Department of Economics
2001 Sheridan Road Evanston, IL 60208
Postdoctoral fellow, Economics, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (2015-17)
Ph.D., Economics, University of Leuven, Belgium, December 2014
M.Sc., Economics, Bocconi University, Italy, 2009
M.Res., Economics, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 2009
B.Sc., Economics, Bocconi University, Italy, 2007
MA., Philosophy, University of Leuven, Belgium
Primary Fields of Specialization
Economic History, Applied Microeconomics
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This paper uses a historical setting to study when religion can be a barrier for diffusion of knowledge and economic development, and through which mechanism. I focus on 19th-century Catholicism and analyze a crucial phase of modern economic growth, the Second Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) in France. In this period, technology became skill-intensive, leading to the introduction of technical education in primary schools. At the same time, the Catholic Church was promoting a particularly anti-scientific program, and opposed the adoption of a technical curriculum. Using data collected from primary and secondary sources, I exploit preexisting variation in intensity of Catholicism (i.e., religiosity) among the different French districts. I show that, despite a stable spatial distribution of religiosity over time (from 1788 to the 1950s), more religious districts had lower economic development only during the Second Industrial Revolution, but not before. Schooling appears to be the key mechanism: in more Catholic areas there was a slower introduction of a technical curriculum, and instead a push for religious education. Religious education, in turn, was negatively associated with industrial development about 10-15 years later, when school-aged children would enter the labor market, and this negative relationship was more pronounced in skill-intensive industrial sectors.
“Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment” (with N. Voigtländer). Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2015, 30(4): 1825-83.
“Global hunger: Food crisis spurs aid for poverty” (with A. Guariso and J. Swinnen). Nature, 2013, 501 (7468): 492.
“Mixed Messages on Prices and Food Security” (with J. Swinnen). Science, 2012, 335(6067): 405- 406.
“Supply Chains and Economic Development: Insights from the Indian Dairy Sector” (with E. Janssen, J. Swinnen, and A. Vandeplas). Food Policy, forthcoming.
“Governance Quality and Net Migration Flows” (with A. Ariu and F. Docquier). Regional Science and Urban Economics, 2016, 60: 238–248.
“Food Price Shocks and the Political Economy of Global Agricultural and Development Policy” (with A. Guariso and J. Swinnen). Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, 2014, 36(3): 387-415. Outstanding Journal Article Award.
“The Balance of Brains: Corruption and High Skilled Migration” (with A. Ariu). EMBO Reports, 2013, 14: 502-504.
“The Food Crisis, Mass Media and the Political Economy of Policy Analysis and Communication” (with J. Swinnen and T. Vandemoortele). European Review of Agricultural Economics, 2011, 38(3): 409-426.
The Economics of Chocolate (with J. Swinnen). Oxford University Press, 2016.
“Knowledge Elites and Modernization: Evidence from Revolutionary France” (with N. Voigtländer). NBER Working Paper 22779
Work in Progress
“Firm Dynamics and Productivity Growth during the Industrial Revolution” – NSF Project, 2016-2019 (with Reka Juhasz and Nico Voigtländer)