I am Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Economics at the University of Bristol and Research Associate at CAGE Warwick.
My research interests are Applied Microeconomics, Political Economy and Economic History. Wider fields of interest include Behavioural Economics, Development and Education.
If you are interested in my research, you can have a detailed look at my work below. If you are a student, please click here to go to my teaching page.
Impulse Purchases, Gun Ownership and Homicides: Evidence from a Firearm Demand Shock (with David Schindler) – [Abstract] Winner of the Econometric Society’s European Meeting Best Paper Award 2017
[Supersedes “Dynamics in Gun Ownership and Crime – Evidence from the Aftermath of Sandy Hook”]
Do firearm purchase delay laws reduce aggregate homicide levels? Using quasi-experimental evidence from a 6-month countrywide gun demand shock starting in late 2012, we show that U.S. states with legislation preventing immediate handgun purchases experienced smaller increases in handgun sales. Our findings are hard to reconcile with entirely rational consumers, but suggest that gun buyers behave time-inconsistently. In a second step, we demonstrate that states with purchase delays also witnessed 3% lower homicide rates during the same period compared to states allowing instant handgun access. We report suggestive evidence that lower handgun sales primarily reduced impulsive assaults and domestic violence.
Loose Cannons: War Veterans and the Erosion of Democracy in Weimar Germany – [Abstract] Cited in “The 4D Future of Economic History” by Kris J. Mitchener (Journal of Economic History, 2015)
I study the effect of war participation on the rise of right-wing parties in Inter-war Germany. After the democratisation and surrender of Germany in 1918, 8m German soldiers of WWI were demobilised. I argue that defeat made veterans particularly sceptical about the new democratic state. Their return undermined support for democratic parties from the very beginning and facilitated the reversion to autocratic rule 15 years later. In order to quantify this effect, I construct the first disaggregated estimates of German WWI veterans since official army records were destroyed. I combine this data with a new panel of voting results from 1881 to 1933. Diff-in-Diff estimates show that war participation had a strong positive effect on support for the right-wing at the expense of socialist parties. A one standard deviation increase in veteran inflow shifted vote shares to the right by more than 2 percentage points. An IV strategy based on draft exemption rules substantiates my findings. The effect of veterans on voting is highly persistent and strongest in working class areas. Gains for the right-wing, however, are only observed after a period of Communist insurgencies. I provide suggestive evidence that veterans must have picked up especially anti-Communist sentiments after defeat, injected these into the working class and in this way eroded the future of the young democracy.
[Supersedes “Competence vs. Loyalty: Political Survival and Electoral Fraud in Russia’s Regions 2000-2012”]
Theory and empirics suggest that patronage fosters election fraud. But why does fraud vary within autocracies where patronage’s incentives to manipulate should be uniformly high? In this paper, I explore whether information asymmetries can explain this phenomenon. I study the introduction of a patronage system which allowed Russia’s president to discretionarily appoint all 89 regional governors. After December 2004, all national elections were organized by governors facing removal but, crucially, only some were actually patronage-appointed with lower need to signal their qualities. I estimate the effect of the reform’s introduction and its staggered implementation on a new and verified regional fraud indicator for 7 national elections from 2000–2012. Results show that patronage increased overall levels of rigging but less so with patronage-appointed, connected governors. Appointments had no effect on actual election results and regional economic performance, which makes reduced uncertainty about governors’ loyalty the most plausible explanation.
I study the effect of a formative experience on political beliefs in a distant country. This paper looks at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and voters’ response in West Germany. The analysis uses a diff-in-diff estimation which exploits variation in proximity to the nearest nuclear power plant (NPP) across 301 counties. Proximity is used as proxy for the shock from perceived risk of a nuclear accident. Using data over almost 40 years and 11 elections, my results indicate that living closer to an NPP benefited the explicitly anti- and pro-nuclear parties, the Greens and the Conservatives. The findings are persistent and robust to the inclusion of several socio-economic controls as well as checks for the validity of the identifying assumptions. The gains of the Greens are similar across social groups and in line with home-voter effects. The effect of proximity on the conservatives increases with education and the number of adolescents in their impressionable years. I argue that this can be explained by political belief formation and differences in assessing the economic benefits from nuclear power over the actual risk of an accident. Using variation in the scheduling of subsequent state elections, I can also show that the pro-nuclear response was stronger in counties which did not vote in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl and thus had more time for a rational electoral choice.
Work in progress
Wages, Mortality and Voting in Imperial Germany (with Yanos Zylberberg)