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.

Working papers

Cultural Transmission and Political Attitudes: Explaining Differences between Natives and Immigrants in Western Europe [PDF]

with Jerome Gonnot, CEPII, R&R at Journal of Population Economics

Abstract: This paper uses data from the European Social Survey to document the political assimilation of immigrants and examine the role of cultural transmission in facilitating this process in 23 European countries. We find that foreign-born immigrants display attitudes towards redistribution and gay rights that are similar to those natives living in the same country, but exhibit more positive attitudes towards European integration, immigration policy, and trust in political institutions. These differences tend to increase with immigrants' age at the time of migration, but the gap in attitudes towards immigration policy and trust in political institutions diminishes with immigrants' time spent at destination, ultimately closing after approximately 25 and 15 years, respectively. Moreover, regional culture emerges as a significant factor in shaping the political attitudes of first-generation immigrants on redistribution, gay rights, immigration policy and trust in political institutions. Further analysis reveals that the convergence of immigrants to regional culture and the political preferences of native-born peers with whom they interact is strongly influenced by the degree of exposure to the host environment. With the exception of trust in political institutions, assimilation patterns suggest that political attitudes are largely immune to cultural transmission at destination. Instead, the convergence of attitudes towards gay rights and immigration policy between immigrants and natives appears to be influenced, respectively, by self-selection and local economic conditions, while the mechanism underlying this effect for redistribution remains elusive

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.