Ph.D. Candidate in Government, Harvard University; Dissertation Workshop Coordinator, EHPS Graduate Advisor & Graduate Student Affiliate, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
Matthias Quinkhardt is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in economics whose research interests are in labor economics and political economy, especially on the causes and effectiveness of policies addressing regional inequalities in economic activity. This paper is supposed to be the final chapter of his dissertation and aims to examine one potential cause of regional differences in economic activity, the loss of manpower and human capital in Germany in World War I.
Quinkhardt's paper analyzes the effect of war losses in World War I on local economic development. It combines a newly-geocoded data set of the birthplaces of 8.5 million German soldiers in WWI with census data on agricultural landholdings, industry structure, employment, and technology adoption at the county level. Exploiting quasi-exogenous variation in the intensity of casualties between counties, the paper finds that regions with higher casualties experienced a higher concentration of landholdings after the war. In line with this result, self-employment decreases and formerly self-employed individuals move into wage employment. To compensate for losses in male labor supply, both female employment and usage of labor-saving technologies increased.