Gerhard Toews, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 23 September 2021

‘Enemies of the people’ were the millions of artists, engineers, managers, or professors who were thought to be a threat to the Soviet regime solely for being the educated elite. Along with millions of non-political prisoners, they were forcedly resettled to the Gulag, the system of labour camps across the Soviet Union. This column looks at the long-run consequences of this dark resettlement episode. It shows that areas around camps with a larger share of enemies of the people among camp prisoners are more prosperous today, as captured by firms’ wages and profits, as well as night lights per capita. 

Yusuke Narita, Shunsuke Aihara, Megumi Matsutani, Yuta Saito, 28 April 2021

Machine learning algorithms are increasingly being used in decision making. Web companies, car-sharing services, and courts rely on algorithms to supply content, set prices, and estimate recidivism rates. This column introduces a method for predicting counterfactual performance of new algorithms using data from older algorithms as a natural experiment. When applied to a fashion e-commerce service, the method increases the click through rate and improved the recommendations algorithm.  

Carl-Johan Dalgaard, Nicolai Kaarsen, Ola Olsson, Pablo Selaya, 10 April 2018

Although spatial differences in economic development tend to be highly persistent over time, this is not always the case. This column combines novel data on Roman Empire road networks with data on night-time light intensity to explore the persistence and non-persistence of a key proximate source of growth – public goods provision. Several empirical strategies all point to the Roman road network as playing an important role in the persistence of subsequent development.

Samuel Marden, 28 December 2014

It is often argued that for poor countries, increases in agricultural productivity result in higher non-agricultural output, but the theory is ambiguous and the empirical evidence is limited. This column presents evidence from a natural experiment provided by China’s early 1980s agricultural reforms. Higher agricultural output induced by the reforms led to quantitatively important growth in non-agricultural output. This growth appears to be primarily due to rural savings increasing the supply of capital to the non-agricultural sector.

Francesco Drago, Roberto Galbiati, Pietro Vertova, 30 July 2007

Among the many factors that influence the decision to commit a crime, public law and sanctioning activity play a crucial role. The authors of CEPR DP6401 find that among their dataset in Italy an additional month of expected punishment reduces the propensity to recommit a crime by 1.24%.

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