Èric Roca obtained his PhD at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) the 6th of September, 2018. His research interests include comparative development and family economics. He is currently an assistant professor at CERDI, Université de Clermont-Auvergne.
PhD in Economics, September 2018
Université catholique de Louvain
Research Master in Economics, 2014
Université catholique de Louvain
Awarded the ‘UWIN Best Paper Award on Gender Economics’, 7th edition.
Awarded a ‘Valeria Solesin’ accessit, 2018 edition.
This paper is concerned with the historical roots of gender equality. It proposes and empirically assesses a new class of determinants of gender equality: increases in women’s bargaining power through reductions in the cost of remaining single. In particular, enlarging women’s options besides marriage —even if only temporarily— increases their bargaining power with respect to men, leading to a persistent improvement in gender equality. We illustrate this mechanism focusing on the specific Belgian context, and relate gender-equality levels in the 19th century to the presence of medieval, female-only communities called beguinages that allowed women to remain single amidst a society that advocated the opposite. Combining precise beguinages’ location with 19th-century census data, we document that beguinages were instrumental in decreasing the gender gap in literacy.
This paper examines how the degree of gender-egalitarianism embedded in inheritance rules impacts state building. Male-biased inheritance rules historically maximise the likelihood of dynastic continuity. However, there is more land merging under gender-egalitarian rules. We compare both types of inheritance rules, concluding that, contrary to the literature, gender-egalitarian norms promote state capacity in the short run more than gender-biased norms. In the long run results are reversed.
Conditionally Accepted at The Economic Journal
This paper relates curiosity to economic development through its impact on human capital formation and technological advancement in pre-modern times. More specifically, we pro- pose that exposure to inexplicable phenomena prompts curiosity and thinking in an attempt to comprehend these mysteries, thus raising human capital and technology, and ultimately, fostering growth. We focus on solar eclipses as one particular trigger of curiosity and empir- ically establish a robust relationship between their number and several proxies of economic prosperity. We also offer evidence compatible with the human capital and technological increases we postulate, finding a more intricate thinking process and more developed tech- nology among societies more exposed to solar eclipses. Among other factors, we study the development of written language, the playing of strategy games and the accuracy of folkloric explanations for eclipses, as well as the number of tasks undertaken in a society, their rel- ative complexity, and broad technological indicators. Lastly, we document rising curiosity both at the social and individual level: societies incorporate more terms related to curiosity and eclipses in their folklore, and people who observed a total solar eclipse during their childhood were more likely to have entered a scientific occupation.