The economics of Brat

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just lost a historic primary race — to an economist. Prof. David Brat chairs the Department of Business and Economics at Randolph-Macon College, a liberal arts school in Ashland, Virginia. Vox read over some of his academic research, and it helps give you a sense of what the politician at the center of tonight’s political earthquake believes.

…take Brat’s paper “Economic Growth and Institutions: The Rise and Fall of the Protestant Ethic?” Here, Brat makes the argument (amusingly citing the liberal economist Brad DeLong) that the spread of Protestantism in Europe was a key cause of European nations being wealthier than other countries. “Give me a country in 1600 that had a Protestant led contest for religious and political power,” he writes, “and I will show you a country that is rich today.”

In “Cross-Country R&D and Growth: Variations on a Theme of Mankiw-Romer-Weil,” Brat and a co-author argue that countries with stronger domestic research and development bases are likely to be wealthier (though research spilling over from one country to another can narrow the gap). In a second co-authored paper, he suggested that countries that remain democracies for longer periods of time tend to experience somewhat higher levels of economic growth.

Brat also seems to be a fan of Deirdre McCloskey on economic method.  The full story is here.


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