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Technological Progress and Health Convergence: The Case of Penicillin in Post-War Italy

Throughout history, technological progress has transformed population health, but the distributional effects of these gains are unclear. New substitutes for older, more expensive health technologies can produce convergence in population health outcomes, but may also be prone to “elite capture” leading to divergence. This paper studies the case of penicillin using detailed mortality statistics and exploiting its sharply-timed introduction in Italy after World War II.

“Sons of the Soil” A Model of Assimilation and Population Control

We model the cultural outcomes of “sons of the soil” conflicts. These are conflicts between the local inhabitants of a particular region and migrants to the region, typically belonging to a dominant national culture. Our goal is to understand the conditions under which migrants assimilate into the local culture, or the locals assimilate into the national culture. The model has two main actors: a national elite of a dominant ethnic group, and a regional elite seeking to promote the traditional culture of the sons of the soil. Both actors have parallel strategies, viz.

Economic Foundations of the Territorial State System

The contemporary world is organized into a system of territorial states in which rulers exercise authority inside clearly dened boundaries and recognize the authority of other rulers outside those boundaries. We develop a model to explain how the major economic and military developments in Europe starting in the 15th century contributed to the development of this system. Our model rationalizes the system as an economic cartel in which self-interested and forward-looking rulers maintain high tax revenues by reducing competition in the \market for governance."

Backlash: The Unintended Effects of Language Prohibition in U.S. Schools after World War I

Can forced assimilation policies successfully integrate immigrant groups? This paper examines how a specific assimilation policy – language restrictions in elementary school – affects integration and identification with the host country later in life. After World War I, several U.S. states barred the German language from their schools. I find that affected individuals were less likely to volunteer in WWII and more likely to marry within their ethnic group and to choose decidedly German names for their offspring.

Reprisals Remembered: German-Greek Conflict and Car Sales During the Euro Crisis

Limited attention and selective memory are key behavioral factors identified in the literature on cognitive biases and economic outcomes. We investigate how events trigger selective recall and thus change economic behavior. Following public disagreement between German and Greek politicians, Greek consumers drastically reduced their purchased of German automobiles - especially in areas affected by German reprisals during World War II.

A Tale of Two Crises: Greece and Iceland

In the fall of 2008, Iceland suffered a severe shock when its largest banks collapsed. The size of the shock was enormous relative to the size of the economy The Icelandic government immediately began addressing the difficult problems that arose, entering into an IMF program in November 2008. In the fall of 2010, the newly elected government of Greece announced that its predecessor had misreported and hidden the true magnitude of the prospective fiscal deficit (over 15 percent of GDP) for the fiscal year then in progress.  Greek government debt was already over 100 percent of GDP.

Copyright and Creativity – Evidence from Italian Operas

This paper exploits variation in the adoption of copyright laws within Italy – as a result of Napoleon’s military campaign - to examine the effects of copyrights on creativity. To measure variation in the quantity and quality of creative output, we have collected detailed data on 2,598 operas that premiered across eight states within Italy between 1770 and 1900. These data indicate that the adoption of copyrights led to a significant increase in the number of new operas premiered per state and year.

Social Institutions and Economic Growth: Why England Rather than China Became the First Modern Economy

This paper highlights the crucial impact of social institutions on the historical process leading to the modern economy. Social institutions that insure risk-takers and limit violent responses to economic changes influence investment in generating and implementing individually-risky, growth-enhancing new knowledge. The model allows for the possibility that even when social institutions are designed by the elite, social and cultural norms impact their form and that institutional forms matter, particularly due to institutions' unforeseen consequences.

The Clan and the City: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe

Over the last millennium, the clan and the city have been the locus of cooperation in China and Europe respectively. This paper examines - analytically, historically, and empirically - the cultural, social, and institutional co-evolution that led to this bifurcation. We highlight that groups with which individuals identify are basic units of cooperation. Such groups impact institutional development because intra-group moral commitment reduces enforcement cost implying a comparative advantage in pursuing collective actions.

Economic Policy Reform in Brazil and Turkey

At the turn of the century, the economies of both Brazil and Turkey encountered very serious difficulties; both countries resorted to IMF adjustment programs. The problems that were encountered, and the policy measures taken to address them, are analyzed. Thereafter, the lessons from the two crises are set forth. First, tighter fiscal and monetary policy may in fact be followed by more rapid economic growth. Second, even when the situation is dire, appropriate economic policy reforms can fundamentally alter the economic prospects of an economy.


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