An Economic Backbone of Development : Essays in Financial and Political Economy

Abstract: The thesis consists of three self-contained essays.Local Banking and Historical Innovation: the Effect of Swedish Savings BanksHow does access to credit affect innovation at the early stages of development? This essay uses digitized records from the Swedish savings banks movement, in combination with novel data on the universe of historical patenting, to study how savings banks affected innovation in Sweden between 1900 and 1949, a period when the country was still a developing economy. The empirical strategy exploits local variation in the openings and closings of the savings banks. Municipalities with bank presence experienced increased innovation, measured by more patents from innovators seated in the municipality. In particular, the head offices of the banks impacted innovation, as they were the executive unit and administered lending. Patents from industries more dependent on financing from external sources are driving the effect, along with places with a relatively high population, a developed industry, and a previous history of innovation. The results emphasize the importance of financial institutions with strong local ties and the ability to encourage and redirect savings to promote innovation in developing economies.The Effects of Local Banking: Historical Evidence from the Swedish Savings Bank MovementWhat is the long-term effect of local banking on industrial growth and economic progress in a developing economy? We shed light on this question using rich data covering the staggered rollout of the Swedish savings bank movement and information on industrial development, population statistics, and mortality in 2400 Swedish municipalities during the first half of the 20th century. The first part of the empirical analysis shows that the presence of a savings bank substantially affected industry structure and industry growth by increasing the number of firms, the degree of mechanization, and industry sales value. More advanced industries, reliant on external financing, experienced the most substantial impact. The second part shows that the savings banks also impacted general economic development, captured by population growth and reduced infant and child mortality. The study provides novel insights into the merits of local banking systems in the early stages of economic development.Lethal Police Violence and the Public Perception of the Police: Evidence from US CountiesThe public perception of the police is significant for the validity of the democratic system. Compared to white citizens, Afro-Americans have low confidence in the police. They are also more likely to fall victim to police violence with lethal outcomes. Therefore, ethnicity and group identity may influence how the public views police violence and, by extension, how police violence affects public perceptions. This essay explores this relationship using the timing of an individual-level survey and the occurrence of local police killings. Survey participants interviewed after a police killing of a black victim obtained worse attitudes toward the police. Mainly black participants and those who are young and have a high income or education level induce the effect. In contrast, events with non-black victims elevate the status of the police among non-black respondents and those with a lower level of education. The results are consistent with group identity theory and provide insight into how controversial events affect confidence in a political institution.