My research explores the drivers of growth and development over the long term, with a particular focus on the role of education. I apply principally quantitative methods, complemented by qualitative techniques to ground and contextualise results.

I enjoy working in interdisciplinary teams, and collaborate with researchers in fields such as economics, economic and social history, and data science.

I am adept in using both Stata and R for applied econometric analysis, and also have experience with Python — principally for converting text in printed sources to data.

Related content

I am currently focused on completing my PhD dissertation, with an expected submission date in late 2024.

Current projects

Principal investigator: Kristin Ranestad

Research funding from Jan Wallanders och Tom Hedelius stiftelse

The aim of this project is to analyse the value placed upon social background, education, academic performance and work experience by employers in industry and business in Sweden, Denmark and Norway between 1880 and 1920 — a period when Scandinavia, and the rest of Europe, underwent a social, industrial and economic transformation. Were specific education types, academic performances and work experiences preferred? Did economic sectors and companies value social background, schools/universities, degrees, grades and previous work experiences differently?

Includes my dissertation project: Origins of the knowledge economy: Higher education and Scandinavia’s economic development


Karol Jan Borowiecki, Nicholas Ford and Maria Marchenko (2023): ‘Harmonious Relations: Quality transmission among composers in the very long run‘, European Review of Economic History

Most creative professionals develop and refine their talents by learning from others. In most empirical settings, estimating how this learning process fosters quality is challenging. This paper explores the transmission of quality among music composers over more than seven centuries. How does a composer’s quality influence the quality of the composers they teach? Using a unique dataset of 17,433 composers, we show a strong relationship between student and teacher quality. Moreover, this quality transmission persists across multiple generations. Our results provide new insights on drivers of creativity, as well as the influence of teachers on students’ achievements.

Nicholas Ford, Kristin Ranestad and Paul Sharp (2022): ‘Leaving Their Mark: Using Danish Student Grade Lists to Construct a More Detailed Measure of Historical Human Capital‘, Italian Review of Economic History

We provide a brief overview of the educational history of Denmark and document archival and printed sources covering the development of primary, secondary, and tertiary education. In particular, we focus on student grade lists, which are available for individuals at all levels of education from the early nineteenth century until well into the twentieth century. We suggest that these can be used to construct more detailed measures of human capital than those usually employed, making it possible to deconstruct aggregate levels and types of education into e.g., science or humanities, as well as to measure the extent to which this was actually learned, as captured by the grades achieved. Given the role usually attributed to human capital for development, and perhaps particularly with regards to the Nordic countries, such data has the potential to greatly increase our understanding of how Denmark became the rich and successful country it is today.

Work in progress

Nicholas Ford, Kristin Ranestad and Paul Sharp: ‘Not the best fillers-in of forms? The Danish and Norwegian graduate biographies as a source for measuring human capital and “upper-tail” knowledge’

Nicholas Ford, Kristin Ranestad and Paul Sharp: ‘Lessons from Oslo: National universities, access to higher education and long-run development’