Working Papers

World War II and African American Socioeconomic Progress
[CAGE Warwick working paper no. 387 here.]


This paper argues that the unprecedented socioeconomic rise of African Americans at mid-century was causally related to the labor shortages induced by WWII. Combining novel military and Census data in a difference-in-differences setting, results show that counties with an average casualty rate among semi-skilled whites experienced a 13 to 16% increase in the share of blacks in semi-skilled jobs. The casualty rate also positively relates to wages, home ownership, house values, and education for blacks. Using Southern survey data, IV regression results indicate that individuals in affected counties had more interracial friendships and reduced preferences for segregation in 1961. This is an example for how better labor market opportunities can improve both economic and social outcomes of a disadvantaged minority group.

Media coverage: EHS – The Long Run, Marginal Revolution

Fatherless: The Long-Term Effects of Losing a Father in the U.S. Civil War (with Yannick Dupraz)


We estimate the causal effect of losing a father in the U.S. Civil War on children’s long-run socioeconomic outcomes. Linking military records from the 2.2 million Union Army soldiers with the 1860 U.S. population Census, we track soldiers’ sons into adulthood. Sons of soldiers who died had a lower a occupational income score in 1880 and were less likely to have a high- or semi-skilled job as opposed to being low-skilled or farmers. Our results are robust to instrumenting paternal death with the mortality rate of the father’s regiment. Effects are largely driven by the increased downward mobility of the sons of semi-skilled fathers, who were more likely to become low-skilled as a result of paternal death. Pre-war family wealth is a strong mitigating factor: there is no effect of losing a father in the top quartile of the wealth distribution.

Media coverage: CAGE granted access to US Census Data

Wars, Local Political Institutions, and Fiscal Capacity: Evidence from Six Centuries of German History (with Sascha O. Becker, Eric Melander, and Luigi Pascali)
[CAGE Warwick working paper no. 395 here.]


We study the effect of warfare on the development of state capacity and representative institutions using novel data on cities and territories in the German lands between 1200 and 1750. More specifically, we show that cities with a higher conflict exposure establish more sophisticated tax systems, but also develop larger councils, councils that are more likely to be elected by citizens, and more likely to be independent of other local institutions. These results are consistent with the idea of a trade-off between more efficient taxation and power sharing proposed in earlier work. We make headway on establishing a causal role of wars by using changes to German nobles’ positions within the European nobility network to instrument for conflict.

ivmediate: Causal mediation analysis in instrumental variables regressions (with Christian Dippel and Stephan Heblich)
[Stata ado and help files, and example data available here (new version, Dec 2019).]


In this article, we describe the use of ivmediate, a new command to estimate causal mediation effects in instrumental variables (IV) settings using the framework developed by Pinto et al. (2019). ivmediate allows to estimate a treatment effect and the share of this effect that can be attributed to a mediator variable. While both treatment and mediator can be potentially endogenous, a single instrument suffices to identify both the causal treatment and mediation effects.

Work in Progress

Group Cohesion Under Stress: An Event-Study Analysis of Desertions in the Civil War (with Christian Dippel)

WWI Anti-German Sentiment and Economic Growth in U.S. Counties (with Price Fishback)


Consequences of Forced Migration: A Survey of Recent Findings, 2019, Labour Economics, Vol. 59, pp. 1-16 (with Sascha O. Becker)
[Supplementary material available here.]

Voluntary Programs to Encourage Diffusion: The Case of the Combined Heat-and-Power Partnership, 2014, The Energy Journal, Vol. 35(1), pp. 161-173 (with Ian Lange)*

* Pre-Ph.D. publication