Assistant Professor of Economics at Tulane University

Patrick A. Testa


"Education and propaganda: Tradeoffs to public education provision in nondemocracies,"  Journal of Public Economics, 2018, 160: 66-81.

Abstract: Nondemocratic regimes face a tradeoff when investing in public education. Education promotes human capital acquisition, expanding the tax base. Yet it also enhances political sophistication and participation, at a cost to nondemocratic regimes. Propaganda disseminated through the education system can relax this tradeoff. I show that even Bayesian citizens can be influenced by propaganda. By deterring political opposition, it can induce nondemocracies to provide education where they otherwise would not. As such, propaganda can improve social welfare. When propaganda is too strong, however, it can generate a backlash. Using cross-country and survey data, I find evidence consistent with the predictions.


Download: Draft, Supplemental material, Replication files

Working Papers

"The economic legacy of expulsion: Lessons from postwar Czechoslovakia," Under Review.

Abstract: This paper examines the long-run effects of forced migration on the origin economy, using Czechoslovakia's postwar German expulsions. For identification, I use the discontinuity at the border of the "Sudetenland" region where Germans lived. Since Germans had similar characteristics to Czechs, this bypasses factors that might drive effects elsewhere, such as differences in human capital and geography. The expulsion produced persistent differences in population density, sector composition, and education between neighboring municipalities. I trace effects to a selective resettlement of affected areas, generating de-urbanization and human capital decline. Empirical and historical evidence suggest agglomeration economies and extractive institutions as two important forces driving this response.


Download: Draft, Supplemental material, Replication files, GIS files

"Shocks and the spatial distribution of economic activity: The role of institutions," Under Review.

Abstract: Why do some historical shocks permanently impact local development, while others do not? This paper examines how formal institutions influence local recovery to population shocks, using a model with multiple regions and increasing returns to economic activity within regions. Extractive institutions crowd out productive activity, making its spatial coordination more difficult in the aftermath of large, negative shocks. Hence, when one region experiences such a shock, extractive institutions can hinder recovery, ensuring a redistribution of productive activity away from that region over the long-run. Using a dataset of major earthquakes and 1860 world cities from 1973 to 2018, I find persistent, negative effects of earthquakes on city population growth. Moreover, I find these effects are driven by cities located outside of stable democracies.


Download: Draft, Supplemental material, Replication files

Works in Progress

"Nation-building and state-building: National identification, state capacity, and economic performance" (with Stergios Skaperdas).

"Resource blessing? The Oil Age roots of religiosity in the U.S. South."

Copyright © 2019 Patrick A. Testa.