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The City Rising: Inequality and Mobility in a Growing Metropolis of the 19th Century


The rising industrial metropolises of the 19th century faced a series of timeless challenges: the disruptive effects of new technologies, the integration of new immigrants, the threat of epidemics. In this project we study, with the use of novel, high-quality, high-frequency individual-level archival data, how the city of Munich dealt with these challenges and provided opportunities for economic and social mobility to its dwellers, in the period 1823-1914. Our study is composed of three parts. In Part 1, we study the consequences of a technological shock — the introduction of mass transportation — on the spatial structure of the city. We show how occupations and businesses were subject to differential agglomeration forces, and document the reorganization of economic activity and residents across space. Using schooling data, we study the impact of this reorganization on social mobility. In Part 2, we study how members of a long marginalized ethnic group — Jews — were integrated into the growing city, and how they rose to ranks of the educated upper middle classes. We study the initial conditions that determined their occupational specialization and eventual success: place of origin, religious current, residential segregation, human capital of ancestors. We also study assimilation strategies and identity choices, as evidenced by first name choices, human capital investments, and intermarriage. In Part 3, we study how the provision of a core health amenity — sanitation — reshaped the social geography of the city. We analyze its consequences on child mortality, fertility choices, and human capital investments using linked individual data, and consider the confounding role of spatial sorting in this process. We expect our research to unify hitherto disparate literatures (in economic history, urban economics, political economy, and social mobility), and to demonstrate the feasibility of collecting large-scale, individual-level data from European history.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 956 434,00
Geschwister Scholl Platz 1
80539 Muenchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00