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Essays in Political Economy: Historical Natural Experiments and Economic Development

Asmus, Gerda

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This thesis consists of three chapters.

State Capacity, National Economic Policies and Local Development: The Russian State in the Southern Urals Abstract: This study analyzes how state capacity shapes the local impact of national policies by exploiting a quasi-natural experiment in the regional expansion of the state. It uses the local discontinuity created by the boundary of the largest peasant rebellion in 18th century Russia where the state increased security forces and levied taxes more efficiently after the uprising ended. The results show that increased state capacity had limited effects on economic growth until the central government targeted specific development objectives. Namely, when rulers chose to build schools or foster industrialization, their national policies benefited areas which already had strong state capacity.

Political Elites and Civic Engagement: The Russian Empire's First Revolution 1825 Abstract: This study investigates whether the promotion of liberal ideology can have a lasting impact on contemporary behavior, by exploiting the random exile settlements of an educated elite to the Russian Empire's 'Hinterland' as a quasi-natural experiment. It uses the locations of the failed Decembrist insurgents sent to Siberia and other remote areas of Russia, and matches them with the household locations of contemporary surveys. The results show that individuals that live within 10 km proximity of at least one Decembrist' exile location, are more likely to participate in informal and formal political activities, and are more inclined toward liberal values.

Independence Movements and Ethnic Politics: The Mau Mau Origins of Ethnic Voting and Distrust in Kenya Abstract: This study examines the effects of the violent repression of independence movements on ethnic politics and social cohesion. We exploit local variation in the intensity of repression to analyze the long-run impacts of British detention camps in 1950s colonial Kenya. Using a rich body of census and survey data and a triple-difference design, we show that exposure to a detention camp increases ethnic voting in the contested 2007 presidential election and erodes contemporary trust. In addition, we show that affected individuals accumulate less wealth, are less literate, and have poorer labor market outcomes three to five decades after the event.

Document type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Dreher, Prof. Dr. Axel
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 27 October 2022
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 08:28
Date: 2022
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Economics and Social Studies > Alfred-Weber-Institut for Economics
DDC-classification: 300 Social sciences
320 Political science
330 Economics
Controlled Keywords: Wirtschaftspolitik, Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Wirtschaftsentwicklung
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