; reducing benefits and/or raising taxes for public transfer programs for the elderly, with concern for dead-weight loss and the fair distribution of costs across socioeconomic classes; investing more in children to increase the quality and productivity of the future labor force; and public programs that promote fertility by facilitating market work for women with children.

lee2016.pdf
Guiseppe De Feo and Giacomo De Luca. Working Paper. “"Mafia in the ballot box"”.Abstract

We study the impact of organized crime on electoral competition. In a
theoretical model where parties compete for mafia support, we show that (i) the strongest party is willing to pay the highest price to secure mafia services; (ii) the volume of electoral trade with the mafia increases with political competition and with the efficiency of the mafia organization.

Guided by these theoretical predictions, we study in detail the parliamentary
elections in Sicily for the period 1946-1992. We document the significant support given by the Sicilian Mafia to the Christian Democratic party, starting at least from the 1970s. This is consistent with our theoretical predictions, as political competition became much tighter during the 1970s and the Sicilian mafia experienced an extensive centralization process started in 1969-70, which increased substantially its control of the territory. We also provide evidence that, in exchange for its electoral support, the Sicilian mafia got economic advantages for its activities in the construction industry.

defeodeluca2014.pdf
Ethan Ilzetzki and Saverio Simonelli. Working Paper. “"Measuring Productivity Dispersion: Lessons From Counting One-Hundred Million Ballots."”.Abstract
We measure output per worker in nearly 8,000 municipalities in the Italian electoral process using ballot counting times in the 2013 general election and two referenda in 2016. We document large productivity dispersion across provinces in this very uniform and low-skill task that involves nearly no technology and requires limited physical capital. Using a development accounting framework, this measure explains up to half of the firm-level productivity dispersion across Italian provinces and more than half the north-south productivity gap in Italy. We explore potential drivers of our measure of labor efficiency and find that its association with measures of work ethic and trust is particularly robust.
ilzetzkisimonelli2017.pdf
Sandra Sequeira, Nathan Nunn, and Nancy Qian. Working Paper. “"Migrants and the Making of America: The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Immigration during the Age of Mass Migration."”.Abstract

We study the effects of European immigration to the United States during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) on economic prosperity today. We exploit variation in the extent of immigration across counties arising from the interaction of fluctuations in aggregate immigrant flows and the gradual expansion of the railway network across the United States. We find that locations with more historical immigration today have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment. The long-run effects appear to arise from the persistence of sizeable short-run benefits, including greater industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and more innovation.

sequeiraetal2017.pdf
Vladimir Gimpelson and Daniel Treisman. Working Paper. “"Misperceiving Inequality"”.Abstract

Since Aristotle, a vast literature has suggested that economic inequality has important political consequences. Higher inequality is thought to increase demand for government income redistribution in democracies and to discourage democratization and promote class conflict and revolution in dictatorships. Most such arguments crucially assume that ordinary people know how high inequality is, how it has been changing, and where they fit in the income distribution. Using a variety of large, cross-national surveys, we show that, in recent years, ordinary people have had little idea about such things. What they think they know is often wrong. Widespread ignorance and misperceptions of inequality emerge robustly, regardless of the data source, operationalization, and method of measurement. Moreover, we show that the perceived level of inequality—and not the actual level—correlates strongly with demand for redistribution and reported conflict between rich and poor. We suggest that most theories about political effects of inequality need to be either abandoned or reframed as theories about the effects of perceived inequality.

gimpelsontreisman2015.pdf
Ben Weidmann and Luke Miratrix. Working Paper. “Missing, presumed different: Quantifying the risk of attrition bias in education evaluations.”.Abstract
We estimate the magnitude of attrition bias for 10 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) in education. We make use of a unique feature of administrative school data in England that allows us to analyse post-test academic outcomes for nearly all students, including those who originally dropped out of the RCTs we analyse. We find that the typical magnitude of attrition bias is 0.015o, with no estimate greater than 0.034o. This suggests that, in practice, the risk of attrition bias is limited. However, this risk should not be ignored as we find some evidence against the common ‘Missing At Random’ assumption. Attrition appears to be more problematic for treated units. We recommend that researchers incorporate uncertainty due to attrition bias, as well as performing sensitivity analyses based on the types of attrition mechanisms that are observed in practice.
weidmann_miratrix_missing_presumed_different.pdf
Gloria Gennaro, Giampaolo Lecce, and Massimo Morelli. Working Paper. “Mobilization and the Strategy of Populism Theory and Evidence from the United States”.Abstract
We propose a theory of strategic adoption of populism in electoral campaigns, in which a populist campaign attracts disillusioned voters but demobilizes core partisans. Under these conditions, populism is more tempting for outsider candidates in districts with low political trust or high economic insecurity, and where the race is close. We test the theory on the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 and 2020 House elections. We apply automated text analysis to campaign speeches and websites, and construct a continuous index of populism in campaign documents. We provide supportive evidence in favour of the mobilisation effects of populism, and show that outsider candidates, in competitive races, resort to more populism in response to higher economic insecurity. Drawing connections between theories of electoral mobilization and populism, this paper shows that the interaction of economic and political conditions is key to understand where politicians are more likely to ride on popular discontent.
gennaro_lecce_morelli_populism.pdf
Anthony Fowler, Seth Hill, Jeff Lewis, Chris Tausanovitch, Lynn Vavreck, and Christopher Warshaw. Working Paper. “Moderates”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Moderates are often forgotten in modern research on the purportedly polarized and hyperpartisan American voters. Some have pointed out that many Americans appear moderate, but others contend that these apparent moderates are actually politically unsophisticated or conflicted extremists. We develop a method to distinguish between genuine moderates, inattentive respondents, and people whose policy positions are not well summarized by a single liberal-conservative dimension. We find that most of the respondents who give a mix of liberal and conservative answers to policy questions are genuine spatial centrists though almost 30 percent of survey respondents express policy views better described as inattentive or unconstrained than by a single ideological dimension. Having identified different types of survey respondents, we investigate their political behaviors. Moderates and those who don’t map onto the single dimension participate less in politics than liberals and conservatives. Even so, they are especially consequential for electoral selection and accountability because they are most likely to change their vote choices in response to candidate quality and ideology. Our results suggest a need for renewed attention to the middle of the American political spectrum.

 

Andrew J. Coe. Working Paper. “"The Modern Economic Peace"”.Abstract

Extant theories of interstate con ict cannot convincingly explain the deep comity of the West, a central but historically bizarre fact of contemporary international politics. This is because most have little to say about dierences in con icts of interest between states. I develop a theory in which the economic con ict of interests between two states is determined by the consequences of a coerced transfer of wealth from one to the other. This transfer may induce costly distortions in the targeted economy, which may diuse to the coercing state's economy. If the coercing government internalizes these diused costs, its incentive to seek a transfer will be reduced. Nations with both representative polities and \modern" economies|which are sensitive to transfers and integrated|thus have less to ght over. An empirical estimate suggests the theorized reduction in incentives for transfers is plausibly large enough in the West to explain its unusual peacefulness.

coe2017.pdf
Leander Heldring, James A. Robinson, and Sebastian Vollmer. Working Paper. “"Monks, Gents, and Industrialists: The Long-Run Impact of the Dissolution of the English Monasteries"”.Abstract

We examine the long-run economic impact of the Dissolution of the English monasteries in 1535, which is plausibly linked to the commercialization of agriculture and the location of the Industrial Revolution. Using monastic income at the parish level as our explanatory variable, we show that parishes which the Dissolution impacted more had more textile mills and employed a greater share of population outside agriculture, had more gentry and agricultural patent holders, and were more likely to be enclosed. Our results extend Tawney’s famous ‘rise of the gentry’ thesis by linking social change to the Industrial
Revolution.

heldringetal2015.pdf
Gur Huberman, Jacob D. Leshno, and Ciamac C. Moallemi. Working Paper. “"Monopoly without a Monopolist: An Economic Analysis of the Bitcoin Payment System."”.Abstract

Owned by nobody and controlled by an almost immutable protocol, the Bitcoin payment system is a platform with two main constituencies: users and prot seeking miners who maintain the system's infrastructure. The paper seeks to understand the economics of the system: How does the system raise revenue to pay for its infrastructure? How are usage fees determined? How much infrastructure is deployed? What are the implications of changing parameters in the protocol? 

A simplied economic model that captures the system's properties answers these questions. Transaction fees and infrastructure level are determined in an equilibrium of a congestion queueing game derived from the system's limited throughput. The system eliminates dead-weight loss from monopoly, but introduces other inefficiencies and requires congestion to raise revenue and fund infrastructure. We explore the future potential of such systems and provide design suggestions.

hubermanetal2017.pdf
Lucia Del Carpio and Maria Guadalupe. Working Paper. “More Women in Tech ? Evidence from a field experiment addressing social identity”.
Lucia Del Carpio and Maria Guadalupe. Working Paper. “More Women in Tech? Evidence from a field experiment addressing social identity”.
Robert J. Shiller. Working Paper. “"Narrative Economics"”.Abstract

This address considers the epidemiology of narratives relevant to economic fluctuations. The human brain has always been highly tuned towards narratives, whether factual or not, to justify ongoing actions, even such basic actions as spending and investing. Stories motivate and connect activities to deeply felt values and needs. Narratives “go viral” and spread far, even worldwide, with economic impact. The 1920-21 Depression, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the so-called “Great Recession” of 2007-9 and the contentious politicaleconomic situation of today, are considered as the results of the popular narratives of their respective times. Though these narratives are deeply human phenomena that are difficult to study in a scientific manner, quantitative analysis may help us gain a better understanding of these epidemics in the future.

 

To listen to Shiller's AEA address, see here: https://www.aeaweb.org/webcasts/2017/address.php

aer.107.4.967.pdf
Samuel A Mehr, Manvir Singh, Dean Knox, Daniel Ketter, Daniel Pickens-Jones, Stephanie Atwood, Christopher Lucas, Alena Egner, Nori Jacoby, Erin J Hopkins, Rhea M Howard, Timothy J O'Donnell, Steven Pinker, Max M Krasnow, and Luke Glowacki. Working Paper. “A Natural History of Song”.
Jan David Bakker, Stephan Maurer, Jorn-Steffen Pischke, and Ferdinand Rauch. Working Paper. “Of Mice and Merchants: Trade and Growth in the Iron Age”.Abstract
We study the causal connection between trade and development using one of the earliest massive trade expansions: the first systematic crossing of open seas in the Mediterranean during the time of the Phoenicians. We construct a measure of connectedness along the shores of the sea. This connectivity varies with the shape of the coast, the location of islands, and the distance to the opposing shore. We relate connectedness to local growth, which we measure using the presence of archaeological sites in an area. We find an association between better connected locations and archaeological sites during the Iron Age, at a time when sailors began to cross open water very routinely and on a big scale. We corroborate these findings at the level of the world.
bakkeretal2018.pdf
Alberto Alesina, Ugo Troiano, and Traviss Cassidy. Working Paper. “"Old and Young Politicians"”.Abstract

We evaluate the effect of a politician's age on political governance, reelection rates, and policies using data on Italian local governments. Our results suggest that younger politicians are more likely to behave strategically in response to election incentives: they increase spending and obtain more transfers from higher levels of government in preelection years. We argue that is a sign of stronger career concerns incentives. The results are robust to adopting three different identification strategies: fixed-effects regression, standard regression discontinuity design, and an augmented regression dis-continuity design that controls for residual heterogeneity.

alesinaetal2015.pdf

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