• Welcome

    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 (summary published in the European Review of Economic History here). A recent version of CV can be found here.

  • Research

    Publication

    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.

    [PDF Open Access][Replication File][Online Appendix][VoxEU Column][Ökonomenstimme Column][FAZ Article in German]

    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.

    Working Papers

    Trade Shocks, Labor Markets, and Elections in the First Globalization, with Richard Bräuer and Wolf-Fabian Hungerland. R&R Economic Journal.

    [IWH Discussion Paper, October 2021][Short summary in German: Wirtschaft in Wandel]

    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.

     

    Testing Marx. Inequality, Concentration, and Political Polarization in Late 19th Century Germany, with Charlotte Bartels and Nikolaus Wolf. R&R Review of Economics and Statistics.

    [EHES WP No. 211, March 2021]

    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.

     

    Income Misperception and Populism, with Thilo N. H. Albers and Fabian Kosse.

    [IZA DP No. 15673, October 2022]

    Abstract: We propose that false beliefs about the own current economic status are an important factor for explaining populist attitudes. Along with the subjects’ receptiveness to right-wing populism, we elicit their perceived relative income positions in a representative survey of German households. We find that people with pessimistic beliefs about their income position are more attuned to populist statements. Key to understanding the misperception-populism relationship are strong gender differences in the mechanism: Misperception triggers income dissatisfaction for both men and women, but the former are much more likely to channel their discontent into affection for populist ideas.

     

    Welfare Reform and Repression in an Autocracy: Bismarck and the Socialists.

    [EHES WP No. 227, September 2022]

    Abstract: Can autocratic governments gain support by implementing a welfare reform and a repressive law? This paper studies a famous case – Bismarck’s policies of 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 flexible difference-in-differences as well as a shift-share approach. As mechanisms, I highlight that the socialist party evaded the repression by reallocating their activity and gained from the social insurance by claiming the credits for the welfare reform and providing a local cooperative alternative.

     

    On the Origins of National Identity. German Nation-Building after Napoleon, with Nikolaus Wolf.

    [CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16314, July 2021]

    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.

    Other Publications

    The Political Economy of Social Identity in 19th Century Germany, European Review of Economic History, Forthcoming [summary of my dissertation].

     

    National identity, economic integration, and the rise of Prussia, with Nikolaus Wolf, In: Ulrich Pfister and Nikolaus Wolf (eds.). An Economic History of the First German Unification. Routledge, Forthcoming.

    German version: Nationale Identität, ökonomische Integration und der Aufstieg Preusses, with Nikolaus Wolf, In: Ulrich Pfister et al. (eds.). Deutschland 1871. Die Nationalstaatsbildung und der Weg in die Moderne Wirtschaft. Mohr Siebeck, 23-47, 2021.

     

    Review "Capital and Ideology" by Thomas Piketty, with Till Breyer, Critical Inquiry 47(3), 613-615, 2021.

    German version: Theorieblog.

     

    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.

     

  • Teaching

    Winter Term 2022/23

    Seminar Empirical Research in Economics, with Nikolaus Wolf

    Tutorial European Economic History I, 1800-1914

    Previous Teaching

    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 European Economic History I, 1800-1914