Economic history

Ellora Derenoncourt, Chi Hyun Kim, Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, 04 July 2022

Large and persistent wealth gaps between Black and white Americans have attracted considerable attention from researchers and policymakers. This column presents a new long-run time series of the per capita wealth gap, from before the Civil War to 2020. A key finding is that severe racial differences in initial conditions after Emancipation have contributed greatly to today’s stalled progress in closing the racial wealth gap. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for policies that seek to foster greater racial wealth equality in the near future. 

Stefano Gagliarducci, Marco Tabellini, 02 July 2022

How ethnic religious organisations influence immigrants’ assimilation in host societies has been surprisingly understudied. This column looks at the effect of Italian Catholic churches in the US between 1890 and 1920 when four million Italians moved to America and anti-Catholic sentiments were widespread. Italian churches reduced social assimilation of Italian immigrants, lowering intermarriage, residential integration, and naturalisation rates. However, the churches had ambiguous effects on immigrants’ economic outcomes and increased children’s literacy and ability to speak English.

David de la Croix, Mara Vitale, 15 June 2022

Academia has seen remarkable progress in gender equality over the last 50 years, but has yet to achieve parity – particularly in economics and STEM disciplines. This column documents the participation of women in European academia from the first universities to the eve of the Industrial Revolution, with unexpected results. Of the 108 women who taught at universities or belonged to academies, most were in Catholic southern Europe, challenging the idea that Protestantism was more liberal than Catholicism, at least where the participation of women in upper-tail human capital was concerned.

Ellen Munroe, Anastasiia Nosach, Juan Felipe Riaño, Ana Tur-Prats, Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 08 June 2022

The war in Ukraine is having immediate and stark humanitarian and economic impacts, yet its long-term consequences are challenging to predict. This column revisits the evidence on the long-term impact of conflict and presents preliminary evidence for the continued invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The after-effects of bombing campaigns and those of violence against civilians can be substantial and are typically, although not exclusively, damaging. The authors find a strong positive correlation between the presence of ethnic Russians historically and current conflict, as well as a negative relationship between modern conflict and Holodomor famine deaths, both within Ukraine.

Giampaolo Lecce, Laura Ogliari, Tommaso Orlando, 05 June 2022

Successful state formation processes are a crucial element for the development of well-functioning institutions. However, there are many instances of state building encountering resistance by local communities. This column uses Italian unification as a historical case study to investigate how cultural proximity to the new ruler may promote successful state building. The authors find that communities culturally closer to the new ruler have a lower propensity to rebel, and discuss two possible cultural mechanisms: social identification with the new ruler, and ‘goodness of fit’ of the new institutions with local values.

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