Janas-Pawel-Fall 2020_unedited.JPG

Welcome to my personal website! I am a PhD candidate at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. I will be joining the faculty of the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech as an Assistant Professor of Economics in Fall 2022.


I am an economic historian with research interests and training in finance and applied microeconomics. My research agenda is centered around questions at the intersection of public finance, financial markets, and the development of the American economy in the 20th century.  In my dissertation, I explore the impact of the Great Depression on local public good provision of U.S. cities and school districts, focusing on how financial constraints affect public expenditure and human capital formation. I also study the historical evolution of financial intermediaries and taxation. All data, documentation, and replication files for my papers are posted on this site. Please reach out to me with any questions or comments.


Working Papers

(1) Public Goods Under Financial Distress: Evidence from Cities in the Great Depression [link]

Urban Economic Association Student Prize, Runner-up

Abstract.        Local governments in the U.S. issue debt to fund infrastructure projects and provide important public services to residents. When a financial crisis occurs, financially leveraged cities can suffer distress and curtail public spending, which may lead to out-migration by households. In this paper, I collect novel archival panel data on cities and municipal bonds during 1920s and 1930s and examine local public good provision during the Great Depression. I find that distressed cities significantly lowered public good provision - roughly 20 percent of the drop in expenditure can be explained through a re-allocation of budgets towards debt repayment. Despite large institutional differences between cities and firms, the effects of financial distress on wages are surprisingly similar. In response, I find suggestive evidence that households subsequently relocated away from distressed cities.

(2) Recessions, Constraints, and Public Education: Impact of the Great Depression on the High
      School Movement [

Abstract.      Investment in formal schooling varies with macroeconomic conditions that alter the resources available and the opportunity cost of education. I study whether recessions can serve a long-run benefit to youth by pushing them out of the labor market and back into school and investigate if education spending cuts attenuate this effect. I collect novel archival data on youth unemployment and school quality during the Great Depression and study how each affected overall high school graduation rates and average earnings across U.S. cities during the last stage of the High School Movement. My difference-in-differences empirical strategy attempts to explain the within-city variation in high school graduation rates across cohorts using across-city variation in unemployment and public education spending. I find that worsening local labor markets for youth significantly increased their secondary school attendance and graduation rates while education spending cuts decreased them, but to a smaller extent. The effect is largest for youth from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. In all, I estimate that 80 thousand urban youth obtained a high school diploma due to the Depression, and 7.5 thousand dropped out due to school district expenditure cuts.

(3) Correlation in State and Local Tax Changes (with Scott Baker and Lorenz Kuenz[link]

Abstract.   We develop a comprehensive dataset of state and local taxes from 2000-2015 that includes personal income taxes, property taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes, estate taxes and excise taxes. We illustrate how state and local taxes have changed over time, in response to business cycles, and to what extent different taxes co-move within a state or locality. Across states and local jurisdictions, large differences in the mix of taxes are observed, and these differences have tended to become more pronounced over time. Moreover, we note that different types of taxes tend to co-move within a state or local jurisdiction, highlighting the importance for researches to take into account the entirety of the tax system, rather than just a single tax type, when examining household or firm responses to state and local tax changes. At both a state and local level, increases in tax rates of all types tend to increase tax revenue but worsen business conditions and employment

Works in progress

(4) The 1918 Pandemic Revisited: New Evidence on Mortality and Economic Effects in U.S. Cities

Draft forthcoming.

Summary.   I study the demographic determinants and economic effects of the 1918 influenza pandemic by constructing a novel panel dataset of manufacturing activity and mortality for over 350 U.S. cities during 1909-1939. I find that the factors typically explored in the literature that explain spatial variation in influenza and pneumonia (P&I) cases fail to explain the majority of the variation in reported excess mortality rates in 1918 across U.S. cities. Consistent with the historical narrative, however, baseline P&I mortality and share of males correlate positively with mortality while the share of children in school correlates negatively. I do not find any evidence that proximity to a U.S. Navy or Army World War I camp affected mortality in cities, in contrast with the widely held view that. Finally, I find strong evidence that high-mortality cities experienced slower economic growth after 1918 but the causal link between the two is tenuous.


(5) Lender of Last Resort: Local Financial Constraints and Federal Reserve Policy in the 1930s

Draft forthcoming.

Summary.   Economic recovery from financial crises is typically slower than from other crises, possibly due to credit rationing by financial intermediaries. I study whether lender-of-last-resort policies of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank during the Great Depression eased firms’ financial constraints using a novel database of local economic conditions from 1927 to 1937. My identification strategy relies on the willingness of the Federal Reserve to extend credit in some regions and not in others and plausibly exogenous placement of Federal Reserve boundaries. I find evidence that Fed intervention stymied banking panics, but I do not, surprisingly, find any meaningful effect of Fed policies on local economic outcomes.

(6) The Role of Insurance Companies as Financial Intermediaries: Evidence from Booms and Busts over the Twentieth Century (with Carola Frydman, Eric Hilt, and Dimitris Papanikolaou) 

In data collection.



Ph.D., Finance, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

M.S., Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA

B.A., Economics, University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA

2016 - 2022

2011 - 2016

2011 - 2016

Magna Cum Laude, with Distinction

B.S., Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA

2011 - 2016

Magna Cum Laude


Northwestern Center for Economic History research grant

Economic History Association Dissertation Fellowship

Kellogg School of Management Doctoral Fellowship

Kellogg School of Management Dean's Office Research Grant

Distinguished Graduate, Department of Applied Mathematics at CU Boulder

Christopher S. Randall Scholarship for Excellence in Economics, CU Boulder

Engineering Merit Scholarship, CU Boulder


2020 - 2021

2016 - 2021

2019 - 2021



2011 - 2015


Teaching Assistantships

Entrepreneurial Finance and Venture Capital, MBA, 7 quarters, Kellogg

Corporate Finance, PhD, 3 quarters, Kellogg

Corporate Finance, MBA, 9 quarters, Kellogg

Calculus 1 and Multivariate Calculus, 2 semesters, CU Boulder

2017 - 2021

2019 - 2021

2017 - 2020

2015 - 2016



Here you will find novel datasets I have collected as part of my research. If you plan on using any of them and have questions, please contact me directly.

U.S. Census of Manufactures - County - 1927 to 1937 - Biennial

[codebook]          [data]


U.S. National Banking Conditions - County - 1924 to 1931 - Annual


U.S. Manufacturing Industries - County - 1927

[codebook         [data]





Iron and Steel




U.S. Census of Manufactures - City - 1904 to 1939 - every ~5 years

[codebook         [data]

U.S. Vital Statistics - City - 1915 to 1923 - Annual

[codebook         [data]

Flu and Pneumonia
Deaths, 1918-19

U.S. Financial Statistics of Cities - City - 1924 to 1938 - Annual

[codebook         [data]


Survey of Education - City - 1922 to 1940 - Biennial

[codebook       [data]


U.S. Municipal Bonds, 1929

[codebook       [data]



Outside of research and teaching, I like to spend my time outdoors either in the mountains or with a frisbee in my hand. I am an avid Ultimate player and play competitively at the semi-pro and club levels. In March 2020, I was one of 24 players selected to men's Team USA which was scheduled to compete at the 2020 World Championships (canceled due to Covid-19). 


2021 Chicago Union - AUDL Central Division Champions

2019 Chicago Machne - National Chamionship Runner-Ups

2019 Chicago Machine - Club National Championship Runner-ups.

2014 USAU College Championsip Colorado Mamabird

2014 University of Colorado Mamabird - College National Champions.