Sascha O. Becker's research while affiliated with Monash University (Australia) and other places

Publications (139)

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Persecution, pogroms, and genocide have plagued humanity for centuries, costing millions of lives and haunting survivors. Economists and economic historians have recently made new contributions to the understanding of these phenomena. We provide a novel conceptual framework which highlights the inter-relationship between the intensity of persecutio...
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Forced displacement as a consequence of wars, civil conflicts, or natural disasters does not only have contemporaneous consequences but also long‐run repercussions. This eclectic overview summarises some recent research on forced displacement in economic history. While many of the episodes covered refer to Europe, this survey points to literature a...
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We investigate how changes in the sex ratio induced by World War II affected the bargaining patterns of Italian men in the marriage market. Marriage data from the first wave of the Italian Household Longitudinal Survey (1997) are matched with newly digitized information on war casualties coming from the Italian National Bureau of Statistics. We fin...
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How large is entrepreneurs’ personal importance to startups? We use the death of nearly 1,500 entrepreneurs as a source of exogenous variation, and find large and sustained negative effects on growth and profitability. For small startups, the effects go mainly via firm survival, while for larger startups the effects are mainly on firm growth. For l...
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Zusammenfassung Auch zum 30. Jubiläum der Deutschen Einheit ist noch viel von Ost-West-Unterschieden die Rede. Im Vordergrund stehen hierbei neben rein ökonomischen Differenzen auch Unterschiede in soziokulturellen Einstellungen und Verhaltensweisen. Dass diese Diskussionen auch nach so langer Zeit noch geführt werden, erscheint erstaunlich und wir...
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This paper evaluates the impact of changes in public employment on private sector activity using the creation of the new West German government in Bonn in the wake of the Second World War as a source of exogenous variation. To guide our empirical analysis, we develop a simple economic geography model in which public sector employment affects privat...
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How did the Prussian three-class franchise, which politically over-represented the economic elite, affect policies? Contrary to the predominant and simplistic view that the system allowed the landed elites to capture most political rents, we find that members of parliament from constituencies with a higher vote inequality support more liberal polic...
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We provide, for the first time, a detailed and comprehensive overview of the demography of more than 50,000 towns, villages, and manors in 1871 Prussia. We study religion, literacy, fertility, and group segregation by location type (town, village, and manor). We find that Jews live predominantly in towns. Villages and manors are substantially segre...
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This article analyzes Martin Luther’s role in spreading the early Reformation, one of the most important episodes of radical institutional change in the last millennium. We argue that social relations played a key role in its diffusion because the spread of heterodox ideologies and their eventual institutionalization relied not only on private “inf...
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This chapter surveys the recent social science literature on religion in economic history, covering both socioeconomic causes and consequences of religion. Following the rapidly growing literature, it focuses on the three main monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and on the period up to WWII. Works on Judaism address Jewish occupational spe...
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We study the long-run effects of forced migration on investment in education. After World War II, millions of Poles were forcibly uprooted from the Kresy territories of eastern Poland and resettled (primarily) in the newly acquired Western Territories, from which the Germans were expelled. We combine historical censuses with newly collected survey...
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German separation in 1949 into a communist East and a capitalist West and their reunification in 1990 are commonly described as a natural experiment to study the enduring effects of communism. We show in three steps that the populations in East and West Germany were far from being randomly selected treatment and control groups. First, the later bor...
Chapter
Five hundred years ago, according to legend, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the castle church of Wittenberg—and changed the course of history. Cliometric research over the past years has generated several new insights about the consequences of the Protestant Reformation. One can observe a veritable digitization boom which changed...
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We study the role of economic incentives in shaping the coexistence of Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, using novel data from Germany for 1,000+ cities. The Catholic usury ban and higher literacy rates gave Jews a specific advantage in the moneylending sector. Following the Protestant Reformation (1517), the Jews lost these advantages in regions t...
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Due to conventional gender norms, women are more likely to be in charge of childcare than men. From an employer's perspective, in their fertile age they are also at “risk” of pregnancy. Both factors potentially affect hiring practices of firms. We conduct a large-scale correspondence test in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, sending out approx. 90...
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Forced migration as a consequence of wars, civil conflicts, or natural disasters may have consequences different from those of voluntary migration. Recent work has highlighted the consequences of forced migration on receiving populations, on migrants themselves and on sending populations. We document findings from recent work, on education and othe...
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Previous analyses of the 2016 Brexit referendum used region-level data or small samples based on polling data. The former might be subject to ecological fallacy and the latter might suffer from small-sample bias. We use individual-level data on thousands of respondents in Understanding Society, the UK's largest household survey, which includes the...
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We exploit a unique historical setting to study the long-run effects of forced migration on investment in education. After World War II, the Polish borders were redrawn, resulting in largescale migration. Poles were forced to move from the Kresy territories in the East (taken over by the USSR) and were resettled mostly to the newly acquired Western...
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Das Brexit-Referendum vom 23. Juni 2016 stellt einen zentralen Wendepunkt in der britischen Nachkriegsgeschichte dar. Bei der Analyse der Wahlergebnisse zeigt sich, dass das Abstimmen für den EU-Austritt offenbar wenig mit der Handels- und Wirtschaftspolitik der EU zusammenhängt. Stattdessen scheint die Furcht vor Einwanderung, insbesondere in Gebi...
Chapter
In modern economies, more educated people typically earn more, live healthier lives, are less likely to be divorced, are more future-oriented, less likely to have children while teenagers and less likely to be ever arrested. This chapter discusses some of the drivers of education, its relationship to culture and virtues, as well as its impact on de...
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This paper analyzes the regional effects of EU Regional Policy during four programming periods: 1989-1993, 1994-1999, 2000-2006, 2007-2013. In particular, the focus is on the impact of transfers during the Financial and Economic Crisis and on the effects of gaining versus losing treatment status under the main Regional Policy subprogram – referred...
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This chapter sheds light on the effectiveness of EU Regional Policy with a particular focus on the UK. Some taxpayers in the UK might be concerned whether the EU spends their contributions to the EU Regional Policy budget wisely, independent of whether EU money returns to the UK or not. Also, some UK taxpayers might wonder whether the UK has benefi...
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On 23 June 2016, the British electorate voted to leave the European Union (EU). We analyse vote and turnout shares across 380 local authority areas in the United Kingdom. We find that exposure to the EU in terms of immigration and trade provides relatively little explanatory power for the referendum vote. Instead, we find that fundamental character...
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In an economic theory of suicide, we model social cohesion of the religious community and religious beliefs about afterlife as two mechanisms by which Protestantism increases suicide propensity. We build a unique microregional data set of 452 Prussian counties for 1816 to 1821 and 1869 to 1871, when religiousness was still pervasive. Exploiting the...
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Why did substantial parts of Europe abandon the institutionalized churches around 1900? Empirical studies using modern data mostly contradict the traditional view that education was a leading source of the seismic social phenomenon of secularization. We construct a unique panel dataset of advanced-school enrollment and Protestant church attendance...
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A popular view is that economics is about inflation, unemployment, prices, and quantities, but not about religion or culture. And surely, soft factors such as religion do not matter for economic outcomes? Not surprisingly, students of economics would not typically come across these in their lectures on microeconomics, macroeconomics, or econometric...
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The Protestant Reformation is one of the defining events of the last millennium. Nearly 500 years after the Reformation, its causes and consequences have seen a renewed interest in the social sciences. Research in economics, sociology, and political science increasingly uses detailed individual-level, city-level, and regional-level data to identify...
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The Protestant Reformation is one of the defining events of the last millennium. Nearly 500 years after the Reformation, its causes and consequences have seen a renewed interest in the social sciences. Research in economics, sociology, and political science increasingly uses detailed individual-level, city-level, and regional-level data to identify...
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This paper combines representative worker-level data that cover time-varying job-level task characteristics of an economy over several decades with sector-level bilateral trade data for merchandise and services. We carefully create longitudinally consistent workplace characteristics from the German Qualification and Career Survey 1979-2006 and prep...
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Researchers often estimate average treatment effects of programs without investigating heterogeneity across units. Yet, individuals, firms, regions, or countries vary in their ability to utilize transfers. We analyze Objective 1 transfers of the EU to regions below a certain income level by way of a regression discontinuity design with systematical...
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We study gift exchange in a field experiment where a random subsample of participants in the Swiss Labour Force Survey received vouchers to be used in adult training. Actual voucher redemption can be traced, giving us the unique opportunity to study whether gift exchange in the form of participation in future rounds of the survey depends on the per...
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The interplay between religion and the economy has occupied social scientists for long. We construct a unique panel of income and Protestant church attendance for six waves of up to 175 Prussian counties spanning 1886-1911. The data reveal a marked decline in church attendance coinciding with increasing income. The cross-section also shows a negati...
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In the large literature on firm performance, economists have given little attention to entrepreneurs. We use deaths of more than 500 entrepreneurs as a source of exogenous variation, and ask whether this variation can explain shifts in firm performance. Using longitudinal data, we find large and sustained effects of entrepreneurs at all levels of t...
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Most existing empirical evidences on the impact of profit taxation on multinational firm activity are based on cross-country data. One major drawback of such data is that countries differ not only with regard to taxes but also with other dimensions which might be hard to capture by means of observable characteristics. We compile a database of more...
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This paper provides a documentation of the ifo Prussian Economic History Database (iPEHD), a county-level database covering a rich collection of variables for 19th-century Prussia. The Royal Prussian Statistical Office collected these data in several censuses over the years 1816-1901, with much county-level information surviving in archives. These...
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Abstract Using data on German and Swedish multinational enterprises (MNEs), this pa- per analyzes determinants of location choice and the degree of substitutability of labor across locations. Countries with highly skilled labor forces strongly attract German but not necessarily Swedish MNEs. In MNEs from either coun- try, affiliate employment tends...
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Research increasingly stresses the role of human capital in modern economic development. Existing historical evidence -- mostly from British textile industries -- however, rejects that formal education was important for the Industrial Revolution. Our new evidence from technological follower Prussia uses a unique school enrollment and factory employ...
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Transfers to individuals, firms, and regions are often regulated by threshold rules, giving rise to a regression discontinuity design. An example are transfers provided by the European Commission to regions of EU member states below a certain income level. Researchers have focused on estimation of the average treatment effect of this program, assum...
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In his 1897 classic, Émile Durkheim presented aggregate indicators suggesting that Protestantism was a leading correlate of suicide incidence. We extend the economic theory of suicide to account for an effect of Protestant vs. Catholic denomination, modeling differences in the integration of the religious community, views about the impact of man on...
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We model the effect of Protestant vs. Catholic denomination in an economic theory of suicide, accounting for differences in religious-community integration, views about man’s impact on God’s grace, and the possibility of confessing sins. We test the theory using a unique micro-regional dataset of 452 counties in 19th-century Prussia, when religious...
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Different from traditional gift exchange experiments, we study a field experiment where a random subsample of participants in the Swiss Labor Force Survey was sent vouchers to be used in adult training courses. Importantly for our purposes, actual voucher redemption can be traced. This gives the unique opportunity to study whether gift exchange in...
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While women's employment opportunities, relative wages, and the child quantity–quality trade-off have been studied as factors underlying historical fertility limitation, the role of women's education has received little attention. We combine Prussian county data from three censuses—1816, 1849, and 1867—to estimate the relationship between women's e...
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Do empires affect attitudes towards the state long after their demise? We hypothesize that the Habsburg Empire with its localized and well-respected administration increased citizens’ trust in local public services. In several Eastern European countries, communities on both sides of the long-gone Habsburg border have been sharing common formal inst...
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The interaction between investment in children’s education and parental fertility is crucial in recent theories of the transition from Malthusian stagnation to modern economic growth. This paper contributes to the literature on the child quantity-quality trade-off with new county-level evidence for Prussia in 1816, several decades before the demogr...
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The European Union (EU) provides grants to disadvantaged regions of member states from two pools, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. The main goal of the associated transfers is to facilitate convergence of poor regions (in terms of per-capita income) to the EU average. We use data at the NUTS3 level from the last two EU budgetary periods...
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The European Union (EU) provides grants to disadvantaged regions of member states to allow them to catch up with the EU average. Under the Objective 1 scheme, NUTS2 regions with a per capita GDP level below 75% of the EU average qualify for structural funds transfers from the central EU budget. This rule gives rise to a regression-discontinuity des...
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Across Prussian counties and towns, Protestantism led to more schooling already in 1816, before the Industrial Revolution. This supports a human capital theory of Protestant economic history and rules out a Weberian explanation of Protestant education just resulting from industrialization.
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Do Empires affect human values and behavior long after their demise? In several Eastern European countries, communities on both sides of the long-gone border of the Habsburg Empire have been sharing common formal institutions for 90 years now. We exploit this geographic discontinuity in a regression-discontinuity design with country fixed effects u...
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This paper is based on an annual survey of manufacturing firms, surveyed by the Ifo Institute. 75% of the firms interviewed are exporters and are particularly exposed to global competition. This paper analyses the question whether product or process innovations are more important for employment growth. The results show that product and process inno...
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Existing evidence, mostly from British textile industries, rejects the importance of formal education for the Industrial Revolution. We provide new evidence from Prussia, a technological follower, where early-19th-century institutional reforms created the conditions to adopt the exogenously emerging new technologies. Our unique school-enrollment an...
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Although there are indications of common regional corruption characteristics, empirical studies of corruption have assumed that influences on corruption are country-specific. In this paper we report evidence based on a cross-section of 123 economies confirming that, with few specific exceptions, corruption is a regional phenomenon. Institutional ch...
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Employment at a multinational enterprise (MNE) responds to wages at the extensive margin, when an MNE enters a foreign location, and at the intensive margin, when an MNE operates existing affiliates. We present an MNE model and conditions for parametric and nonparametric identification. Prior studies rarely found wages to affect MNE employment. Our...
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This article provides an empirical analysis of the effects of new product versus process innovations on export propensity at the firm level. Product innovation is a key factor for successful market entry in models of creative destruction and Schumpeterian growth. Process innovation helps securing a firm’s market position given the characteristics o...
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Since unification, the debate about Germany's poor economic performance has focused on supply-side weaknesses, and the associated reform agenda sought to make low-skill labour markets more flexible. We question this diagnosis using three lines of argument. First, effective restructuring of the supply side in the core advanced industries was carried...
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In this paper, the investigation is conducted on the relationship between the number of fatalities by dint of traffic accidents and the gross municipal product, by using the panel data whose crosssectional units are composed of municipalities in Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan. It turns out that the conventional quasi-differenced GMM estimator gives un...
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We introduce a new hybrid approach to joint estimation of Value at Risk (VaR) and Expected Shortfall (ES) for high quantiles of return distributions. We investigate the relative performance of VaR and ES models using daily returns for sixteen stock market indices (eight from developed and eight from emerging markets) prior to and during the 2008 fi...
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We explore the link between portfolio home bias and consumption risk sharing among Italian regions using aggregated household level information on consumption, income and portfolio holdings. We propose to use data on equity fund ownership to proxy for regional home bias: equity funds are typically diversified at the national or international level...