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 Networks in South Korea

- This paper uses a historic big push intervention with digitized data from South Korea to study the effects of industrial policy on (short- and long-run) industrial development. In 1973 South Korea transitioned to a military dictatorship and drastically changed their development strategy. I find industries targeted by the regime's big push grew significantly more than non-targeted industries along several key dimensions of industrial development. These developmental effects persisted after industrial policies were retrenched, following the 1979 assassination of the president. Furthermore, I estimate the spillovers of the industrial policies using exogenous variation in the exposure to the policy across the input-output network. I find evidence of persistent pecuniary externalities like those posited by big push development theorists, such as Albert Hirschman. In other words, I find that South Korea’s controversial industrial policy was successful in producing industrial development, the benefits of which persisted through time and in industries not directly targeted by the policies.

The New Empirics of Industrial Policy

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