I work with Scandinavian economic history, with a focus on education’s role in industrialisation. I apply quantitative methods using historical source material to understand development patterns over the long term.

I am passionate about good research design and clear communication. My ambition is to explain interesting ideas in easily understandable terms.

I previously worked as an economist and strategic adviser within government in Australia, before moving to Denmark in 2018.

Academic interests

My research interests include:

  • long-term economic growth and productivity
  • human capital, particularly the role of education
  • economic history
  • macroeconomic theory

Dissertation project

I’m attached to a research project on human capital acquisition across Denmark, Norway and Sweden during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The project uses individual-level records to track the background, studies and work experience of high school and university graduates over more than a century. The novelty and richness of the source material allows us to offer new insights on the role of higher education in long-term economic development and social mobility.


  • Why do we experience economic growth? As our economies develop, why do we expect long-term living standards to rise? Such progress is not an immutable law of economic activity. On the contrary, economic growth (on a per capita basis) is a relatively recent phenomenon.

    For most of human history, strong economic performance didn’t translate to sustained increases in material standards of living (for which we can use output per capita as a proxy). Rather, a strong economy gave rise to population growth: when times were good, families had more children. It was only during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (at least in the developed world) that this dynamic began to change. Why?

  • There is broad agreement that human capital — the skills and attribute which influence individuals’ productive capacity — matters for long-term development. But curiously, there is mixed evidence on the role of human capital as a driver of industrialisation.

    Part of the problem here may relate to how human capital is measured. At the macroeconomic level, human capital is typically measured with respect to education levels across the population: for example, years of schooling or literacy rates. But this may be less relevant than the ‘upper tail’ of knowledge in society: the select few with highly specialised skills. Mokyr, Sarid and van der Beek (2022) test this idea of upper-tail human capital in eighteenth-century Britain. Specifically, they look at the role of watermills, and the millwrights who were responsible for them.

  • A favoured argument in defence of tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers is to shield emerging (or ‘infant’) industries from foreign competition during a period of establishment and early growth. By temporarily raising the cost of imports, governments can give an industry breathing space to build up a critical mass of capacity and talent, which would otherwise risk being snuffed out.

    Critics would say that this infant industry motivation often falls short in practice: at what point can the ‘infant’ be considered to have grown up, such that trade barriers are no longer required? What if the ‘infant’ never really grows up?