Diplom VWL (Bonn), PhD (EUI Florence)
Professor Sascha O. Becker is Xiaokai Yang Chair of Business and Economics at Monash University, Melbourne, and part-time Professor at the University of Warwick, England.
He published more than 50 articles in international journals (with approx. 14,500 Google Scholar cites in October 2022), including the American Sociological Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the American Economic Review.
He loves working with colleagues in other disciplines, as can be seen in published work with, for example, historians (on the legacy of the Habsburg Empire) and sociologists (on the spread of the Protestant Reformation).
After studying physics and mathematics for 2 years, his interest in applied social sciences drew him into the study of Economics, where he first worked mainly in labour economics, before spending more and more time working on economic history.
In recent years, his work has focused on testing hypotheses that have been hard to test: (a) Becker, Grosfeld, Grosjean, Voigtländer & Zhurvaskaya (2020) provide a formal test of the classic “uprootedness hypothesis”, which states that refugees who have been forcibly displaced (“uprooted”) do invest more in portable assets (=education); (b) Becker, Hsiao, Pfaff, Rubin (2020) test the importance of Martin Luther as an individual in spreading the Protestant Reformation, above and beyond the spread of ideas by word of mouth via trade routes; (c) Becker, Mergele & Woessmann (2020) challenge the view that socio-economic differences between East and West Germany are (only) the result of decades of Communism (World War II to 1989); instead, many differences pre-date Communism; (d) Becker & Pascali (2019), study the roots of anti-Semitism; while a lot of research has focused on cultural factors, they show the importance of economic factors: economic competition between Christians and Jews was a key driver of Christian persecution of Jews; (e) Becker & Woessmann (2018) re- assess the classic work by sociologist Emile Durkheim (1897) who presented a path-breaking list of correlates of suicide rates. They show, using detailed historic data from Prussia, as well as individual-level death records in modern-day Germany that, as conjectured by Durkheim, Protestantism is a key driver of suicide. The main contribution is the use of “distance to Wittenberg” as source of exogenous variation in the share of Protestants across the German lands.
His work has applied innovative techniques, such as: (a) Text Mining in Historic Texts: detecting latent anti-Semitism in 16th century Germany by analyzing titles of books printed in that period (Becker & Pascali, 2019); (b) Using a large-scale field survey in modern-day Poland to collect family histories up to the great-grandparent generation (“family trees”) in order to assemble information about war-time displacement when European borders were redrawn (Becker et al. 2020); (c) Using novel historic sources, such as the universe of several thousand letters between Martin Luther (1483-1546) and his correspondents to construct his links with cities across Europe (Becker, Hsiao, Pfaff, Rubin, 2020).
Professor of Economics and Xiaokai Yang Chair of Business and Economics at Monash University
Associate Editor, Quarterly Journal of Economics (QJE)
Associate Editor, Journal of the European Economic Association (JEEA)
Dean’s Award for Research Excellence 2021, Monash Business School
1. “Entrepreneur Death and Startup Performance” (with Hans K. Hvide), 2022, Review of Finance 26(1): 163-185. https://doi.org/10.1093/rof/rfab015
2. “Forced Migration and Human Capital: Evidence from Post-WWII Population Transfers” (with Irena Grosfeld, Pauline A. Grosjean, Nico Voigtländer and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya), 2020, American Economic Review, 110 (5): 1430–1463. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20181518
3. “Multiplex Network Ties and the Spatial Diffusion of Radical Innovations: Martin Luther's Leadership in the Early Reformation” (with Yuan Hsiao, Steven Pfaff and Jared Rubin), 2020, American Sociological Review 85(5): 857-894. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122420948059
4. “The Separation and Reunification of Germany: Rethinking a Natural Experiment Interpretation of the Enduring Effects of Communism” (with Lukas Mergele and Ludger Woessmann), 2020, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 34(2): 143-171. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.34.2.143
5. “Religion, Division of Labor and Conflict: Anti-Semitism in Germany over 600 Years” (with Luigi Pascali), 2019, American Economic Review, 109 (5): 1764–1804