Stephan Heblich

Department of Economics
University of Bristol
8 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TN

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2018Leadership and Social Norms: Evidence from the Forty-Eighters in the Civil War
with Christian Dippel: w24656
A growing theoretical literature emphasizes the role that leaders play in shaping beliefs and social norms. We provide empirical evidence for such ‘civic leadership.’ We focus on the Forty-Eighters, a group of political refugees from Germany's failed 1848 revolutions, and their role in the struggle for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Our primary outcome is volunteering for the Union Army. Given the enormously high death toll during the Civil War, this variable provides a powerful measure of social norms against slavery. We show that towns where Forty-Eighters settled in the 1850s increased their Union Army enlistments by eighty percent over the course of the war. Using machine-learning techniques to infer soldiers' ancestry, we find that the Forty-Eighters had the biggest i...
March 2017Instrumental Variables and Causal Mechanisms: Unpacking The Effect of Trade on Workers and Voters
with Christian Dippel, Robert Gold, Rodrigo Pinto: w23209
Instrumental variables (IV) are a common means to identify treatment effects. But standard IV methods do not allow us to unpack the complex treatment effects that arise when a treatment and its outcome together cause a second outcome of interest. For example, IV methods have been used to show that import exposure to low-wage countries has adversely affected Western labor markets. Similarly, they have been used to show that import exposure has increased voter polarization. However, standard IV cannot estimate to what extent the latter is a consequence of the former. This paper proposes a new identification framework that allows us to do so, appealing to one additional identifying assumption without requiring additional instruments. The added identifying assumption can be relaxed, and bounds...
November 2016Fear of Fracking? The Impact of the Shale Gas Exploration on House Prices in Britain
with Steve Gibbons, Esther Lho, Christopher Timmins: w22859
Shale gas has grown to become a major new source of energy in countries around the globe. While its importance for energy supply is well recognized, there has also been public concern over potential risks such as damage to buildings and contamination of water supplies caused by geological disturbance from the hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) extraction process. Although commercial development has not yet taken place in the UK, licenses for drilling were issued in 2008 implying potential future development. This paper examines whether public fears about fracking are evident in changes in house prices in areas that have been licensed for shale gas exploration. Our estimates suggest differentiated effects. Licensing did not affect house prices but fracking the first well in 2011, which cause...
December 2015Globalization and Its (Dis-)Content: Trade Shocks and Voting Behavior
with Christian Dippel, Robert Gold: w21812
We identify the causal effect of trade-integration with China and Eastern Europe on voting in Germany from 1987 to 2009. Looking at the entire political spectrum, we find that only extreme-right parties respond significantly to trade integration. Their vote share increases with import competition and decreases with export access opportunities. We unpack mechanisms using reduced form evidence and a causal mediation analysis. Two-thirds of the total effect of trade integration on voting appears to be driven by observable labor market adjustments, primarily changes in manufacturing employment. These results are mirrored in an individual-level analysis in the German Socioeconomic Panel.
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