I am post-doctoral researcher at the Humboldt University Berlin. My research interests lie in the fields of economic history and political economy. In my work, I investigate nation-building policies, the drivers of inequality, the consequences of globalization, and the rise of the political left, often with a focus on 19th century Germany. My dissertation "The Political Economy of Social Identity in 19th Century Germany" was awarded the Gino Luzzatto Prize by the European Historical Economics Society for the best dissertation in economic history submitted between July 2019 and June 2021. A recent version of CV can be found here.
Weber Revisited: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Nationalism, with Iris Wohnsiedler and Nikolaus Wolf. Journal of Economic History, 80(3), 710-745, 2020.
Abstract: We revisit Max Weber's hypothesis on the role of Protestantism for economic development. We show that nationalism is crucial to both, the interpretation of Weber’s Protestant Ethic and empirical tests thereof. For late nineteenth-century century Prussia we reject Weber’s suggestion that Protestantism mattered due to an “ascetic compulsion to save”. Moreover, we find that income levels, savings, and literacy rates differed between Germans and Poles, not between Protestants and Catholics, using pooled OLS and IV regressions. We suggest that this result is due to anti-Polish discrimination.
Welfare Reform and Repression in an Autocracy: Bismarck and the Socialists.
Abstract: This paper studies the effect of a welfare reform, a repressive law and its interaction on the vote share for the opposition in an autocratic country in times of social unrest. I examine Bismarck’s policies of introducing social insurance and the anti-socialist law in late 19th century Germany. The socialist party, I find, increases its vote share in constituencies more affected by Bismarck’s policies. For identification, I exploit local and industry-specific variation in treatment intensity due to ex-ante existing local healthcare and detailed lists on forbidden socialist organizations. This variation allows me to use a dynamic difference-in-differences as well as a shift-share approach. As mechanisms, I highlight that the socialist party evaded the repression and dominated the narrative about the social reform. My results suggest that dominating the narrative is a crucial complementarity for the political success of social reforms.
Abstract: This paper studies the development of inequality within Prussian districts in the German Empire between 1871 and 1914. We provide and describe new panel data on income inequality, capital share, firm size, and voting outcomes. We then use these data to re-evaluate the famous "Revisionism Debate" between Orthodox Marxists and their critics before 1914. We show that the increase in inequality was strongly correlated with a rising capital share. Rising firm size was not associated with increasing income inequality. Relying on new sector-county data, we show that increasing strike activity worked as an offsetting factor. The socialist party benefited in elections from rising income inequality and rising labor income.
Abstract: This paper studies the economic and political effects of a large trade shock in agriculture -- the grain invasion from the Americas -- in Prussia during the first globalization (1871-1913). We show that this shock accelerated the structural change in the Prussian economy through migration of workers to booming cities. In contrast to studies using today's data, we do not observe declining per capita income and political polarization in counties affected by foreign competition. Our results suggest that the negative and persistent effects of trade shocks we see today are not a universal feature of globalization, but depend on labor mobility. For our analysis, we digitize data from Prussian industrial and agricultural censuses on the county level and combine it with national trade data at the product level. We exploit the cross-regional variation in cultivated crops within Prussia and instrument with Italian trade data to isolate exogenous variation.
On the Origins of National Identity. German Nation-Building after Napoleon, with Nikolaus Wolf.
Abstract: How did political elites shape national identities? In this paper, we investigate the success of nation-building policies in early 19th century Germany. To elicit changes in identity at the level of individuals we use data on first names given in over 40.000 families in German cities. Using changes in the Prussian territory as well as variation within the same families over time, we find that parents in cities treated by nation building policies responded by choosing national (rather than Prussian) first names for their children.
Review "Enacting Dismal Science. New Perspectives on the Performativity of Economics" by Ivan Boldyrev and Ekaterina Svetlova (eds.), with Anja Breljak, Journal of Economic Methodology 24(4), 434-440, 2017.
Summer Term 2022
Seminar Political Economy of Radicalization, with Monique Reiske
Seminar Regional and Political Polarization, with Miriam Roehrkasten
Seminar Political Economy, with Thilo Albers
Seminar Economics of Identity, with Nikolaus Wolf
Seminar Philosophy of Economics
Seminar Economics of Nationalism
Seminar Economic Crises and Political Change, with Nikolaus Wolf
Lecture Introduction to Economics and Economic History, with Thilo Albers
Tutorial Advanced International Trade, with Wolf-Fabian Hungerland
Tutorial Economic History I, 1800-1914