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We study the effects of the adoption of new agricultural technologies on structural transformation. To guide empirical work, we present a simple model where the effect of agriculturalproductivity on industrial development depends on the factor bias of technical change. We test the predictions of the model by studying the introduction of genetically engineered soybean seeds in Brazil, which had heterogeneous effects on agricultural productivity across areas with different soil and weather characteristics. We find that technical change in soy production was strongly labor saving and led to industrial growth, as predicted by the model.

Finance and the Diffusion of Digital Technologies

In 2008 received the Angelo Costa Award and it was published in the Rivista di Politica Economica 98(6):79-122.


The paper examines how different dimensions of financial development have influenced firms’ willingness to adopt new digital technologies  (IT). To do so, it introduces an econometric analysis based on an Error Correction Model run over a panel of fifteen industrialized countries. The results point to the importance of stock market development and suggest that market-based systems encourage digital investments better than bank-based ones. The evidence is consistent with theories that stress the effective selection of projects carried out by stock markets and the positive role that new financial tools traded within these markets had on IT adoption.

Working Papers


Can the adoption of labor-saving technology lead to social instability and unrest? We examine a canonical historical case, the so-called ‘Captain Swing’ riots in 1830s Britain. Variously attributed to the adverse consequences of weather shocks, the shortcomings of the Poor Law, or the after-effects of enclosure, we emphasize the importance of a new technology – the threshing machine. Invented in the 1780s, it spread during and after the Napoleonic Wars. Using farm adverisements from newspapers published in 66 English and Welsh towns, we compile a new measure of the technology’s diffusion. Parishes with ads for threshing machines had much higher riot probabilities in 1830 – and the relationship was even stronger for machine-breaking attacks. Threshing machines were mainly useful in wheat-growing areas. To establish a causal role for labor-saving technology, we instrument technology adoption with the FAO measure of soil suitability for wheat, and show that this in turn predicts unrest.


We exploit a Brazilian tax reform to study the productivity losses caused by taxes on turnover, a type of tax that distorts transactions between rms and that is common in developing countries. We build a model in which many sectors exchange inputs sequentially before delivering nal goods, and show that distortions to trade between rms are ampli ed by the \\number of stages of production”. We calibrate the model to the Brazilian economy and compute the productivity gains of the reform. We nd that considering production processes that have 11 or more stages of production leads to estimated productivity gains of removing the turnover tax more than 4 times larger than considering production processes where rms exchange inputs only once. When production requires an in nite number of stages the gains of the reform are maximized and they are equal to around 0.05% of national income.

Team Visibility and City Travel Evidence from the UEFA Champions League Random Draw.

dyreg: Stata code to compute dyadic standard errors on an incomplete network (adapted from Marcel Fafchamps’ ngreg)


Does hosting a sports team boost the visibility of a city amongtourists? I test this proposition by looking at the effect of playingsoccer’s UEFA Champions League on air travel. I compare routes across cities that had their teams randomly drawn into the same group in the first phase of the competition to routes across cities hosting teams randomly allocated to different groups. The average effect of being drawn into the same group is between 5 and 8 percent more arrivals for the three months following the group stage, a period which coincides with a break in the competition.