Job Market Paper
Italians First: Refugee Reception Policy and National Identity [PDF]
Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of intergroup contact with immigrants on the attachment to national identity among natives. During the European refugee crisis, the Italian government implemented an emergency reception policy to face the unprecedented number of refugees. Using administrative data on the universe of reception centers opened between 2014 and 2018 and exploiting time and geographic variation in the opening of such centers, I first examine the effect of contact with refugees on behavior-based proxies of attachment to the nation. I find that the presence of refugees reduces support for regionalist political movements and increases the likelihood of voting for parties promoting national unity and identity. Treated municipalities also show an increased level of social capital, proxied by organ donation consents. Moreover, I observe that towns which hosted a reception center experience a significant increase in expenditures for non-excludable goods, transfers received from other levels of government and tax revenues. Finally, I construct an index of national identity by leveraging on rich data from Google Trends on terms related to Italian culture. Results show a significant increase in the search for these terms in municipalities that experienced intergroup contact. Overall, the evidence suggests that intergroup contact favored the strengthening of national identity among Italians.
Opportunity makes a thief: corruption, electoral accountability and infrastructure PPPs in developing countries - draft available upon request
Abstract: How does the quality of political and administrative institutions in developing countries impact investments in infrastructure? This work tests two contrasting theories on the role of corruption and electoral accountability in determining the frequency and magnitudes of Public Private Partnerships in infrastructure projects. Using a combination of instrumental variables and electoral cycles dummies, I study a panel dataset of 1201 PPPs in 136 developing countries. The results point to a negative impact of corruption on the number of projects signed and on the total amount of financial resources invested. This effect, though, is reversed in periods of higher electoral accountability, in which both the frequency of PPPs and the total amount of resources invested increase.