Philipp Ager

Department of Business and Economics
University of Southern Denmark
Campusvej 55
5230 Odense M, Denmark

Institutional Affiliations: University of Southern Denmark and CEPR

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2019The Effects of Immigration on the Economy: Lessons from the 1920s Border Closure
with Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Elior Cohen, Casper W. Hansen: w26536
In the 1920s, the United States substantially reduced immigrant entry by imposing country-specific quotas. We compare local labor markets with more or less exposure to the national quotas due to differences in initial immigrant settlement. A puzzle emerges: the earnings of existing US-born workers declined after the border closure, despite the loss of immigrant labor supply. We find that more skilled US-born workers – along with unrestricted immigrants from Mexico and Canada – moved into affected urban areas, completely replacing European immigrants. By contrast, the loss of immigrant workers encouraged farmers to shift toward capital-intensive agriculture and discouraged entry from unrestricted workers.
April 2019How the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Shaped Economic Activity in the American West
with Katherine Eriksson, Casper Worm Hansen, Lars Lønstrup: w25727
This paper examines the long-run effects of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake on the spatial distribution of economic activity in the American West. Using variation in the potential damage intensity of the earthquake, we show that more severely affected cities experienced lower population increases relative to less affected cities until the late 20th century. This long lasting effect is largely a result of individuals’ high geographical mobility at that time. Less affected areas became more attractive migration destinations in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, which permanently changed the spatial distribution of economic activity in the American West.
March 2019The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After the Civil War
with Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson: w25700
The nullification of slave wealth after the U.S. Civil War (1861-65) was one of the largest episodes of wealth compressions in history. We document that white Southern households holding more slave assets in 1860 lost substantially more wealth by 1870, relative to households that had been equally wealthy before the war. Yet, the sons of former slaveholders recovered relative to comparable sons by 1900, and grandsons surpassed their counterparts in educational and occupational attainment by 1940. We find that social networks facilitated this recovery, with sons marrying into other former slaveholding families. Transmission of entrepreneurship and skills appear less central.
December 2016Killer Incentives: Status Competition and Pilot Performance during World War II
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Hans-Joachim Voth: w22992
A growing theoretical and empirical literature shows that public recognition can lead employees to exert greater effort. However, status competition is also associated with excessive expenditure on status goods, greater likelihood of bankruptcy, and more risk taking by money managers. This paper examines the effects of recognition and status competition jointly. In particular, we focus on the spillover effects of public recognition on the performance and risk taking of peers. Using newly collected data on monthly “victory” scores of more than 5,000 German pilots during World War II, we find that status competition had important effects: After the German armed forces bulletin mentioned the accomplishments of a particular fighter pilot, his former peers performed considerably better. This ou...
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