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Research Focus

The Seminar for Economic and Business History focuses on the quantitative study of economic history and long-term development. Members of the team conduct research to answer questions such as: what historical events and factors were crucial for the differential economic developments of regions and countries? What is the reason for the persistence of economic differences? What factors affect or drive economic development?

Research conducted at this chair aims to identify historically important factors that cause differences in economic development over time and space. These factors include aspects of institutional change, human capital formation, and technological diffusion, as well as geographical and cultural factors.

As a quantitative economic historian, we typically work with microeconomic methods to answer macroeconomic questions. In our research, we often combine historical microdata and administrative data with geospatial information. Our detailed datasets allow us to apply econometric methods aimed at drawing causal inference regarding the analyzed relationships. For more information, please see the publications.


Working Papers

  • Capital-Skill Complementarity and the Emergence of Labor Emancipation (with Quamrul Ashraf, Francesco Cinnirella, Oded Galor, and Boris Gershman), CESifo Working Paper 6423

Articles in Refereed Journals

  • Roman Transport Network Connectivity and Economic Integration (with Matthias Flückiger, Mario Larch, Markus Ludwig, and Allard Mees), Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming [DOI]

  • Bismarck's Health Insurance and the Mortality Decline (with Stefan Bauernschuster and Anastasia Driva), Journal of the European Economic Association, 18(5), 2020, 2561-2607 [DOI]

  • The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-class Franchise (with Sascha O. Becker), Journal of Economic History, 80(4), 2020, 1143-1188 [DOI]

  • Diasporas, Diversity, and Economic Activity: Evidence from 18th-century Berlin, Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming [DOI]

  • Landownership Concentration and the Expansion of Education (with Francesco Cinnirella), Journal of Development Economics, 121, 2016, 135-152. [DOI]

  • Railroads and Growth in Prussia, Journal of the European Economic Association, 13(4), 2015, 699-736. [DOI]

  • iPEHD - The ifo Prussian Economic History Database (with Sascha O. Becker, Francesco Cinnirella, Ludger Woessmann), Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 47(2), 2014, 57-66. [DOI]

  • Immigration and the Diffusion of Technology: The Huguenot Diaspora in Prussia, American Economic Review, 104 (1), 2014, 84-122. [DOI]

  • Education and Catch-Up in the Industrial Revolution (with Sascha O. Becker, Ludger Woessmann), American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 3(3), 2011, 92-126. [DOI]


  • Human Capital, Technology Diffusion, and Economic Growth - Evidence from Prussian Census Data, ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung 46, 2012.


  • Bildung, Entwicklung und Nationsbildung im 19. Jahrhundert (with Sascha O. Becker and Francesco Cinnirella), in U. Pfister, J.-O. Hesse, M. Spoerer and N. Wolf (Eds.), 2021, Deutschland 1871: Die Nationalstaatsbildung und der Weg in die moderne Wirtschaft, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen

  • Land Inequality, Education, and Marriage: Theory and Empirical Evidence (with Francesco Cinnirella), in M. Cervellati and U. Sunde (Eds.), Demographic Change and Long Run Development, MIT Press, Cambridge (CESifo Working Paper No. 6072, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 1148)