Valentin Lindlacher

Assistant Professor in Economics at TU Dresden

Working papers

Digital Infrastructure and Local Economic Growth: Early Internet in Sub-Saharan Africa

with Moritz Goldbeck
latest version here
job market paper
runner-up for the Distinguished CESifo Affiliate Award at the CESifo Area Conference on the Economics of Digitization 2022

We study whether internet availability at basic speeds fosters local economic growth in remote areas of developing countries by analyzing remote towns in about 10 Sub-Saharan African countries. We measure local economic growth of each town by tracking its nighttime light emissions. In a difference-in-differences setting, we exploit plausibly exogenous nationwide variation in internet availability induced by submarine cable arrivals and use the rollout of within-country inter-regional fiber cables to design comparable treatment and control groups. We find that basic Internet availability induces economic growth. Compared to a control group of similar but later connected towns, connected towns experience 10 percent higher light intensity which translates to about 3 percentage points higher annual economic growth in the years after the arrival of submarine cables. Internet availability is accompanied by a shift from agriculture to manufacturing in regional employment. Further analyses suggest this result is mainly driven by per capita productivity growth and not by migration into connected towns. The effect is stronger in towns closer to ports and with higher market access, indicating that (international) trade is an important mechanism.

Keywords: Internet; Regional development; Towns; Nighttime light; Sub-Saharan Africa
JEL-Codes: L86, O18, O33, R11
Map of stadiums

No Surprises, Please: Voting Costs and Electoral Turnout

with Jean-Victor Alipour (Accepted at Journal of Political Economy Microeconomics)
replication package here
final version here (CESifo Working Paper)
nominated for the Elinor and Vincent Ostrom Prize at the Public Choice Society Meeting 2022
selected for a press briefing at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2022
policy report (in German)

Can well-intentioned policies create barriers to voting? Election administrators in Munich (Germany) recruit new polling places and control precinct sizes to improve voting accessibility, creating variation in the assignment of citizens to polling locations. Event study estimates suggest that polling place reassignments cause a persistent shift from in-person to mail-in voting and a transitory drop in total turnout of 0.4 percentage points (0.6 percent). The results are consistent with inattention to reassignments, causing some voters to miss requesting mail-in ballots and temporarily abstain from voting. Reassignments depress turnout more in elderly-heavy precincts and when distance to the polling location increases.

Keywords: Voter turnout; Election administration; Inattention; Polling places; Event study
JEL-Codes: D72, D73, D83, R41

    The Impact of China’s “Stadium Diplomacy” on Local Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

    with Gustav Pirich (revision requested)
    latest version here (CESifo Working Paper)

    This study investigates the economic impact of China’s “stadiumdiplomacy” in Sub-Saharan Africa. Exploiting the staggered timing of the construction in a difference-in-differences framework, we analyze the effect of Chinese-built and financed stadiums on local economic development. Employing nighttime light satellite data, we provide both an aggregate and spatially disaggregated assessment of these investments. We find that a stadium’s city nighttime light intensity increases by 25 percent, on average, after stadiumcompletion. The stadium’s direct surrounding increases by 34 percent, on average, in its nighttime light activity. The effects can be attributed to the stadiums but are not only visible close to the stadium’s location. The effect remains strong when controlling for other local Chinese investments. Thus, we find evidence for beneficial effects of Chinese-built and financed stadiums on local economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, contrasting with the widely held notion that China’s development finance projects constitute “white elephants”.

    Keywords: Stadium diplomacy; Regional development; Nighttime light; Local public infrastructure; Sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL-Codes: O18, R11, O55, R53, Z20

Work in progress

    Leapfrogging Telecommunication: Unraveling the Impact of Mobile Coverage on Labor Market Structures

    with Marta Bernardi

    Keywords: Mobile coverage, Structural transformation, Technological development
    JEL-Codes: O33, O12, O14


    Should I Mail or Should I Go: Insights From a One-Time All-Postal Election

    with Marius Kröper

    Keywords: Mail-in voting, Voter turnout, Local elections, Habit formation, COVID-19 pandemic, Bavaria
    JEL-Codes: D72, H11, H70, R50


    Training, Automation, and Wages: Individual-Level Evidence from PIAAC

    with Oliver Falck, Yuchen Guo, Christina Langer, and Simon Wiederhold

    Keywords: Job training, Human capital, Digital skills, Entropy balancing
    JEL-Codes: J24, J31, J61, O33


    Commuting and Subjective Well-Being in Times of Mobile Network Rollout

    with Katharina Bettig

    Keywords: Commuting, Well-being, Internet availability, Life satisfaction, Marginal effect
    JEL-Codes: D1, I31, R41