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Essays in Political Economy and Economic History


In my dissertation, I study labour market institutions and their effects on political behaviour, as well as economic forces behind discriminatory policies against ethnic minorities. In the first chapter, I study electoral intimidation in Russia during the most recent 2011--12 and 2016--18 electoral cycles using a novel and rich municipality- and company-level dataset. I find a robust relationship between employment concentration, turnout, and votes for the regime in parliamentary and presidential elections. I argue that a dominant employer in a municipality can coerce its employees to turn out and vote for the regime, because voters have limited options for outside employment. I identify a causal effect of employment concentration on turnout and voting.

In the second chapter, co-authored with Imil Nurutdinov, we study the political economy of discrimination against Jewish entrepreneurs in the late Imperial Russia. Prior to 1889, a large share of Russian private capital was invested in state and state-subsidized assets that yielded a fixed return and were deemed safe. After the government received access to new external sovereign debt markets with lower interest rates, it forcefully converted bonds on the domestic market. Combined with other policy changes between 1889 and 1894, this shock freed large amounts of domestic private capital that now had to be reinvested in the equity market. We explore the relationship between anti-Jewish restrictions in the equity market that began around the same time, in 1890, and capital intensity of 3-digit manufacturing industries (SIC). Russian law required all corporate charters to be approved by the central government, which was also used as an opportunity to target specific corporations and to preclude Jews from creating and/or investing in them. Using the RUSCORP database of all manufacturing corporations created in 1891--1902 (Owen, 1992) and novel data on the universe of Russian factories in 1890, we find a positive relationship between capital intensity and the probability of restrictions. We address some of the possible alternative explanations for the observed pattern using the data on major merchant guilds and incorporated factories.

In the third chapter, I investigate the empirical relationship between land inequality, employment concentration, the percentage of state employees and electoral results in the 1907 parliamentary election in Imperial Russia. The electoral process was two-step and classified voters into four different groups: peasants, workers, urban residents, and landowners. What were the electoral manipulation strategies of the tsarist regime back then? I argue that the regime relied on the power of landed elites, industrialists, and state employees to manipulate turnout and deliver votes in the parliamentary elections. I find that land inequality is positively associated with the turnout of peasants, which indicates the power of landowners in rural areas. Higher employment concentration, which indicates the power of industrialists, does not appear to affect the turnout of workers directly. However, higher employment concentration is negatively associated with the percentage of failed elections at factories. The share of state employees is positively associated with urban voter turnout. This could indicate electoral pressure on the state employees by the tsarist regime.

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