People have long suspected that climate shapes attitudes and behavior. In The Spirit of the Laws (1748), French philosopher Baron de Montesquieu claimed that cold air increases blood flow to the heart. He expected this increased circulation to “produce various effects; for instance, a greater boldness, that is, more courage; a greater sense of superiority, … Continue reading Does Climate Influence Culture? A Historical Perspective
Anthropogenic climate change is the defining challenge of this century. Understanding how societies respond to it can help us anticipate and mitigate its consequences. Most academic literature to date has focused on the short-term effects of weather shocks and natural disasters (see review by Vally Koubi). This approach has generated important insights, but does not … Continue reading HPE of Climate Change: The Little Ice Age in Europe
“Stop the steal!” The 2020 US election illustrated that concerns about electoral fraud – real or imagined – can impact even the world’s oldest democracies. The Trump campaign exhausted all legal avenues to contest the vote count in six states. The campaign lost virtually all its legal challenges, but the myth of a stolen election … Continue reading Degrees of Freedom: Electoral Manipulation in Imperial Germany
Research in historical political economy has demonstrated that cultural norms and values often outlive the events, institutions, and policies that generated them. The very definition of culture emphasizes persistence and intergenerational transmission (see this related post by Jared Rubin). Socialization by parents, peers, and opinion leaders is one of the key mechanisms invoked in studies … Continue reading What Explains Cultural Transmission across Generations?
“Your name and possibly your date of birth were recorded, and suddenly you became someone – a refugee with an identity card “A”, and you could apply for a certain level of support. Registering here in Friedland was the chance to start a new life, a real life in peace.” This is how Annelie Keil, … Continue reading A look back at the forgotten refugee crisis in Europe
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is for states to have information about the societies they govern. In a scramble to contain a public health crisis, governments across the world – from the United States to India – are influencing how often we wash our hands and how many friends we meet. Public … Continue reading Count me if you can: Religious minorities and legibility in Imperial Russia
History is replete with violence, which casts a long shadow on contemporary attitudes, behavior, and institutions, as covered in our earlier posts. The Holocaust is the largest single episode of mass violence in the 20th century. It is also one of the most “data-rich” genocides, and the number of books, articles, and films that deal … Continue reading Quantitative Social Science and the Holocaust