I'm a Professor in the Economics Department at George Mason University.

My research interests include:

  • The historical origins of modern liberal institutions. You can purchase my book (written with Mark Koyama) here: Persecution & Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom. Here is a link to the book's webpage.
  • The relationship between state capacity and economic growth.
  • The impact of environmental shocks on institutional change and economic outcomes.
  • Applied Econometrics with a particular emphasis on spatial data.

What’s New?

5-11-2022: The Board of Vistors has approved my promotion to Full Professor!

5-11-2022: I'm happy to be attending the Washington Political Economy Conference at Georgetown on 5/12 and 5/13. The program looks fantastic.

5-11-2022: I'm looking forward to traveling Northwestern from 5/19 to 5/21 to participate in a book conference on Walker Hanlon's new book "The Rise and Fall of Laissez Faire". I'm really enjoying reading it.

4-27-2022: Excited to present our new paper on The Impact of the Black Death on the Adoption of the Printing Press at Texas Tech for the Free Market Institute on Friday.

4-27-2022: Had a really great time presenting our research on The Impact of the Black Death on the Adoption of the Printing Press for the Center for Micro-Economic Policy Research on Tuesday.

4-27-2022: I really enjoyed giving a virtual talk (and meeting lots of interesting faculty) at the University of Connecticut on 4-12. I presented our research on The Impact of the Black Death on the Adoption of the Printing Press.

4-8-2022: I had a great time chatting with Jeffrey Lin for his podcast Densely Speaking. We talked about my recent paper with Remi Jedwab and Mark Koyama on Medieval Cities Through the Lend of Urban Economics that we published in Regional Science and Urban Economics. The podcast is here. My bit starts at 20:44.

9-20-2021: I recorded a podcast with Lipton Mathews of the the Mises Institute. It was a fun chat. Among other things, we covered withcraft trials and state capacity, medieval cities, and the secularization of schooling in Third Republic France. Here's the video of our conversation.

9-1-2021: I'm excited to be organizing the Public Choice Seminar here at GMU this year. The schedule for the Fall is settled and we have some great speakers coming out (even some in person!).

9-1-2021: My classes are all set to go this semester. I'm teaching Grad U.S. Economic History (syllabus) and Grad Spatial Techniques in Empirical Economics (syllabus).

8-20-2021: I was mentioned in an article on innovation, COVID, and the Black Death on NPR's Marketplace.

3-16-2021: I'll be presenting material from our survey of the Black Death in the Journal of Economic Literature in the Macrohistory Seminar on March 17th. Here is a link to the video of the event.

3-5-2021: Mark and I have published a blog post on the Broadstreet Blog titled "Paintings, Persecutions, and Political Development". It mixes up some art history with themes from our book, Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom.

1-2-2021: I'll be giving a talk at the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization located at the University of Colorado on The Church, the State, and the Origins of Religious Freedom on March 11. The talk will be based on my book (coauthored with Mark Koyama) Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom. You can learn more about the event and register for the livestream here.

12-20-2020: I'll be visiting at the Paris School of Economics later this Spring (assuming travel becomes possible again!).

12-18-2020: I'm excited to be on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Economics, Management, and Religion. Send in your papers!

12-15-2020: Sriya Iyer has written a very generous and helpful review of my book (with Mark Koyama) Perscution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom for the Journal of Economic Literature. The early-view is here.

12-15-2020: Metin Cosgel wrote a great review of my book (with Mark Koyama) Perscution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom for the Review of Austrian Economics. You can read it here.

12-1-2020: My research with Mark Koyama on religious violence and the origins of religious freedom was mentioned recently on the Ideas of India podcast during an episode discussing The Economics of Religion.

11-31-2020: Our paper on The Effects of Land Redistribution during the French Revolution has been accepted at the Journal of Law and Economics.

12-15-2020: Enjoyed presenting our research on the effects of the Black Death on the urban network for the Economics Department at the University of Colorado. The paper is here. The presentation is here.

10-1-2020: Our survey on ``The Effects of Historical Pandemics: The Black Death'' with Remi Jedwab and Mark Koyama has been accepted at The Journal of Economic Literature. You can read it here.

7-15-2020: Getting close to finishing up a survey on ``The Effects of Historical Pandemics: The Black Death'' with Remi Jedwab and Mark Koyama. It will be published as part of a four-paper symposium we've organized on The Effects of Historical Pandemics for The Journal of Economic Literature.

6-18-2020: Excited to be part of this year's IHS Summer Seminar on the classical liberal tradition. I’ll be speaking on June 20 at 4:45 EST on "Douglass North and the Hard Problem of Institutional Change". The seminar is free and all are welcomed.

6-18-2020: I'll be presenting our paper on "The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution" at the SIOE 2020 online conference on June 19.

6-1-2020: We've written a new paper surveying the role of cities during the medieval period. It should be coming out at some point in Regional Science and Urban Economics.

6-1-2020: We published a short piece on Voxeu summarizing our research on the Black Death and Jewish persecution.

4-2-2020: We've revised our paper on the effects of the Black Death on the urban network. The paper is here.

12-18-2019: I'm really looking forward to giving talks at Tulane on February 7 and Auburn on February 21 this upcoming semester!

12-18-2019: I'll be giving a talk on "Using GIS to Uncover the History of Persecution and Toleration in Europe?" for the Digital Scholarship Center at GMU on March 24. THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED TILL FALL

12-18-2019: I really enjoyed presenting material from Persecution and Toleration to the CRED group at Paris 2. My slides are here.

9-10-2019: I'll be visiting at the Paris School of Economics in December. Lot's of really interesting people at PSE who I look forward to hanging out with. And, of course, Paris is beautiful in the winter time.

9-10-2019: I'll be at the Economic History Association Meetings in Atlanta this weekend. Looking forward to seeing friends and hearing about research from new scholars.

9-3-2019: I'm looking forward to presenting my research on The Effects of Land Redistribution during the French Revolution at Bocconi University on October 25 for the Workshop on Politics, Social Mobility, and Inequality.

8-12-2019: The next iteration of the Washington Area Economic History and Development Workshop is coming up on August 23. It looks like a great program.

8-12-2019: I'm looking forward to attending and speaking at the upcoming Conference on Understanding State Capacity at the University of Manchester over Thanksgiving (sorry family!). Nuno Palma and Xiaobing Wang are doing a great job with the organization.

7-3-2019: Newsweek has just published my op-ed on what historical witchcraft trials can teach us about rule of law today.

7-3-2019: Vox has published our write-up of our research on the effects of the Black Death on long-run city growth.

7-3-2019: Cameron Harwick has written a great review of our book, Persecution and Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom on the Liberal Currents webpage.

7-3-2019: I'm looking forward to attending the NBER Summer Institute Urban Economics Workshop. We'll be presenting out work on the Back Death and City Growth.

3-28-2019: Had a great time presenting material from Mark Koyama’s and my book Persecution & Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom in the PPE Workshop here at GMU. Lot’s of great comments from the audience and just a really well organized event. Here’s a link to the slides for the presentation.

3-16-2019: Looking forward to discussing Timur Kuran’s new MS on under-development in the Middle East titled Freedoms Delayed in a book conference sponsored by the Mercatus Center this weekend.

3-5-2019: Mark and I just finished a Cato Unbound forum on Religious Freedom and the Modern State. It was lots of fun. Thanks to James Robinson, Dalibor Rohac, and Hans Eicholz for participating.

3-5-2019: My book with Mark Koyama, Persecution & Toleration: The Long Road to Religious Freedom, is now available for order on Amazon in the US (it’s already shipping in the UK). Here is an essay describing the main thesis of the book. Here are some presentation slides.

3-5-2019: I had a great time doing an interview with my colleague Tyler Cowen on his podcast Conversations with Tyler.

3-4-2019: Looking forward to attending the conference on Deep-Rooted Factors in Economic Development in May at Brown University. It’s a great group and always a rewarding discussion.

2-9-2019: I’ll be presenting my work on “Taxes, National Identity, and Nation Building: Evidence from France” at NYU-Abu Dhabi in Workshop on Historical Political Economy, March 15-17.

1-21-2019: I’ll be presenting our work on the effects of the Black Death on the urban network at Bocconi University in Milan on February 4. The paper is here.

1-21-2019: Our paper on the Black Death and Jewish Persecution has been accepted at the Journal of Economic Growth.