Èric Roca Fernández

Èric Roca Fernández

Post-Doctoral Researcher

AMSE, Aix-Marseille Université

Biography

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 a post-doctoral student at AMSE, Aix-Marseille Université. I will be available for interview at the EJM 2020 and the AEA online meetings.

Interests

  • Comparative Development
  • Economic History
  • Family Economics
  • Gender Economics

Education

  • PhD in Economics, September 2018

    Université catholique de Louvain

  • Research Master in Economics, 2014

    Université catholique de Louvain

  • Bachelor of Economics, 2009

    Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Working Papers

Celestial Enlightenment: Eclipses, curiosity and economic development among pre-modern ethnic groups

Job Market Paper
This paper revisits the role of human capital for economic growth among pre-modern ethnic groups. We hypothesise that exposure to rare natural events drives curiosity and prompts thinking in an attempt to comprehend and explain the phenomenon, thus raising human capital. We focus on solar eclipses as one particular trigger of curiosity and empirically establish a robust relationship between their number and several proxies for economic prosperity: social complexity, technological level and population density. Variation in solar eclipse exposure is exogenous as their local incidence is randomly and sparsely distributed all over the globe. Additionally, eclipses’ non-destructive character makes them outperform other uncanny natural events, such as volcano eruptions or earthquakes, which have a direct negative economic effects. We also offer evidence compatible with the human capital increase we postulate, finding a more intricate thinking in ethnic groups more exposed to solar eclipses. In particular, we study the development of written language, the playing of strategy games and the accuracy of the folkloric reasoning for eclipses.

Roots of Gender Equality: the Persistent Effect of Beguinages on Attitudes Toward Women

Awarded the ‘UWIN Best Paper Award on Gender Economics’, 7th edition.
Awarded a ‘Valeria Solesin’ accessit, 2018 edition.
Revise & Resubmit at Journal of Economic Growth

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.

Recent & Upcoming Talks

The Terror of History: Solar Eclipses and the Origins of Critical Thinking and Complexity

This paper revisits the role of human capital for economic growth among non-industrialised ethnic groups. We hypothesize that exposure to rare, natural events drives curiosity and prompts thinking in an attempt to comprehend and explain the phenomenon, thus raising human capital —directly and indirectly. We focus on total solar eclipses as one particular trigger of curiosity and empirically establish a robust relationship between their number and several proxies for economic prosperity: social complexity, technological level and population density. Variation in solar eclipse exposure is exogenous as their local incidence is randomly and sparsely distributed all over the globe. Moreover, unlike other natural phenomena, solar eclipses do not destroy capital, either human or physical. We also offer evidence compatible with the mechanism we propose, finding a more intricate thinking in ethnic groups more exposed to solar eclipses. In particular, we study the development of written language, the play of strategy games and the accuracy of the folkloric reasoning for eclipses.

The Terror of History: Solar Eclipses and the Origins of Critical Thinking and Complexity

This paper revisits the role of human capital for economic growth among non-industrialised ethnic groups. We hypothesize that exposure to rare, natural events drives curiosity and prompts thinking in an attempt to comprehend and explain the phenomenon, thus raising human capital —directly and indirectly. We focus on total solar eclipses as one particular trigger of curiosity and empirically establish a robust relationship between their number and several proxies for economic prosperity: social complexity, technological level and population density. Variation in solar eclipse exposure is exogenous as their local incidence is randomly and sparsely distributed all over the globe. Moreover, unlike other natural phenomena, solar eclipses do not destroy capital, either human or physical. We also offer evidence compatible with the mechanism we propose, finding a more intricate thinking in ethnic groups more exposed to solar eclipses. In particular, we study the development of written language, the play of strategy games and the accuracy of the folkloric reasoning for eclipses.

Roots of Gender Equality: the Persistent Effect of Beguinages on Attitudes toward Women

This papers shows the long-lasting effects of the beguine movement on gender equality. Beguinages were female-only, semi-religious institutions that appeared in the Low Countries during the Middle Ages. We find that, during the 19th century, female wages and literacy rates were closer to their male counterparts in municipalities that had a beguinage.

References

Fabio Mariani
Associate Professor
IRES/IMMAQ, Université catholique de Louvain
fabio.mariani@uclouvain.be

Luca Pensieroso
Associate Professor
IRES/IMMAQ, Université catholique de Louvain
luca.pensieroso@uclouvain.be

David de la Croix
Professor of Economics
IRES/IMMAQ, Université catholique de Louvain
david.delacroix@uclouvain.be

Oded Galor
Herbert H. Goldberger Professor of Economics
Brown University
Oded_Galor@brown.edu

Contact