The paper studies whether a drought in 1788 impacted political outcomes during the French Revolution. I construct a community-level data set with information on local drought severity and local political outcomes in 1789. Results indicate that the drought had political impacts: 1) Those more affected by the drought more often participated in peasant revolts against the feudal system; and 2) they had higher demand for institutional change as expressed in the 'lists of grievances'. The results provide evidence on specific ways in which the drought impacted the French Revolution, a milestone in the democratization of Western Europe. They also contribute to our understanding of the political impacts of weather shocks, one of the defining features of climate change.

Revisions requested Journal of Economic Growth

CESifo Working Paper No. 9742

joint with Marc Fabel, Matthias Flückiger, Markus Ludwig, Helmut Rainer, and Sebastian Wichert

We study the impact of the „Fridays for Future” climate protest movement in Germany on citizen political behavior and explore possible mechanisms. Throughout 2019, large crowds of young protesters, the majority of whom were under voting age, skipped school to demand immediate and far-reaching climate change mitigation measures. We first construct a spatially and temporally highly disaggregated measure of protest participation based on cell phone-based mobility data and hand-collected information on nearly 4,000 climate protests. Then, using various empirical strategies to address the issue of nonrandom protest participation, we show that the local strength of the climate movement led to more Green Party votes in state-level and national-level elections during 2019 and after. We provide evidence suggesting that three mechanisms were simultaneously at play: reverse intergenerational transmission of pro-environmental attitudes from children to parents, stronger climate-related social media presence by Green Party politicians, and increased coverage of environmental issues in local media. Together, our results suggest that environmental protests by those too young to vote provide some of the impetus that is needed to push society toward overcoming the climate trap.  



Journal of Development Economics 127, 355-378

This paper examines the long-run effects of different Catholic missionary orders in colonial Mexico on educational outcomes and Catholicism. The main missionary orders in colonial Mexico were all Catholic, but they belonged to different monastic traditions and adhered to different values. Mendicant orders were committed to poverty and sought to reduce social inequality in colonial Mexico by educating the native population. The Jesuit order, by contrast, focused educational efforts on the colony's elite in the city centers, rather than on the native population in rural mission areas. Using a newly constructed data set of the locations of 1,145 missions in colonial Mexico, I test whether long-run development outcomes differ among areas that had Mendicant missions, Jesuit missions, or no missions. Results indicate that areas with historical Mendicant missions have higher present-day literacy rates, and higher rates of educational attainment at primary, secondary and post-secondary levels than regions without a mission. Results show that the share of Catholics is higher in regions where Catholic missions of any kind were a historical present. Additional results suggest that missionaries may have affected long-term development by impacting people's access to and valuation of education.

Please get in touch if you are interested in the data I collected or the methods I am using.

Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2016


Some climate change is now inevitable and strategies to adapt to these changes are quickly developing. The question is particularly paramount for low-income countries, which are likely to be most affected.

Accepted by the Journal of Political Economy


Recent studies have consistently found important economic effects of year-to-year weather fluctuations. I study the economic effects of long-term and gradual climate change over a 250-year period in the Little Ice Age (1600-1850), during which people and economies had time to adapt. Results show significant negative economic effects of long-term climate change. In further results, I examine mechanisms through which climate affected the economy. Results show that temperature impacted the economy through its effect on agricultural productivity, mortality, and migration. I also explore adaptation to climate change and find that economies increased trade and changed land use in response to the Little Ice Age. Cities with good access to trade were significantly less affected. I discuss the relevance of these results for understanding the impact of today's climate change, especially in developing countries.



References and Links to Papers

January 25, 2025



joint with Leander Andres, Marc Fabel, Matthias Flückiger, Markus Ludwig, Helmut Rainer, and Sebastian Wichert

ifo Schnelldienst, 2022, 75, Nr. 05, 28-33

Gegen unzureichende Klimapolitik und für konkrete Klimaschutzmaßnahmen protestieren seit 2019 hunderttausende junge, oft noch nicht wahlberechtigte Menschen unter demDach der sogenannten Fridays-for-Future Bewegung. Ob und wenn ja, wie sich lokale Proteste und Schulstreiks auf Landtags-, Bundestags- und Europawahlergebnisse in Deutschland von 2019 bis 2021 ausgewirkt haben, untersuchen wir in diesem Beitrag. Um die Stärke der Protestbewegung und deren geografische Verteilung verorten zu können, wurde mit Hilfe mobilfunkbasierter Mobilitäts-, Schulstreik- und Niederschlagsdaten ein validiertes Streikpartizipationsmaß für alle Wahlen und Landkreise in Deutschland entwickelt. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigen u.a., dass höhere regionale Streikpartizipation zu einem Stimmengewinn für die Grünen und einem massiven Stimmenverlust für die AfD führt. Ein wichtiger Wirkungskanal hierbei scheint die Übertragung von Klima- und Umweltbewusstsein von (nicht-wahlberechtigten, demonstrierenden) Kindern auf ihre (wahlberechtigten, nicht demonstrierenden) Eltern zu sein. Die hier vorliegende methoden- und datenintensive Analyse ist zudem ein Beispiel für die neue, innovative Forschungsrichtung »Big Data Economics«.