Working Paper
Giovanna D'Adda and Guido de Blasio. Working Paper. “Historical Legacy and Policy Effectiveness: the Long-Term Influence of pre-Unification Borders in Italy”.Abstract

This paper investigates the interplay between cultural traditions and policy effectiveness. It explores the differential impact of a large development program (Cassa per il Mezzogiorno), implemented for four decades, starting in the 1950s, to stimulate convergence between Italy’s South and the more developed North, on municipalities with different histories. Namely, we consider a sample of municipalities located on either side of the historical border of the Kingdom of Sicily, whose legacy is considered, from Putnam (1993) onwards, to be a prime-facie cause of Southern Italy’s underdevelopment. Having been part of the Kingdom of Sicily is associated with a negative impact of development policies, but only when the allocation of development funds through the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno suffered from low quality of governance and was driven by political considerations rather than by efficiency ones.

Mohammad Atari and Joseph Henrich. Working Paper. “Historical Psychology”. Preprint PDF
Nicola Fontana, Tommaso Nannicini, and Guido Tabellini. Working Paper. “"Historical Roots of Political Extremism: The Effects of Nazi Occupation of Italy."”.Abstract

The Italian civil war and the Nazi occupation of Italy occurred at a critical juncture, just before the birth of a new democracy and when, for the first time in a generation, Italians were choosing political affiliations and forming political identities. In this paper we study how these traumatic events shaped the new political system. We exploit geographic heterogeneity in the intensity and duration of the civil war, and the persistence of the battlefront along the “Gothic line” cutting through Northern-Central Italy. We find that the Communist Party gained votes in the post-war elections where the Nazi occupation and the civil war lasted longer, mainly at the expense of the centrist and catholic parties. This effect persists until the early 1990s. Evidence also suggests that this is due to an effect on political attitudes. Thus, the foreign occupation and the civil war left a lasting legacy of political extremism and polarization on the newborn Italian democracy.

Andrew T. Young. Working Paper. “"Hospitalitas"”.Abstract

Good government requires a constitution that demarcates what political agents can and cannot do, and such a constitution must be self-enforcing. The medieval West was characterized by the estates system, where the political power of monarchs was roughly balanced by that of a landed and militarized nobility. This rough balance of power contributed to a Western tradition of limited government and constitutional bargaining. I argue that this balance has important roots in the fifth and sixth century barbarian settlements that occurred within the frontiers of the declining Western Roman Empire. These settlements provided barbarians with allotments consisting of lands or claims to taxes due from those lands. These allotments aligned the incentives of barbarian warriors and Roman landowners; they also realigned (or newly aligned) the incentives of barbarian warriors and leadership elite as their roving confederacies became stationary kingdoms. Barbarian military forces became decentralized and the warriors became political powerful shareholders of the realm.

Charlotte Cavaille and Jeremy Ferwerda. Working Paper. “How Distributional Conflict over In-Kind Benefits Generates Support for Anti-Immigrant Parties”.Abstract
What role do material concerns play in activating support for anti-immigrant parties? Previous research has hypothesized the existence of a welfare state channel, in which citizens exposed to a decline in the net value of per capita transfers will be more supportive of anti-immigrant policies. Yet, evidence that the welfare state channel contributes to the rise of the Far Right at the national level is mixed. This paper focuses on social programs that provide geographically constrained in-kind goods as especially prone to creating distributional conflict between immigrants and natives. We leverage exogenous variation in the intensity of this conflict to identify its effect on electoral outcomes. We focus on Austria’s affordable housing program, which benefits a quarter of households. In 2006, a EU directive forced municipalities to open public housing to previously excluded immigrants. As we demonstrate, this reform sharply increased support for anti-immigrant parties in affected municipalities. More broadly, our findings suggest that populist parties may have benefited from the recent confluence of austerity measures and concerns surrounding the congestion of in-kind social benefits.
Fouirnaies. Working Paper. “How Do Campaign Spending Limits Affect Electoral Competition? Evidence from Great Britain, 1885-2010”.Abstract
In half of the democratic countries in the world, candidates face legal constraints on
how much money they can spend on their electoral campaigns, yet we know little about
the consequences of these restrictions. I study how spending limits affect electoral competition in British House of Commons elections. On the basis of archival material, I
have collected new data on the more than 58,000 candidates who ran for a parliamentary seat from 1885 to 2010, recording how much money each candidate spent, and the spending limit they faced. To identify causal effects, I exploit within-constituency variation in spending caps induced by reforms of the spending-limit formula that affected some, but not all constituencies. Consistent with theoretical predictions from a contest model, the results indicate that when the level of permitted spending is raised, campaigns become more expensive, fewer candidates run for offce, the proportion of wealthy candidates increases, and the nancial and electoral advantages enjoyed by incumbents are amplied.
Gary King and Melissa Sands. Working Paper. “How Human Subjects Research Rules Mislead You and Your University, and What to Do About it”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Universities require faculty and students planning research involving human subjects to pass formal certification tests and then submit research plans for prior approval. Those who diligently take the tests may better understand certain important legal requirements but, at the same time, are often misled into thinking they can apply these rules to their own work which, in fact, they are not permitted to do. They will also be missing many other legal requirements not mentioned in their training but which govern their behaviors. Finally, the training leaves them likely to completely misunderstand the essentially political situation they find themselves in. The resulting risks to their universities, collaborators, and careers may be catastrophic, in addition to contributing to the more common ordinary frustrations of researchers with the system. To avoid these problems, faculty and students conducting research about and for the public need to understand that they are public figures, to whom different rules apply, ones that political scientists have long studied. University administrators (and faculty in their part-time roles as administrators) need to reorient their perspectives as well. University research compliance bureaucracies have grown, in well-meaning but sometimes unproductive ways that are not required by federal laws or guidelines. We offer advice to faculty and students for how to deal with the system as it exists now, and suggestions for changes in university research compliance bureaucracies, that should benefit faculty, students, staff, university budgets, and our research subjects.

Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Edward Miguel, Daniel N. Posner, Bertil Tungodden, and Kelly Zhang. Working Paper. “"How Strong are Ethnic Preferences?"”.Abstract

Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, especially in Africa, but the underlying reasons remain contested, with multiple mechanisms potentially playing a role. We utilize lab experiments to isolate the role of one such mechanism—ethnic preferences—which have been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnic differences. We employ an unusually rich research design, collecting multiple rounds of experimental data with a large sample of 1,300 subjects in Nairobi; employing within-lab priming conditions; and utilizing both standard and novel experimental measures, including implicit association tests. The econometric approach was pre-specified in a registered pre-analysis plan. Most of our tests yield no evidence of coethnic bias. The results run strongly against the common presumption of extensive ethnic bias among ordinary Kenyans, and suggest that other mechanisms may be more important in explaining the negative association between ethnic diversity and economic and political outcomes.

Gene Grossman and Elhanan Helpman. Working Paper. “Identity Politics and Trade Policy”.Abstract
We characterize trade policies that result from political competition when assessments of wellbeing include both material and psychosocial components. The material component reflects, as usual, satisfaction from consumption. Borrowing from social identity theory, we take the psychosocial component as combining the pride and self-esteem an individual draws from the status of groups with which she identi…es and a dissonance cost she bears from identifying with those that are di¤erent from herself. In this framework, changes in social identification patterns that may result, for example, from increased income inequality or heightened racial and ethnic tensions, lead to pronounced changes in trade policy. We analyze the nature of these policy changes.
Adam Bonica and Gary W. Cox. Working Paper. “"Ideological Extremists in the U.S. Congress: Out of step but still in office."”.Abstract
In the last generation, congressional moderates have become ideologically more extreme over the course of their careers. We explain this "ideological migration" of moderates as a side effect of close partisan competition for control of the US House since 1994. Competition for the House caused activists, donors and, indirectly, voters to focus on the battle for majority status. Increased attention to partisan competition reduced individual members' ability to escape blame for their parties' actions. Equivalently, it meant that members could deviate from their district preferences and pay a lower electoral penalty; they would be blamed in any event. Our empirical analysis shows that party-centeredness abruptly and dramatically increased after 1994, with the electoral penalty members paid for being out of step with their constituents correspondingly declining. This contributed to an important, albeit complicated, shift from local/personal to national/party representation.
Stephen Ansolabehere and Socorro M Puy. Working Paper. “"Ideology, Nationalism, and Identity in Basque Regional Elections"”.Abstract

Parliamentary elections to the Basque Autonomous Community have a stable multi-party system that regularly produces long-lived minority and coalition governments. More amazing still, this stable party system arises in the context of a complex social and political setting in which the society cleaves along at least two lines –left-right ideology and nationalism –and in which people have strong identities tied to the Basque language and culture. This paper analyzes voting behavior in parliamentary elections in this region to understand how the left-right ideology, nationalism, and identity sustain this party system. We extend the conventional spatial voting model to incorporate identity issues. Our empirical analysis shows that left-right ideology, nationalism (or regional autonomy) and identity strongly predict vote choice. Interestingly, the analysis suggests that identity politics both polarizes voting and sustains a stable multi-party

Merih Angin, Albana Shehaj, and Adrian J. Shin. Working Paper. “IMF: International Migration Fund”.Abstract
Existing models of international organizations focus on the strategic and special interests of major shareholders to explain why some countries can secure better deals from international organizations. Focusing on the International Monetary Fund, we argue that migration is an important consideration among the IMF’s major shareholders. Stringent loan conditions often exacerbate short-term economic distress in the recipient country, which in turn, causes more people to migrate to countries where their co-ethnics reside. Therefore, major IMF shareholders that host a large number of nationals from the recipient country face a disproportionately high level of migration pressure when the IMF places demanding loan conditions on the recipient country. Since the citizens of major IMF shareholder countries tend to oppose immigration in-flows, we argue policymakers from these countries will pressure the IMF to minimize short-term adjustment costs in the recipient country when they host a large number of the country’s nationals. Analyzing all IMF programs from 1978 to 2013, we test our hypothesis that IMF recipients with larger diasporas in the major IMF shareholder countries tend to secure better deals from the IMF. Our findings confirm that when migration pressures on G5 countries are present, recipient countries receive larger loan disbursements and more lenient labor conditions.
Anthony Edo, Yvonne Giesing, Jonathan Oztunc, and Panu Poutvaara. Working Paper. “Immigration and Electoral Support for the Far-Left and the Far-Right”.Abstract
Immigration is one of the most divisive political issues in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and several other Western countries. We estimate the impact of immigration on voting for far-left and far-right candidates in France, using panel data on presidential elections from 1988 to 2017. To derive causal estimates, we instrument more recent immigration flows by settlement patterns in 1968. We find that immigration increases support for far-right candidates. This is driven by low-educated immigrants from non-Western countries. We also find that immigration has a weak negative effect on support for far-left candidates, which could be explained by a reduced support for redistribution. We corroborate our analysis with a multinomial choice analysis using survey data.
Alberto Alesina, Armando Miano, and Stefanie Statcheva. Working Paper. “Immigration and Redistribution.”.Abstract
We design and conduct large-scale surveys and experiments in six countries to investigate how natives perceive immigrants and how perceptions influence their preferences for redistribution. We find strikingly large biases in natives' perceptions of the number and characteristics of immigrants: in all countries, respondents greatly overestimate the total number of immigrants, think immigrants are culturally and religiously more distant from them, and are economically weaker — less educated, more unemployed, poorer, and more reliant on government transfers — than is the case. While all respondents have misperceptions, those with the largest ones are systematically the right-wing, the non college-educated, and the low-educated working in immigration-intensive sectors. Support for redistribution is strongly correlated with the perceived composition of immigrants — their origin and economic contribution — rather than with the perceived share of immigrants per se. Given the very negative baseline views that respondents have of immigrants, simply making them think about immigration in a randomized manner makes them support less redistribution, including actual donations to charities. We also experimentally show respondents information about the true i) number, ii) origin, and iii) “hard work” of immigrants in their country. On its own, information on the \hard work" of immigrants generates more support for redistribution. However, if people are also prompted to think in detail about immigrants' characteristics, then none of these favorable information treatments manages to counteract their negative priors that generate lower support for redistribution.
Anna Maria Mayda, Giovanni Peri, and Walter Steingress. Working Paper. “Immigration to the U.S.: A Problem for the Republicans or the Democrats?”.Abstract

We empirically analyze the impact of immigration to the U.S. on the share of votes to the Republicans and Democrats between 1994 and 2012. Our analysis is based on variation across states and years – using data from the Current Population Survey merged with election data – and addresses the endogeneity of immigrant flows using a novel set of instruments. On average across election types, immigration to the U.S. has a significant and negative impact on the Republican vote share, consistent with the typical view of political analysts in the U.S. This average effect – which is driven by elections in the House – works through two main channels. The impact of immigration on Republican votes in the House is negative when the share of naturalized migrants in the voting population increases. Yet, it can be positive when the share of non-citizen migrants out of the population goes up and the size of migration makes it a salient policy issue in voters’ minds. These results are consistent with naturalized migrants being less likely to vote for the Republican Party than native voters and with native voters’ political preferences moving towards the Republican Party because of high immigration of non-citizens. This second effect, however, is significant only for very high levels of immigrant presence.

Lisa Blaydes and Christopher Paik. Working Paper. “"The Impact of Holy Land Crusades on State Formation: War Mobilization, Trade Integration, and Political Development in Medieval Europe"”.Abstract

Holy Land crusades were among the most significant forms of military mobilization to take place during the medieval period. This paper argues that crusader mobilization had important implications for European state formation. We find that areas with large numbers of Holy Land crusaders witnessed increased political stability and institutional development as well as greater urbanization associated with rising trade and capital accumulation, even after taking into account underlying levels of religiosity and economic development. Our findings contribute to a scholarly debate regarding when the essential elements of the modern state first began to appear. While our causal mechanisms -- which focus on the importance of war preparation and urban capital accumulation -- resemble those emphasized by Tilly (1992), we date the point of critical transition to statehood centuries earlier, in line with scholars who emphasize the medieval origins of the modern state. We also point to one avenue by which the rise of Muslim military and political power may have impacted European institutional development.

Susan Athey. Working Paper. “"The Impact of Machine Learning on Economics."”.Abstract
This paper provides an assessment of the early contributions of machine learning to economics, as well as predictions about its future contributions. It begins by briefly overviewing some themes from the literature on machine learning, and then draws some contrasts with traditional approaches to estimating the impact of counterfactual policies in economics. Next, we review some of the initial "off-the-shelf" applications of machine learning to economics, including applications in analyzing text and images. We then describe new types of questions that have been posed surrounding the application of machine learning to policy problems, including "prediction policy problems," as well as considerations of fairness and manipulability. We present some highlights from the merging
econometric literature combining machine learning and causal inference. Finally, we overview a set of broader predictions about the future impact of machine learning on economics, including its impacts on the nature of collaboration, funding, research tools, and research questions.
Working Paper. The Implementation of the Convention de Belem do Para in Colombia and Peru - University of Chicago, International Human Rights Clinic, May 22. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School.Abstract

The presentation analyzes case studies from Peru and Colombia in order to determine the effectiveness of Belem do Para on a state level.

David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon Hanson, and Kaveh Majlesi. Working Paper. “"Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure."”.Abstract

Has rising trade integration between the U.S. and China contributed to the polarization of U.S. politics? Analyzing outcomes from the 2002 and 2010 congressional elections, we detect an ideological realignment that is centered in trade-exposed local labor markets and that commences prior to the divisive 2016 U.S. presidential election. Exploiting the exogenous component of rising trade with China and classifying legislator ideologies by their congressional voting record, we find strong evidence that congressional districts exposed to larger increases in import competition disproportionately removed moderate representatives from office in the 2000s. Trade-exposed districts initially in Republican hands become substantially more likely to elect a conservative Republican, while trade-exposed districts initially in Democratic hands become more likely to elect either a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Polarization is also evident when breaking down districts by race: trade-exposed locations with a majority white population are disproportionately likely to replace moderate legislators with conservative Republicans, whereas locations with a majority non-white population tend to replace moderates with liberal Democrats. In contrast with much previous work in political science, we find limited impacts of economic shocks on the probability of party turnover (an anti-incumbency effect) or on the electoral vote shares of the major parties (a party realignment effect). Focusing on legislator behavior rather than on party vote counts, we find that trade exposure abets the replacement of incumbents from both parties with more ideologically strident successors.

Peter Backus and Alejandro Esteller-More. Working Paper. “"Is Income Redistribution a Form of Insurance, a Public Good, or Both?"”.Abstract

This paper is an empirical study of redistributive preferences. Our interest is what motivates net contributors to support redistributive policies. Using instrumental variable estimation and exploiting a particularity of the Spanish labour market we estimate how workers’ declared preferences for unemployment benefits spending respond to changes in the local unemployment rate. We then decompose this response into the part explained by risk aversion, and thus demand for insurance, and the part explained by the public goods nature of redistribution. Our results suggest that the declared preferences of workers for unemployment benefits spending are driven by demand for insurance rather than any public goods component. We show how these results suggest that preferences for redistribution in the form of unemployment benefits are driven by insurance considerations rather than by any public goods consideration.