Working Papers

Overkill, Extinction, and the Neolithic Revolution (Job Market Paper)


This research explores the biogeographical origins of the emergence and diffusion of agriculture. I develop a model showing that large-herbivore extinction decreased hunting gains and permitted an earlier agricultural transition. It also shows that mammals’ biological vulnerability increased the extinction risk and promoted an earlier transition. To test the predictions, I construct a novel measure of the loss of hunting resources resulting from mammal extinction. Using multiple datasets and exploiting the biological vulnerability as an instrument for the extinction, the research establishes a positive impact of the extinction on the timing and the likelihood of the agricultural transition. It also shows a persistent effect of the prehistoric extinction on socioeconomic development that lasted until the preindustrial period.

The Horse, Battles, and The State: Military Origins of Autocracy


This study explores the military origins of the state, battles, and autocracy, highlighting the significant role of the horse. It utilizes several exogenous factors in the development of cavalry, including the spread of metal bits, environmental conditions favoring native horses, and the increased availability of horses in the Americas following the Columbian Exchange. Using various complementary data sets and these exogenous variations, the research shows the adoption of cavalry fostered state formation, battles, and the evolution of autocratic institutions. Additionally, it highlights a persistent impact on autocracy, demonstrating a complementary relationship between an autocratic institution and cultural attitudes toward it.

Biogeographical Origins of Risk Preference


This paper explores the biogeographical origins of differences in risk preference across regions and individuals. The theory shows that individuals whose ancestors lived in regions that had abundant hunting resources tend to be more risk averse. Such regions attracted even risk-averse individuals and thus the population became more risk averse. To test the hypothesis, I construct a novel measure of megaherbivore biomass. I find that this measure is a strong predictor of hunting dependency in traditional societies. I show that, consistent with the theory, descendants of inhabitants of regions characterized by larger megaherbivore biomass have higher risk aversion.

Work in Progress

American Prosperity: The Role of Upper-Tail Human Capital

Human Admixture: The Short- and Long-Run Impacts on Development