Nico Voigtlander

Profile photo of Nico Voigtlander
"In research, the question is not 'Can it be done?' but 'Are you the one to do it?'"

Associate Professor of Economics

(310) 794-6382

Areas of Expertise

  • Economic Growth and Development
  • Economic History
  • Political Economy
  • Trade and Productivity




Associate Professor Nico Voigtländer joined the Global Economics and Management Group at UCLA Anderson in 2008. His main areas of research — long-run economic growth, political economy and economic history — provide him with the tools needed to understand how economic growth works “as a prerequisite to addressing important questions, such as poverty, inequality and the transition to ‘clean’ growth,” he explains.

His most recent projects focus on the transition from stagnation to growth and why this structural break occurred first in Europe. He has also co-authored seminal contributions addressing the deep roots of anti-Semitism and on the rise of Nazi Germany. Another line of research investigates production networks, in particular how input-output relationships form and how they create multiplier effects that augment economic shocks.

As an academic, Voigtländer has taught microeconomics, economic growth and development economics at the graduate and undergraduate levels. When asked why he chose a career in teaching, he cites Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, who pointed to the synthesis between research and teaching, in that “teaching should be close to the ‘frontier’ of a field — it should be guided by current research.”

Voigtländer earned his Ph.D. in economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, the last year of which he was invited to University California, Berkeley, as a visiting researcher. In addition to his academic experience, Voigtländer worked as an associate for McKinsey & Co. and as a consultant to the German Stock Exchange. He has been a guest speaker and panelist at numerous national and international conferences, covering topics that range from the effects of trade on firm productivity to the role of highway building in the rise of Hitler to Nazi Germany’s dictator. He serves as an associate editor of the Journal of the European Economic Association, Explorations in Economic History, and the Journal of Development Economics.

An avid soccer player, Voigtländer has played with several semi-professional teams and won regional and national athletic awards in Germany. He is fluent in a number of languages, including German, Spanish, French and Italian and can get by in Catalan. And he is living proof that one can enjoy a high quality of life in Los Angeles without a car, as he bikes 17 miles daily to and from UCLA.



Managerial Economics

International Business Economics

Long-Run Economic Growth (Ph.D. class)



Ph.D. Economics, 2008, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

M.A. Economics, Advanced Studies in Economics 2004, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

M.Sc. Environmental Engineering, 2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

M.Sc. Technology and Policy, 2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

B.Sc. Environmental Engineering, 2000, University of Technology Berlin



Hellman Fellows Program, 2012–2013

Easton Technology Grant, 2013

UCLA Cyber Grant, 2009, 2010, 2011

UCLA Price Center Grant

German National Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)

Doctoral Fellowship, 2005–08

Undergraduate and Graduate Fellowship, 1998–2004

ERP Fellowship, 2007–08

Dr. Peter Schaefer Fellowship, 2003–04

Dr. Juergen Ulderup Scholarship for Highly Gifted Engineers, 2000–01

Fulbright Full Grant (one out of four for Germany), 2000–01


Published Papers

“Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, 1919-33” (with S. Satyanath and J. Voth) Journal of Political Economy [pdf]

“Human Capital and Industrialization: Evidence from the Age of Enlightenment” (with M. Squicciarini). Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2015, 130(4): 1825-1883. [pdf]

“Nazi Indoctrination and Anti-Semitic Beliefs in Germany” (with J. Voth) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015, 112(26): 7931-7936. [pdf]

“Skill Bias Magnified: Intersectoral Linkages and White-Collar Labor Demand in U.S. Manufacturing.” Review of Economics and Statistics, 2014, 96(3): 495-513. [pdf]

“How the West Invented Fertility Restriction” (with J. Voth). American Economic Review, 2013, 103(6): 2227-2264. [pdf]

“The Three Horsemen of Riches: Plague, War and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe” (with J. Voth). Review of Economic Studies, 2013, 80(2): 774-811. [pdf]

“Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany” (with J. Voth). Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2012, 127(3): 1339-1392 [pdf]

“Why England? Demographic Factors, Structural Change and Physical Capital Accumulation during the Industrial Revolution” (with J. Voth). Journal of Economic Growth 2006, 11(4): 319-361. [pdf]

“Gifts of Mars: Warfare and Europe’s Early Rise to Riches” (with J. Voth). Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2013, 27(4): 165-86. [pdf]

“Married to Intolerance: Attitudes towards Intermarriage in Germany, 1900-2006” (with J. Voth). American Economic Review, P&P, 2013, 103(3): 79-85. [pdf]

“Malthusian Dynamism and the Rise of Europe: Make War, not Love” (with J. Voth). American Economic Review, P&P 2009, 99(2): 248-54. [pdf]

“Internationale Klimapolitik” (International Climate Policy) (with R. Schwarze et al.) Metropolis Verlag, 2000.’


Working Papers

“Exporting and Plant-Level Efficiency Gains: It’s in the Measure” [pdf] (with A. Garcia), revision requested by the Journal of Political Economy

“Imported Inputs, Quality Complementarity, and Skill Demand” (with D. Saravia) [pdf]

Development, Political Economy, and Economic History: “Highway to Hitler” (with J. Voth) [pdf]