• 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 research, I study nation-building policies, drivers of inequality between and within regions, as well as political polarization, often with focus on the 19th century. A recent version of CV can be found here.

  • Research


    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 in German][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

    When Autocrats Fail: Bismarck and the Socialists.

    Abstract: In this paper, I analyze Bismarck’s attempts to reduce support for the revolutionary socialist party by introducing, first, a redistributive social insurance scheme for workers and, second, repressive anti-socialist laws. Overall, I find that Bismarck failed in reducing the support for the socialist party. To the contrary, the socialist party gained in constituencies more affected by his policies. For identification, I exploit local and industry-specific variation in treatment intensity due to ex-ante existing local healthcare. This variation allows me to use a difference-in-differences as well as a shift-share approach. I explain the result by an unintended consequence of the social insurance: one particular form of health insurance (so-called auxiliary funds) allowed the socialist party a new way of political organization in an otherwise repressive political environment.


    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.

    [Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality WP No. 32] [EHES WP No. 211]

    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.


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

    Abstract: We study the "grain invasion" of the first globalization (1880-1913) as the historical counterpart to the modern "China shock". Similar to findings on recent trade shocks, we show that trade shocks in agriculture depress the economy of rural counties in Imperial Germany. However, we do not find a corresponding decline in income per capita which we attribute to high levels of labor migration. In line with this result, we also do not observe political polarization as a result of this globalization shock. Overall, our results suggest that the negative and persistent effects of trade shocks in the present are not a universal feature of trade integration. For our analysis, we combine data from three industrial and agricultural censuses on the county-level with national trade data at the product level. For causal identification, we instrument trade exposure with trade exposure for Italy.


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

    [CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16314]

    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.

    Book Reviews

    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.


    Book Chapter

    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.


  • Teaching

    Winter Term 2021/2022

    Seminar Regional and Political Polarization, with Miriam Roehrkasten

    Seminar Empirical Research, with Nikolaus Wolf

    Previous Teaching

    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