Brunet Honored by Economic History Association

Gillian Brunet

Gillian Brunet, assistant professor of economics, was awarded the Allan Nevins Prize in American Economic History by the Economic History Association Sept. 8 in Montreal, Canada.

The prize is awarded annually on behalf of Columbia University Press for the best dissertation in U.S. or Canadian economic history completed during the previous year.

Brunet, who joined the faculty at Wesleyan this fall, completed her dissertation at the University of California at Berkeley. Her dissertation focused on the state-level effects of World War II spending in the United States.

Titled, Understanding the Effects of Fiscal Policy: Measurement, Mechanisms, and Lessons from History, Brunet explored the government’s ability to stimulate economic activity through expansionary fiscal policy by asking “How much economic activity results when the government increases spending by one dollar, and how does the economic and institutional context affect the answer to that question?”

Brunet’s dissertation uses a variety of empirical techniques to explore aspects of this question using historical data on U.S. military spending. Chapter one uses state-level variation in war production spending to measure the fiscal multiplier during World War II, and examine how features of the wartime economy influenced the size of the fiscal multiplier. In chapter two, Brunet focuses on how the measurement of government spending influences the estimated size of the multiplier and she introduces a new time series measure of aggregate defense spending. In chapter three, she returns to World War II, but this time examines the effects of wartime military spending on the postwar economy, establishing causal evidence for its role in driving the immediate postwar boom.

This fall, Brunet is teaching Economics of Alexander Hamilton’s America and Macroeconomic Analysis.