Carrots and Sticks: Targeting the Opposition in an Autocratic Regime
Winner Unicredit Econ Job Market Best Paper Award 2019
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)
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.