I study comparative economic development, focusing on the role of politics and the state. I'm particularly interested in industrial policy.

I enjoy using
statistical learning and computational tools to work with old, messy, and unstructured data.

Current Work

Manufacturing Revolutions - Industrial Policy and Industrialization in South Korea (2019)

[Previously titled: Manufacturing Revolutions - Industrial Policy and Networks in South Korea]

- I study the impact of industrial policy on industrial development through a canonical intervention. Following a political crisis in 1972, South Korea dramatically altered its development strategy with a new sector-specific policy: the Heavy Chemical and Industry (HCI) drive. With newly digitized data, I use the sharp introduction and withdrawal of HCI trade policy and investment incentives to study its impacts. (1) I show HCI successfully promoted the evolution of directly treated industries. Next I provide evidence for two key justifications of industrial policy: network and dynamic externalities. (2) Using variation in exposure to policies through the input-output network, I show HCI indirectly benefited (non-treated) downstream industry. (3) Finally, I show both direct and indirect benefits of HCI persist even after the policy is withdrawn, following the 1979 assassination of President Park. Together, my findings suggest that the temporary drive helped shift the economy into higher value-added activity.

The New Empirics of Industrial Policy (2019)

Abstract - Nations have and will continue to shape their economic destinies through industrial policy. Nevertheless, the literature on industrial policy is thin, dwarfed by the attention these policies receive by policymakers across the world. I review the empirical issues surrounding these interventions, emphasizing how new microeconometric work confronts these issues. This review is a proposal to take these interventions—along with all their complexities—more seriously as objects of inquiry. Doing so requires serious evaluations of past policy, but also reevaluation of past consensus.


with Melissa Dell and Pablo Querubin. (2018). "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam." Econometrica.

Work in Progress

  • Information is Power - Monopoly Power, Technology, and the Rise of the Digital State - with Weijia Li

  • Mapping the Digital State - with Klaus Ackerman, Simon Angus, Weijia Li, and Paul Raschky [And related projects.]

  • Market Returns and Assassinations of Environmental Activists - Evidence from the Developing World - with David Kreitmeir and Paul Raschky

  • Managing Export-led Industrialization - Evidence from South Korea's Export Promotion Meetings - with Changkeun Lee

  • Labor Repression, Democracy, and Growth in South Korea - with Daron Acemoglu and Changkeun Lee

Upcoming Talks

  • UNSW Dept. of Economics - October 3rd

  • OzClio 2019 - Sydney October 4th

  • University of Technology Sydney - October 9th.

  • Geneva - Graduate Institute and UN October TBA

  • Paris School of Economics - October TBA


Phone (Australia) +61 (0)399032384
Email nathaniel.lane@monash.edu
Office hours (email me)

Social Media

(Econ) Twitter @straightedge