BEc, MA (Ecole Normale Superieure); PhD (Toulouse School of Economics)


My research has been focused on understanding the long-term dynamic between institutions and culture; in particular norms of cooperation such as trust, or its converse, violence; and the implication of this dynamic for economic development. 

I have studied how historical shocks have shaped social norms of trust, financial development, and preferences for education. I have examined a variety of contexts and places, such as WWII and post-WWII Europe, the former Ottoman Empire, or modern Central Asia. 

While my research, complemented by a growing body of evidence, demonstrates that historical events have a persistent effect on cultural norms and individual behaviour, I go further and ask: How can culture change? In particular, I have shown that while they persist, cultural norms can change under the influence of formal institutions. For example, cultural norms of violence can vanish in the presence of strong third-party enforcement. 

These results suggest another novel and important result: even short-lived variations in the institutional and natural environment can lead to large and persistent differences in culture and institutions down the line. I have extended this line of research and shown how a malebiased sex ratio in 19th century Australia, which was driven by convict transportation, has left a large and lasting imprint on the quantity and the quality of female work, on gender norms that constrain the behaviour of both women and men, and on social welfare, until today. My co-author and I have also established that small variation in the quality of marine resources influenced whether a society adopts matrilineal or patrilineal inheritance (transmission of land through the female or the male line) in the Pacific and across the world- an institutional difference that has considerable demographic consequences. 

In a democracy, the popular vote selects the leaders who will shape formal institutions. Hence, a natural stream of my research has also studied the determinants of voting behaviour. I have examined how democracy affects pro-market sentiment in the former Soviet bloc; as well as demonstrated the influence of economic factors on preferences for Islamist parties in the first post-Arab Spring election. 

Recently, I have studied the role of leadership in generating discriminatory, racist and violent behaviour. In this context, I study the historical context of collaboration with Nazi Germany in France during the Second World War and the impact of Trump’s political campaign on radicalizing racist views as well as racist behaviour among the police in the United States. 

A strength of my work is to build on innovative methods and various original data sources: historical data, survey data, behavioural experiments in the field, and randomised controlled trials. I have been the leading researcher in charge of a World Bank and EBRD sponsored survey in more than 40 countries. I have conducted original behavioural and policy experiments on institutional change in Kosovo, Italy, Tajikistan, and the Solomon Islands. I have also applied highly innovative and cross-disciplinary research designs to the analysis of the data I collected, working with evolutionary biologists, psychologists, and linguists. 

Future Fellowship 2019-2023 

UNSW Scientia Fellow 2018-2022 

Ciriacy-Wantrup Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Natural Resources Economics and Political Economy - University of California at Berkeley (2007-2009) 

1. Becker, Sascha O., Irena Grosfeld, Pauline Grosjean, Nico Voigtländer and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya. “Forced Migration and Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from PostWWII Population Transfers”, American Economic Review. Vol. 110, issue 5, May 2020: 143063.

2. Grosjean, Pauline and Rose Khattar. “It’s Raining Men! Hallelujah? The Long-Run Consequences of Male-Biased Sex Ratios”, Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 86(2), March 2019: 723–754.

3. BenYishay, Ariel, Pauline Grosjean and Joseph Vecci. “The Fish is the Friend of Matriliny: Reef Density and Matrilineal Inheritance”, Journal of Development Economics, July 2017, Vol. 127, 234-249.

4. Grosjean, Pauline. “A History of Violence: The Culture of Honor and Homicide in the US South”, Journal of the European Economic Association, October 2014, Vol. 12 (5): 12851316.

5. Grosjean, Pauline and Claudia Senik. “Democracy, Market Liberalization and Political Preferences,” The Review of Economics and Statistics, February 2011, Vol. 93(1): 365-381.