Now showing 1 - 10 of 43
  • Publication
    On the likely extent of falls in Irish house prices
    (University College Dublin; School of Economics, 2007-02)
    Looking at house price cycles across the OECD since 1970, we find a strong relationship between the size of the initial rise in price and its subsequent fall. Were this relationship to hold for Ireland, it would predict falls of real house prices of 40 to 60 per cent over a period of 8 to 9 years. House price falls tend not to have serious macroeconomic consequences, but the unusually large size of the Irish house building industry suggest that any significant house price fall that does occur could impose a difficult adjustment on the economy.
  • Publication
    Direct Standard Errors for Regressions with Spatially Autocorrelated Residuals
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2020-03)
    Regressions using data with known locations are increasingly used in empirical economics, and several standard error corrections are available to deal with the fact that their residuals tend to be spatially correlated. Unfortunately, different corrections commonly return significance levels that vary by several orders of magnitude, leaving the researcher uncertain as to which, if any, is valid. This paper proposes instead an extremely fast and simple procedure to derive standard errors directly from the spatial correlation structure of regression residuals. Importantly, because the estimated covariance matrix gives optimal weights to predict each residual as a linear combination of all residuals, the reliability of these standard errors is self-checking by construction. The approach extends immediately to instrumental variables, and balanced and unbalanced panels, as well as a wide class of nonlinear models. A step by step guide to estimating these standard errors is given in the accompanying tutorials.
  • Publication
    Market contagion : evidence from the panics of 1854 and 1857
    (American Economic Association, 2000-12) ;
    To test a model of contagion--where individuals hear some bad news and communicate it to their acquaintances, who then pass it on, leading to a market panic--requires a knowledge of the information networks of participants, something hitherto unavailable. For two panics in the 1850s this paper examines the behavior of Irish depositors in a New York bank. As recent immigrants, their social network was determined largely by their place of origin in Ireland, and where they lived in New York. During both panics this social network turns out to be the prime determinant of behavior.
  • Publication
    Speed under Sail, 1750-1850
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2014-05) ;
    We measure technological progress in oceanic shipping by using a large database of daily log entries from ships of the British and Dutch navies and East India Companies to estimate daily sailing speed in different wind conditions from 1750 to 1850. Against the consensus, dating back to North (1958, 1968), that the technology of sailing ships was static during this period, we find that average sailing speed in a moderate breeze (the usual summer conditions in the North Atlantic) rose by one third between 1780 and 1830; with greater increases at lower wind speeds. About one third of this improvement occurs when hulls are first copper plated in the 1780s, but the rest appears to be the result of incremental improvements in sails, rigging, and hull profiles.
  • Publication
    Living standards and mortality since the Middle Ages
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2010-09) ;
    Existing studies find little connection between living standards and mortality in England, but go back only to the sixteenth century. Using new data on inheritances, we extend estimates of mortality back to the mid-thirteenth century and find, by contrast, that deaths from unfree tenants to the nobility were strongly affected by harvests. Looking at a large sample of parishes after 1540, we find that the positive check had weakened considerably by 1650 even though real wages were falling, but persisted in London for another century despite its higher wages. In both cases the disappearance of the positive check coincided with the introduction of systematic poor relief, suggesting that government action played a role in breaking the link between harvest failure and mass mortality.
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  • Publication
    Debating the Little Ice Age
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2014-03) ;
    This paper replies to commentaries by Sam White and by Ulf Büntgen and Lena Hellmann on our 'The Waning of the Little Ice Age: Climate Change in Early Modern Europe'. White and Büntgen/Hellmann seek to prove that Europe experienced the kind of sustained falls in temperature between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries that can justify the notion of a Little Ice Age. Neither of them adequately addresses the cogency of the anecdotal or statistical evidence presented in our article, especially with regard to the spurious peaks and troughs created by the smoothing of temperature series--the so-called Slutsky Effect.
  • Publication
    Roots of the Industrial Revolution
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2015-10) ; ;
    We analyze factors explaining the very different patterns of industrialization across the 42 counties of England between 1760 and 1830. Against the widespread view that high wages and cheap coal drove industrialization, we find that industrialization was restricted to low wage areas, while energy availability (coal or water) had little impact Instead we find that industrialization can largely be explained by two factors related to the human capability of the labour force. Instead of being composed of landless labourers, successful industrializers had large numbers of small farms, which are associated with better nutrition and height. Secondly, industrializing counties had a high density of population relative to agricultural land, indicating extensive rural industrial activity: counties that were already reliant on small scale industry, with the technical and entrepreneurial skills this generated, experienced the strongest industrial growth. Looking at 1830s France we find that the strongest predictor of industrialization again is quality of workers shown by height of the population, although market access and availability of water power were also important.
  • Publication
    The invention of invention
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2005-09)
    This paper models an industrial revolution as a qualitative transition from a world where innovation is infrequent and haphazard to one where it is continuous and systematic. Pre-industrial innovation is treated as a social process where an individual's effectiveness as an innovator depends on the skills of other individuals in his social network. As technology improves, individuals invest more time in learning through social contact. This gradual increase in linkage formation leads to a sudden change in the size of knowledge networks from small, isolated clusters, to a large connected cluster spanning most of the economy, causing a sudden increase in the effectiveness of innovation: an industrial revolution. The predicted sequence of typical innovators - from gifted amateurs, to lucky amateurs, to professionals - is consistent with empirical evidence. This paper is part of the International Trade and Investment Programme of the Geary Institute at UCD.
  • Publication
    Persistence, Randomization, and Spatial Noise
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2021-10)
    Historical persistence studies and other regressions using spatial data commonly have severely inflated t statistics, and different standard error adjustments to correct for this return markedly different estimates. This paper proposes a simple randomization inference procedure where the significance level of an explanatory variable is measured by its ability to outperform synthetic noise with the same estimated spatial structure. Spatial noise, in other words, acts as a treatment randomization in an artificial experiment based on correlated observational data. Combined with Müller and Watson (2021), randomization gives a way to estimate credible confidence intervals for spatial regressions. The performance of twenty persistence studies relative to spatial noise is examined.