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State Capacity and Public Goods: Institutional Change, Human Capital, and Growth in Early Modern Germany
What are the origins and consequences of the state as a provider of public goods? We study legal reforms that established mass public education and increased state capacity in German cities during the 1500s. These fundamental changes in public goods provision occurred where ideological competition during the Protestant Reformation interacted with popular politics at the local level. We document that cities that formalized public goods provision in the 1500s began differentially producing and attracting upper tail human capital and grew to be significantly larger in the long-run. We study ...
The Future of Labor: Automation and the Labor Share in the Second Machine Age
We study the effect of modern automation on firm-level labor shares using a 2018 survey of 1,618 manufacturing firms in China. We exploit geographic and industry variation built into the design of subsidies for automation paid under a vast government industrialization program, “Made In China 2025,” to construct an instrument for automation investment. We use a canonical CES framework of automation and develop a novel methodology to structurally estimate the elasticity of substitution between labor and automation capital among automating firms, which for our preferred specification is 3.8. ...