“Immigration and the Diffusion of Technology: The Huguenot Diaspora in Prussia,” E. Hornung (2014)

Initially I wanted to write about this interesting paper here. One part of my family descends from Huguenot immigrants to Königsberg/Prussia. So it has a very personal notion to me too. But then found out that Kevin Bryan already has a post about it to which I have not much to add.

A Fine Theorem

Is immigration good for natives of the recipient country? This is a tough question to answer, particularly once we think about the short versus long run. Large-scale immigration might have bad short-run effects simply because more L plus fixed K means lower average incomes in essentially any economic specification, but even given that fact, immigrants bring with them tacit knowledge of techniques, ideas, and plans which might be relatively uncommon in the recipient country. Indeed, world history is filled with wise leaders who imported foreigners, occasionally by force, in order to access their knowledge. As that knowledge spreads among the domestic population, productivity increases and immigrants are in the long-run a net positive for native incomes.

How substantial can those long-run benefits be? History provides a nice experiment, described by Erik Hornung in a just-published paper. The Huguenots, French protestants, were largely expelled from France after the Edict of Nantes…

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Trust in Both European and National Institutions is Dangerously Low

Jean-Claude Trichet was visiting ZEW this week and talked about governance in the euro area and the reasons for the sovereign debt crisis. Most of his points we’re not very new to his audience. I guess that’s a good thing and means that by now we have a large consensus about what went wrong. Continue reading Trust in Both European and National Institutions is Dangerously Low

How We Started to Study Technological Change

In 1957, Zvi Griliches published a seminal article in innovation economics (Hybrid Corn: An Exploration in the Economics of Technological Change“), which is based on his PhD thesis. It is safe to say that this piece stands at the beginning of innovation developing into an independent subfield of economics. Besides that, Griliches was also a pioneer in modern style econometric work. In this paper you can clearly see why. It’s a marvellous combination of policy relevant work–he collected a novel data set on US corn production of the time–and advancement in economic theory. Continue reading How We Started to Study Technological Change

EEA Mannheim 2015

Late summer is conference time. I’ll be travelling around a fair bit in the next weeks. At the moment, there is the annual congress of the European Economic Association here in Mannheim. Many of the leading economists of all disciplines are attending. The highlight will certainly be this year’s Nobel session by Jean Tirole from Toulouse. Whenever time allows I will share some of the papers that particularly caught my attention. Here are two from the first day: Continue reading EEA Mannheim 2015

Dark Age of Tsarism

From the epilogue of my German translation of Dostoyevsky’s “White Nights” (“Белые ночи”):

Verbitterung bestimmte das Verhältnis vieler Intellektueller gegenüber dem Regime des Zaren Nikolaj I., der mit einem gewaltigen Polizei- und Spitzelapparat seine Doktrin von Autokratie, Orthodoxie und nationalem Patriotismus verteidigte […].

My loose translation:

Bitterness characterized the relations of many intellectuals with Tsar Nicholas I’s regime who defended his doctrine of autocracy, orthodoxy and national patriotism with an enormous apparatus of policemen and spies.

This doctrine with its three cornerstones seems to be all too familiar looking at what’s happening nowadays.

And most likely, many Russians wouldn’t even object. Once I talked to a guy of my age who was playing in an indie band and living in St Petersburg. He believed that Russia would need a new Tsar who could run the country (these were his exact words). Well, we’re getting there, if you ask me.