Job Market Paper

Social Fractionalization and Economic Development: Evidence from the Korean New Village Movement

Abstract: Social fractionalization along dimensions like ethnicity or class can stunt economic development. This paper investigates how fractionalization affects a group's ability to respond to economic shocks by studying rural South Korea in the 1970s. Social groups in rural Korea were defined by one dominant characteristic: extended kin network identified by family name. Some villages displayed high homogeneity, with up to 90% of households sharing the same family name. This unique social context offers a reliable measure of social fractionalization that is otherwise difficult to measure. I combine this cross-sectional variation with the time variation in market access created by the construction of a new bridge, the Namhae bridge, in 1973. I find that homogeneous villages displayed higher agricultural investments and productivity growth than heterogeneous villages following the bridge construction. Homogeneous villages capitalized on the opportunities created by the bridge by providing complementary local public goods more effectively than heterogeneous villages. This paper highlights the critical role of social homogeneity in enhancing a community's ability to capitalize on new opportunities in the face of external shocks, such as improved market access.

Slides: To be posted

Evolution of Rice Production in Rural Korea in the 1970s

Working Papers

A “Godsend” Software Bug: the Y2K Bug and IT Sector Growth in India

Research Question: Does a temporary labor demand shock have persistent effects on firms and education?

Abstract: The Y2K bug refers to the problem when old computer programs misinterpret the year 2000 for 1900. During the months following up to January of 2000, governments and companies worldwide started outsourcing debugging tasks to companies in India. The Y2K bug created a temporary demand shock for Indian IT firms. I use this variation in exports to examine how it affects firm productivity in the long run. I also investigate the responses in the secondary education market. I find that (1) the "exposed" firms have significantly higher sales and wages even after the shock had dissipated and that (2) the districts that had more exposed firms experienced a significant increase in the number of private secondary schools where English is the primary medium of instruction.

Number of IT Firms in India and Private Secondary Schools 

Work in Progress

How Crony was Korea's "Crony Capitalism"?

Research Question: Do family ties explain the allocation of government funds?