My very own 'surprising similarities'... (with apologies to Kenneth Pomeranz)
Associate Professor, School of Economics, University of Nottingham
Research Affiliate, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Member, Institutions, Trade and Economic Development (InsTED) network
Associate Editor, Empirical Economics
Editorial Board, International Economics
ACADEMIC BIO I'm an empirical economist at the School of Economics, University of Nottingham. After 2.5 years of undergraduate studies in German literature and Sinology at the University of Freiburg (Germany) I moved to Beijing (Renmin University) for two years in the late 1990s to study Mandarin. I then entered the final year of the BA in Modern Chinese Studies at Leeds University and graduated in 2000. After working for a year I entered the MA Development Economics programme of the School of Development Studies at UEA in Norwich. From 2002-2004 I was employed by the School of Management, University of Bath, on a project investigating sourcing strategies of manufacturing MNCs in China, for which I was based in Shanghai during 2003 and interviewed over 80 companies along China's Eastern Seaboard. In autumn 2004 I moved to Oxford to study on the MPhil in Economics, followed by the DPhil from 2006-9. I stayed on as a post-doc in the Centre for the Study of African Economies until 2011 when I moved to Nottingham. I was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017.
RESEARCH My current research interests include financial crises, Qing China in the 18th and 19th centuries, democracy and economic development, and knowledge spillovers/absorptive capacity. The common denominator of these diverse topics is an empirical one, namely 'second generation' macro panel econometrics in linear and more recently nonlinear models.
TEACHING I teach a large UG Year 2 module on Applied Econometrics and am the module convenor for the (compulsory) dissertation of our Final Year UG students.
SERVICE At Nottingham I am the UG admissions tutor, the data lead for the Equalities, Diversity and Integration (EDI) Committee and a member of the Publicity & Outreach Committee. Externally, I am an examiner for the MSc in Economics with Development at the University of Oxford (Department of Economics/DOID), an associate editor at Empirical Economics and a member of the editorial board at International Economics.
LATEST RESEARCH NEWS
April 2022: My paper 'Democracy, Growth, Heterogeneity and Robustness' has been accepted for publication at the European Economic Review. This makes the case for cross-country differences in the long-run equilibrium effect of democratisation on economic growth. I draw on a wide range of recent pol-sci and economics literature to motivate such heterogeneity and adopt a heterogeneous diff-in-diff implementation to estimate ATET for a variety of definitions of democracy. I then subject the estimated ITET (individual country treatment effects) to a number of empirical tests to speak to existing hypotheses such as the relevance of economic development, democratic legacy, elite-biased democratisation or 'democracy by mistake'. The final part of the paper carries out some rule-based sample reduction exercises which showcase the robustness of my empirical findings.
February 2022: With Rachel Cho and Rodolphe Desbordes I have published a working paper entitled 'Too much finance... for whom? The causal effects of the two faces of financial development' in the CEPR discussion paper series. We use a heterogeneous diff-in-diff approach to investigate whether countries with very high financial development (proxied using private credit/GDP) experience detrimental effects to long-run economic prosperity and find this is not the case. We then investigate whether countries which experienced high levels of financial development had systematically higher propensity for banking crises in the short-run due to canonical crisis determinants ('credit booms gone bust', unfettered capital inflows) when they were in the higher relative to the lower financial development 'regime'. Again, we find no evidence to support this notion. When we extend our analysis to investigate emerging economies at intermediate levels of financial development (i.e. 'too much finance' in developing economies) we detect that being in the higher financial development regime in the short-run leads to a higher propensity for banking crises due to capital inflows and commodity price movements, but there are no implications for long-run growth.
February 2022: With Vanessa Boese I have published a working paper entitled 'Which Institutions Rule? Unbundling the Democracy-Growth Nexus' in the V-Dem working paper series. We drill down from an encompassing concept of 'liberal democracy' to the underlying political and economic institutions driving the positive democracy-growth nexus. We find that free elections and freedom of association as well as legislative constraints on the executive are the long-run drivers of economic growth.
January 2022: With my colleagues Giovanni Facchini and Valeria Rueda we published a working paper entitled 'Gender differences in reference letters: Evidence from the Economics Job Market'. We use natural language processing to study over 9,000 reference letters written in support of 2,800 job market candidates in economics over the 2017-2020 period. Our findings suggest that female candidates are disproportionately described using 'grindstone' terms, while at times terms their are less likely to be praised for their ability. The IZA working paper version is here, the VoxEU column here.
December 2021: My research with Vanessa Boese on 'Democracy doesn't alway happen overnight: Regime change and economic growth' has been invited for R&R at the Review of Economics and Statistics.
December 2021: I have been invited to join the Editorial Board of International Economics.
November 2021: I was invited to present my joint work with Vanessa Boese on 'Unbundling Democracy' at the V-Dem 'Case for Democracy' conference in Brussels (virtual presentation), alongside Jim Robinson (Chicago), John Doces (Bucknell) and Mario Maggiano (Sacre Cuore Milan).
March 2021: Our paper on banking crises in Low-Income Countries (with Andrea Presbitero) has been accepted for publication at the Journal of International Economics. We study a sample of 60 LICs from 1963-2015 and added a historical sample for 40 'peripheral' economies covering 1848-1938. The bottom line is that aggregate commodity price volatility is a significant predictor of banking crises, the mechanism seems to work through a fiscal channel (lower revenues, higher debt in general, reduction in maturity of the debt) which we trace in additional empirical exercises.
February 2021: My co-author Vanessa Boese and I have released the first draft of our paper 'Democracy doesn't alway happen overnight: Regime change and economic growth' (V-Dem WP here). We motivate the idea that (as the title suggests) democratic regime change often takes considerable time and isn't always crowned by a successful outcome, and then analyse this using recent V-Dem data on 'Episodes of Regime Transformation'. This is basically about selection into democratisation and subsequent selection into regime change, so we devise a 'repeated difference in difference estimator' and estimate heterogeneous treatment effects in a large sample of countries from 1950-2014. Our findings suggest that the democratic growth dividend is substantially underestimated if democratic regime change is modelled as a single event.
September 2020: My paper on public debt and growth (with Andrea Presbitero) came in 3rd place in the Google Scholar ranking for the Journal of International Economics (on the basis of citations for 2015-19).
March 2020: The revised draft of my paper on absorptive capacity evolution in advanced economies (with Stef De Visscher, Gerdie Everaert, both Ghent) has been accepted at the Journal of International Economics. We adopt a common factor model with time-varying country-specific factor loadings to obtain an estimated measure for absorptive capacity which do not assume any specific 'transmission channels' (trade, FDI, physical proximity,...) or observable variables (e.g. R&D, financial development, human capital,...). A new extension to the model still allows for unobserved determinants but also includes R&D, fin-dev, HC, and regulation/competition policy (which turned out to be quite tricky). The revised draft is here.
Last changed: April 20, 2022