Did The Great Levelling Begin After 1921? (with Vincent Geloso and Jacob Hall): The U-Curve of income inequality in the United States is a longstanding stylized fact in economic history. The “Great Levelling” that led to the trough that lasted from the 1940s to the early 1980s is argued by scholars like Piketty and Saez (2003) to have happened precipitously during the 1940s whereas others like Geloso et al. (2022) argue that it was a gradual levelling that began with the Great Depression. In this paper, we argue that large regional price level differences make it hard to measure “real” inequality levels. More importantly, as these price differences collapsed in the first half of the 20th century, the trends in “real” income inequality could be far different than those using “nominal” income. Adjusting income levels from 1921 to 1941 for regional price levels shows a faster decline in inequality during the period. We argue that this indicates that the Great Levelling was a gradual process than began far earlier than the 1940s. (UNDER REVIEW)
Peace and its correlates in the ancient world (with Jordan Adamson): In this paper, we construct and analyze a database of warfare around the Mediterranean from 600 to 30 BCE. We first summarize the main empirical patterns across space and time, documenting that battles are not a rare event. Then we examine two main explanations for international peace: democracy and hegemony. We find no democratic peace among Ancient Greek city-states. We also find mixed results, both inside and outside of Greece, about how war relates to state power.
Works in Progress
Blood and Iron: State Building in the Ancient Mediterranean: An investigation into the different political equilibria and state-building observed during the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Spanish Catholic Missions in New Spain: Effects on Economic Development of Native Americans: Spanish missionaries brought Catholic social practices (forcefully) to Native Americans on the missions. Disrupted social networks are a negative shock to potential economic relationships. I examine whether these forced social institutions had an effect on the short- and long-run development of Native Americans in the United States.
The Dark Side of Nation Building: The Reconquista and the Spanish Inquisition (with Jacob Hall): In the fifteenth century many European states were engaging in nation-building projects. Spain is no exception. Spain, however, is a case in the dark side of nation-building. We argue that the Spanish Inquisition was a strategy embarked on by the government to facilitate homogenization amongst its citizenry. Using municipality level data on inquisition trials, we demonstrate the spatial distribution of the Inquisition is largely determined by the length of time a municipality was under Islamic rule during the Spanish Reconquista. Inquisitional intensity is greater in locations that were under Islamic rule for a longer span of time. To establish causality, we rely on regression discontinuity, using the furthest extent of Islamic territory.
Research in Progress
Relationship between ancient trade and religion
Adam Smith on Polygamy and Kin Networks @ Adam Smith Works. Link here.