Dr. Noel Johnson really enjoyed working with his Ph.D. students on several several new projects. With Alexander Taylor and Andrew Thomas he wrote “The Impact of the Black Death on the Adoption of the Printing Press”. We use data on the 800,000 books published between the invention of the printing press in 1450 and 1600 to show that the demographic shock of the Black Death (1347-52) severely, negatively, impacted the likelihood that cities would adopt this important technology. Noel presented this paper at Texas Tech, The University of Connecticut, Virginia Tech, and for the Center for Micro-Economic Policy Research.
Noel continues to work with Malik Hussain and Alex Tabbarok to collect data from the British Colonial Medical Archives on one of the largest vaccination campaigns in history. Between 1870 and 1928 the British launched a massive campaign to vaccinate the Indian population against smallpox. With the help of graduate students in India, Noel, Malik, and Alex have been collecting the data on yearly vaccination rates across over three hundred districts in Colonial India. Among other things, they plan on investigating the impact of massacres associated with the Great Rebellion (1857) on medical mistrust and vaccine hesitancy.
Last year Noel saw three papers come out in Journals. “The Effects of Historical Pandemics: The Black Death” (with Remi Jedwab and Mark Koyama) appeared in the Journal of Economic Literature. It surveys what we know about the economic and social impacts of the 14th century bacterial infection known as the Black Death. “Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories” (with Remi Jedwab and Mark Koyama) appeared in Regional Science and Urban Economics. Noel did an interview with Jeffrey Lin for his podcast “Densely Speaking" on the paper. Finally, “The Effects of Land Redistribution: Evidence from the French Revolution” (with Theresa Finley and Raphael Franck) appeared in the Journal of Law and Economics.
In addition to his research, Noel taught his usual classes on Spatial Techniques in Empirical Economics to Ph.D. students and Economic History to the undergraduates. He also developed a new class on Text as Data and Machine Learning and taught it to a very enthusiastic group of Ph.D. students in the Spring. Noel also started running a bi-weekly meeting for the Ph.D. students for them to do short presentations of research problems or papers that they need feedback on. He plans on continuing this informal seminar in the Fall.
He also continued his service to the Department by running the Public Choice Seminar. He also traveled to several conferences and did a few podcast interviews. Noel also received the pleasant news that he was promoted to Full Professor in May.