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 prevent being overthrown by protests. Carrots, i.e. resource allocation, reduce the probability of protests, but cannot help to end them. Sticks, i.e. repression, reduce the probability that protests overthrow the regime, but also decrease its popularity. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I show that residential construction and military presence increase in protest municipalities after an uprising in 1953 in former East Germany. This cannot be explained by pre-existing differences, demand for housing, or external warfare considerations. Carrots were furthermore used to counteract sticks' negative effect on popularity. More construction is associated with more regime support.


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. 

Elite Selection in an Autocracy: Career Costs of Political Ties (with Leonie Bielefeld)

Working Paper

We study the selection of the political elite in an autocratic state. Using detailed CV data on potential politicians in the German Democratic Republic, we track and quantify the position of individuals in the state hierarchy over time and exploit exogenous connections between individuals that were formed through imprisonment during the Nazi Era. We find asymmetric effects of being connected to the political elite: While being linked to the state’s centre of power harms high-profile careers, they have positive effects on low-profile careers. An extensive analysis of potential mechanisms shows that the negative effect of being linked to the party leadership on individuals’ probability to be part of the ruling elite is in line with anti-factionalism, whereas the positive effect on low-profile careers is in line with patronage. 

Work in progress

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)