Research

WWII and the Socioeconomic Rise of African Americans
This paper shows that the unprecedented socioeconomic rise of African Americans at mid-century is causally related to the labor shortages induced by WWII. Combining novel military and Census data in a difference-in-differences setting shows 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 has a significant reduced form effect on cross-state migration, wages, home ownership, and education for blacks. Using survey data from 1961, IV regression results indicate that the black skill upgrade, which is instrumented with the semi-skilled white casualty rate, is also associated with an increase in social status. Individuals living in areas with a casualty-induced skill-upgrade of blacks are more likely to have an interracial friendship, live in mixed-race neighborhoods, and have lower preferences for segregation.
Media coverage: EHS – The Long Run

Fatherless: The Long-Term Effects of Losing a Father in the U.S. Civil War (with Yannick Dupraz)
We use the demographic shock of the U.S. Civil War to study the consequences of losing a father during childhood on long-term child development outcomes, as well as inter-generational effects on the grandchildren of the deceased soldiers. We link data from the universe of Union Army soldiers to the full-count U.S. Census to identify fathers who fought in the war, before linking the 1860 Census to later Censuses, following the children and grandchildren of soldiers over time. We instrument a father’s death probability by the casualty rate of his military unit. We show that these casualty rates are mainly determined by military strategy and not related to the socioeconomic composition of units.