James J. Feigenbaum

Department of Economics
Boston University
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: DAE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: Boston University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2019Automated Linking of Historical Data
with Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson, Santiago Pérez: w25825
The recent digitization of complete count census data is an extraordinary opportunity for social scientists to create large longitudinal datasets by linking individuals from one census to another or from other sources to the census. We evaluate different automated methods for record linkage, performing a series of comparisons across methods and against hand linking. We have three main findings that lead us to conclude that automated methods perform well. First, a number of automated methods generate very low (less than 5%) false positive rates. The automated methods trace out a frontier illustrating the tradeoff between the false positive rate and the (true) match rate. Relative to more conservative automated algorithms, humans tend to link more observations but at a cost of higher rates o...
December 2018Capital Destruction and Economic Growth: The Effects of Sherman's March, 1850-1920
with James Lee, Filippo Mezzanotti: w25392
Using General William Sherman’s 1864–65 military march through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina during the American Civil War, this paper studies the effect of capital destruction on medium and long-run local economic activity, and the role of financial markets in the recovery process. We match an 1865 US War Department map of Sherman’s march to county-level demographic, agricultural, and manufacturing data from the 1850-1920 US Censuses. We show that the capital destruction induced by the March led to a large contraction in agricultural investment, farming asset prices, and manufacturing activity. Elements of the decline in agriculture persisted through 1920. Using information on local banks and access to credit, we argue that the underdevelopment of financial markets played a ...
Regional and Racial Inequality in Infectious Disease Mortality in U.S. Cities, 1900-1948
with Christopher Muller, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field: w25345
In the first half of the twentieth century, the rate of death from infectious disease in the United States fell precipitously. Although this decline is well-known and well-documented, there is surprisingly little evidence about whether it took place uniformly across the regions of the U.S. We use data on infectious disease deaths from all reporting U.S. cities to describe regional patterns in the decline of urban infectious mortality from 1900 to 1948. We report three main results: First, urban infectious mortality was higher in the South in every year from 1900 to 1948. Second, infectious mortality declined later in southern cities than in cities in the other regions. Third, comparatively high infectious mortality in southern cities was driven primarily by extremely high infectious mortal...
January 2018From the Bargaining Table to the Ballot Box: Political Effects of Right to Work Laws
with Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Vanessa Williamson: w24259
Labor unions directly affect wages, employment, industrial structure, and inequality. But unions also influence the economy and labor market indirectly through their effects on politics, providing candidates with voters, volunteers, and contributions, and lobbying on public policy. We use the enactment of right-to-work laws---which weaken unions by removing agency shop protections---to estimate the effect of unions on politics and policy from 1980-2016. Comparing counties on either side of a state and right-to-work border to causally identify the effects of the state laws, we find that right-to-work laws reduce Democratic Presidential vote shares by 3.5 percentage points. We find similar effects in Senate, House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as on state legislative control. Turnout is ...
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