Working Papers

Carrots and Sticks: Targeting the Opposition in an Autocratic Regime

Job Market Paper

Winner Unicredit Econ Job Market Best Paper Award 2019

Autocratic regimes can use carrots and/or sticks to ensure that they are not overthrown by their opposition in the population. Carrots, i.e. allocation of resources, increase the popularity of the regime, but can induce moral hazard if the opposition learns that protesting is rewarded. Sticks, i.e. repression, decrease the likelihood that protests are successful, but decrease popularity of the regime. This paper looks at the joint allocation of resources and repression by considering the case of residential construction and military presence in former East Germany after an Uprising in 1953. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I show that after the Uprising both construction and military presence increased in protest municipalities compared to non-protest municipalities. This result cannot be explained by pre-existing differences, differential demand for housing, or external warfare considerations. I examine the timing of construction and show that construction in municipalities increases after military units are assigned

to them, indicating that the regime deliberately used carrots to alleviate the negative effect of sticks on popularity. Lastly, I study support for the regime after its demise in 1990. I find that the decrease in support was smaller in areas that received more construction. This paper thus provides empirical evidence that autocratic regimes target their opposition with both carrots

and sticks as complements.

The Rise of Fiscal Capacity (with Davide Cantoni and Matthias Weigand)

Working Paper, R&R Econometrica

This paper studies the role of fiscal capacity in European state consolidation. Our analysis is organized around novel data on the territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the early modern era. Territories implementing an early fiscal reform were more likely to survive, increased in size, and achieved a more compact extent. We provide evidence for the causal interpretation of these results and show key mechanisms: revenues, military investments, and marriage success. The imposition of Imperial taxes, which increased the benefits of an efficient tax administration, exogenously drove the implementation of fiscal centralization, tilting the consolidating states toward absolutism.

Work in progress

Who Makes it in an Autocracy? Networks and Political Careers in the GDR (with Leonie Bielefeld)

(Draft coming soon)

Individualism, Identity, and Institutional Stability: Evidence from First Names in Germany, 1700–1850 (with Davide Cantoni and Matthias Weigand)


Exorcizing Hitler: Anti-Semitism and the Denazification of Germany (with Nico Voigtländer and Joachim Voth)