Working Papers

World War II and African American Socioeconomic Progress (job market paper, most recent version, submitted)
[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 use the U.S. Civil War, in which more than 650,000 soldiers perished, as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of losing a father on children’s long-run socioeconomic outcomes. We link military records from the 2.2 million Union Army soldiers with the 1860 U.S. population Census and then track their sons into adulthood by linking them to the 1880 Census. Compared to the sons of soldiers who returned, sons of soldiers who died had a lower occupational score in 1880 and were less likely to have a high- or a semi-skilled occupation. Our results are robust to instrumenting paternal death by participation in one of the top 10 bloodiest battles of the war. We show how record linkage errors can attenuate OLS and inflate IV estimates. We also provide evidence that income is an important channel and that wealth is a mitigating factor. The negative effects are persistent and even affect the generation of the grandchildren observed in 1900.

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.

Consequences of Forced Migration: Recent Findings (with Sascha O. Becker, Conditionally Accepted at Labour Economics)
[Supplementary material available here.]


Forced migration as a consequence of wars, civil conflicts, or natural disasters may have consequences different from those of voluntary migration. Recent work has highlighted the consequences of forced migration on host populations, on migrants themselves and on populations at origin. We document findings from recent work, on education and other economic outcomes, but also on political outcomes. We summarize key lessons and point to gaps in the literature.

Work in Progress

Leadership under Duress: Evidence from Officers and their Soldiers in the Civil War (with Christian Dippel)

The Effects of WWI Anti-German Sentiment on Long-Run Growth in U.S. Counties (with Price Fishback)