Dr. Nathan Lane, Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Oxford. I work in political economy, development, & economic history.

I study comparative economic development, focusing on the role of politics, history 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 (2021) - Revise and Resubmit, Quarterly Journal of Economics

[Previously titled: Manufacturing Revolutions - Industrial Policy and Networks in South Korea, 2016]

- I study the impact of industrial policy on industrial development by considering a canonical intervention. Following a political crisis, South Korea dramatically altered its development strategy with a sector-specific industrial policy: the Heavy Chemical and Industry (HCI) drive, 1973-1979. With newly assembled historical data, I use the sharp introduction and withdrawal of industrial policies to study the impacts of industrial policy—during and after the intervention period. I show (1) HCI promoted the expansion and dynamic comparative advantage of directly targeted industries. (2) Using variation in exposure to policies through the input-output network, I show HCI indirectly benefited downstream users of targeted intermediates. (3) I find direct and indirect benefits of HCI persisted even after the end of HCI, following the 1979 assassination of the president. These effects include the eventual development of directly targeted exporters and their downstream counterparts. Together, my findings suggest that the temporary drive shifted Korea manufacturing into more advanced markets and created durable industrial change. These findings clarify lessons drawn from South Korea and the East Asian growth miracle.

The Value of Names - Civil Society, Information, and Governing Multinationals on the Global Periphery (December 2020) - with David Kreitmeir and Paul Raschky.

Quartz (DEEP IN THE HOLE -Markets are actually holding companies accountable for human rights violations). Mongabay (Environmental assassinations bad for business, new research shows). Oxford Arts Blog (Murder is bad for business - Oxford economics study). Monash Lens (Digging a deep hole: Why killing environmental activists is bad for business)

Abstract - Civil society is essential to governance, especially where laws and authority are weak. We study how a core strategy of international civil society groups - informing and publicizing human rights abuses - impacts those tied to abuse. Our study focuses on a major trend at the center of on-going international media campaigns: the assassination of civil society activists involved in mining activity. Collecting and coding 20 years of data on assassination events, we use Event Study Methodology to study how publicity of these events impact the asset prices of firms associated with abuse. We show that publicizing abuses has a significant impact on multinationals. Firms associated with an assassination have large, negative abnormal returns following the event. We calculate a median loss in market capitalisation of over 100 million USD, ten days following violence. We highlight the role of media publicity in our results. We show negative returns from assassinations are stronger during periods of low media pressure, versus when they coincide with competing newsworthy events. As well, we argue our results are driven by events where companies are explicitly named in media publicity, using a set of placebo events where no firms were identified by news coverage. Furthermore, we reject that our results are driven by other forms of unrest and conflict. Last, we show activist assassinations are positively related to the royalties paid by firms to domestic governments.

The New Empirics of Industrial Policy (2020) - Review article, requested for Dani Rodrik's volume of Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade.

Abstract - Nations have and will continue to shape their economies through industrial policy. Nevertheless, the empirical literature on these interventions is thin, dwarfed by the attention these policies receive by policymakers across the world. In this paper, I discuss the difficulties of empirically studying industrial policy, and review how new econometric work is confronting these issues. Through careful research design and attention to institutional detail, I argue that emergent evaluations are rapidly expanding what we know—and updating what we thought we knew—about these policies. This review is a proposal to take industrial interventions, along with all their complexities, more seriously as objects of inquiry. Doing so requires more serious evaluations of past policy, but also a reevaluation of prior empirical work and consensus.

Ungated version: SocArXiv


with Melissa Dell and Pablo Querubin. (2018). "The Historical State, Local Collective Action, and Economic Development in Vietnam." Econometrica, 2018, Vol.86(6), p.2083(39). [PDF here]

Lane, Nathan. (2020). The New Empirics of Industrial Policy. Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, 1(2), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10842-019-00323-2.
[Publisher's version: here]
[Un-gated SocArXiv version: here ]

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.]

  • 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

Advising & Research Assistantships?

If you're interested in data science research assistant opportunities and more, feel free to shoot me an email. Some programming knowledge required.

I am currently accepting graduate students (economics doctoral and masters) interested in industrial policy and political economy of development.

Social Media

(Econ) Twitter @straightedge