In the academic year 2021-22, the European Ph.D. in Socio-Economic and Statistical Studies will host three series of thematic seminars in the fields of Political economics, Economic History, and Behavioral economics - and a residual series of seminars on various topics of interest to our Ph.D. students and board members.

Two additional series of seminars will be held by the members of our scientific board and by our Ph.D. candidates. In the first series, our board members will present their most recent works to illustrate their current research activity. In the second series, Ph.D. candidates present their job market paper.

Moreover, our Ph.D. students will attend the seminars jointly organized by the Department of Economics and Law and by the Department of Social and Economic Sciences at Sapienza.

Finally, the program's director, prof. Sabatini distributes to Ph.D. students a weekly newsletter collecting the upcoming seminars to be held all over the world that can be freely accessed via Zoom.

Some of the seminars to be held this year are listed below.


Domenico Moramarco (Université Libre de Bruxelles) - Inter-temporal Inequality of Opportunity

We propose an axiomatic approach to characterize normative criteria for the evaluation of lifetime income distributions according to the opportunity egalitarian perspective (Roemer, 1998). In a setting in which both individual incomes and predetermined circumstances are variable over time, we adopt a norm-based approach to the measurement of inequality, and propose two different benchmark distributions, referring respectively to the ex ante and the ex post versions of equality of opportunity. We first aggregate over time, thereby characterizing measures of inter-temporal individual inequality of opportunity, and then aggregate the individual measures into a societal measure. Our individual measure results to be a weighted average of individuals’ opportunity gap experienced in each period. Our aggregate measure is an average of a concave transformation of the individual inter-temporal opportunity gap and can be interpreted as an inter-temporal inequality of opportunity index. We apply our framework to evaluate the Korean distribution of income from an inter-temporal and opportunity egalitarian perspective.
Stepan Mikula (Masaryk University) - Air Pollution and Migration: Exploiting a Natural Experiment from the Czech Republic

This paper examines the causal effects of air pollution on migration by exploiting a natural experiment in which desulfurization technologies were rapidly implemented in coal-burning power plants in the Czech Republic without per se affecting economic activity. The results based on a difference-in-differences estimator imply that improvements in air quality reduced emigration from previously heavily polluted municipalities by 24%. We find that the effect of air pollution on emigration tended to be larger in municipalities with weaker social capital and fewer man-made amenities.
Gianluca Grimalda (Kiel Institute for the World Economy) - Social image concerns promote cooperation more than altruistic punishment

Human cooperation is enigmatic, as organisms are expected, by evolutionary and economic theory, to act principally in their own interests. However, cooperation requires individuals to sacrifice resources for each other’s benefit. We conducted a series of novel experiments in a foraging society where social institutions make the study of social image and punishment particularly salient. Participants played simple cooperation games where they could punish non-cooperators, promote a positive social image or do so in combination with one another. We show that although all these mechanisms raise cooperation above baseline levels, only when social image alone is at stake do average economic gains rise significantly above baseline. Punishment, either alone or combined with social image building, yields lower gains. Individuals’ desire to establish a positive social image thus emerges as a more decisive factor than punishment in promoting human cooperation.
Emma Tominey (University of York) - Mental Health around Pregnancy and Child Development from Early Childhood to Adolescence

We identify the causal effect of mothers' mental health during early - and soon after pregnancy on a range of child psychological, socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes measured between ages 4-16. Results suggest a negative effect on children's psychological and socio-emotional skills in early childhood, but these effects fade-out between the ages of 11-13. We find no significant effect on cognitive outcomes. The fade-out of effects may be partly explained by compensatory behaviour of parents, as we find that mental health during or soon after pregnancy raises breastfeeding and improves measures of interaction between mother and child.
Gianluca Mazzarella (JRC) - Two Generations of Siblings and Cousins Correlations Across the Ancestors’ Wealth Distribution

We reconstruct the genealogical tree of all individuals ever appearing in Dutch municipalities records starting in 1995. Using microdata from tax authorities, we compute a measure of their permanent earnings and assess the degree to which pairs of cousins and siblings correlate across two cohorts, those born around the 50s and those born around the 80s. We find that cousins and siblings correlations in earnings vary substantially across ancestors' wealth quantiles. In particular, those having ancestors in the bottom decile, show a much higher correlation in earnings. Further, the intergenerational transmission parameter, estimated through a latent factor model without assuming a steady state process, is much stronger for those families whose ancestors left no inheritance. Even in the relatively equal and wealthy Netherlands, misfortunes are transmitted across generations.
Mattia Nardotto (KU Leuven) - Internet and Politics: Evidence from U.K. Local Elections and Local Government Policies

We empirically study the effects of broadband internet diffusion on local election outcomes and on local government policies using rich data from the U.K. Our analysis shows that the internet has displaced other media with greater news content (i.e. radio and newspapers), thereby decreasing voter turnout, most notably among less-educated and younger individuals. In turn, we find suggestive evidence that local government expenditures and taxes are lower in areas with greater broadband diffusion, particularly expenditures targeted at less-educated voters. Our findings are consistent with the idea that voters’ information plays a key role in determining electoral participation, government policies, and government size.
François Velde (FED Chicago) - A Model of Economic Activity in San Francisco During the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

I jointly use daily data on deaths and public transportation ridership in San Francisco in 1918–19 to estimate a model in which agents choose their level of economic activity based on perceived infection risk, modeled as a function of current and lagged infections or deaths. Agents’ choices in turn affect the dynamics of the epidemic by reducing contacts in an otherwise standard SEIR model. Non-pharmaceutical interventions restrict agents’ activity either as a tax or a bound. I estimate the parameters by maximum likelihood and use the best-fitting model to compute counterfactuals. San Francisco’s intervention reduced deaths by a few percent only, and it was away from the Pareto frontier: an earlier and milder intervention would have done better. The behavioral feedback narrows the room for intervention compared to a model with unresponsive agents, and ill-timed interventions can worsen outcomes. Masks also had an effect on transmission rates.
Nuno Palma (University of Manchester and CEPR) - The real effects of monetary expansions: evidence from a large-scale historical experiment

The discovery of massive deposits of precious metals in America during the early modern period caused an exogenous monetary injection to Europe’s money supply. I use this episode to identify the causal effects of money. Using a panel of six European countries, I find that monetary expansions had a material impact on real economic activity. The magnitudes are substantial and persist for a long time: an exogenous 10% increase in the production of precious metals in America measured relative to the European stock leads to a front-loaded response of output and, to a lesser extent, inflation. There was a positive hump-shaped response of real GDP, with a cumulative increase up to 0.9% six to nine years later. The evidence suggests that this is because prices responded to monetary injections with considerable lags.
Nuno Palma (University of Manchester and CEPR) - The vagaries of the sea: evidence on the real effects of money from maritime disasters in the Spanish Empire

We exploit a recurring natural experiment to identify the effects of money supply shocks on the economy: Maritime disasters in the silver fleets of the Spanish Empire (1531-1810). A permanent 1% reduction in the money supply led to a 1.3% drop in real output that persisted for around four years. The price level fell permanently, but with a lag. Our estimated model attributes half of the initial output response to nominal rigidities, and much of the response’s persistence to credit market frictions.
Claudio Deiana (University of Cagliari) - Migration at Sea: Unintended Consequences of Search and Rescue Operations

The Central Mediterranean Sea is the world’s most dangerous crossing for irregular migrants. In response to mounting deaths, European nations intensified search and rescue operations in 2013. We develop a model of irregular migration to identify the effects of these operations. Leveraging plausibly exogenous variation from rapidly varying crossing conditions, we find that smugglers responded by sending boats in adverse weather and shifting from seaworthy boats to flimsy rafts. In doing so, these operations induced more crossings, ultimately offsetting their intended safety benefits. A more successful policy should restrict the supply of rafts and expand legal alternatives to irregular migration.
Eugenio Levi (Bozen University) - Hate at first sight? Dynamic aspects of the electoral impact of migration: the case of Ukip

In this paper, we test the hypothesis that the causal effect of immigrant presence on anti-immigrant votes is a short-run effect. For this purpose, we consider a distributed lag model and adapt the standard instrumental variable approach proposed by Altonji and Card (1991) to a dynamic framework. The evidence from our case study, votes for the UK Independent Party (Ukip) in recent European elections, supports our hypothesis. Furthermore, we find that this effect is robust to differences across areas in terms of population density and socioeconomic characteristics, and it is only partly explained by integration issues.
Anna Conte (Sapienza University of Rome) - The Multivariate Heterogeneous Preference Estimator for Switching Multiple Price List Data

The use of Multiple Price Lists to elicit individuals' risk preferences is widespread. To model data collected through this method, we introduce the Multivariate Random Preference (MRP) estimator, specifically designed for the \switching" variant of such lists. This is a new estimation approach that enables us to exploit all available information derived from subjects' switch points in the lists. Monte Carlo simulations show that our estimator is consistent and has good small-sample properties. The estimator is derived for a two-parameter model in a risky context.
Miloš Fišar (Vienna Economics and Business University) - Media bias and tax compliance

We study the impact of media bias on tax compliance. Through a framed laboratory experiment,we assess how the exposure to biased news about government action affects compliance in arepeated taxation game. Subjects treated with positive news are significantly more compliantthan the control group. The exposure to negative news, instead, does not prompt any significantreaction in respect to the neutral condition, suggesting that participants perceive the media negativitybias in the selection and tonality of news as the norm rather than the exception. Overall, our resultssuggest that biased news act as a constant source of psychological priming and play a vital rolein taxpayers’ compliance decisions.
David Loschiavo (Banca d'Italia) - Big-city life (dis)satisfaction? The effect of urban living on subjective well-being

This paper investigates the effect of big-city life on individuals' well-being. Combining data on Italian municipalities' characteristics with individual-level survey data, I find that city size negatively affects subjective well-being. This association is not driven by omitted variable bias or by spatial sorting of citizens. Commute time accounts for most of the differences in subjective well-being among cities of different size. There is suggestive evidence that the negative effect of commuting on well-being is caused by reduced time availability for fostering personal relationships and engaging in leisure activities. This finding suggests that interventions reducing the amount of time people spend in an unpleasant state can spur agglomeration economies and their contribution to aggregate productivity and growth.
Francesco Sobbrio (LUISS): War of the Waves: Radio and Resistance during World War II

We analyze the role of the media in coordinating and mobilizing insurgency against an authoritarian regime, in the context of the Nazi-fascist occupation of Italy during WWII. We study the effect of BBC radio on the intensity of internal resistance. By exploiting variations in monthly sunspot activity that affect the sky-wave propagation of BBC broadcasting toward Italy, we show that BBC radio had a strong impact on political violence. We provide further evidence to document that BBC radio played an important role in coordinating resistance activities but had no lasting role in motivating the population against the Nazi-fascist regime.
Marco Le Moglie (Università Bocconi) - The Persistent Effects of Corruption and the Rise of Populism in Italy

The paper studies the long term impact of corruption on trust towards institutions. Previous studies have demonstrated that exposure to corruption may lower institutional trust in the short run. Whether those short term effects translate into a persistent effect is not known. We study the onset of a corruption shock that took place in Italy between 1992 and 1994. Using recent data from the Trustlab project, coordinated by the OECD, we find that young first time voters exposed to the corruption scandal still today, 25 years later, exert significantly lower institutional trust. A follow up survey reveals that their exposure to corruption also affected their current voting preferences. In particular, those young first time voters exposed to the corruption were more likely to prefer populist parties at the 2018 national elections.
Nicolò Fraccaroli (Università di Roma Tor Vergata & Bank of England) - Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?

We study the impact of fake news on votes for populist parties in the Italian elections of2018. Our empirical strategy exploits the presence of Italian- and German-speaking votersin the Italian region of Trentino Alto-Adige/Südtirol as an exogenous source of assignmentto fake news exposure. Using municipal data, we compare the effect of exposure to fakenews on the vote for populist parties in the 2013 and 2018 elections. To do so, we introducea novel indicator of populism using text mining on the Facebook posts of Italian partiesbefore the elections. We find that exposure to fake news is positively correlated with votefor populist parties, but that less than half of this correlation is causal. Our findingssupport the view that exposure to fake news (i) favours populist parties, but also that (ii)it is positively correlated with prior support for populist parties, suggesting a self-selectionmechanism.
Guido De Blasio (Banca d'Italia) - Populist voting and loosers' discontent: Does redistribution matter?

Economic roots of populism in Western countries are quite well understood but much less is known about policy implications. We study a large redistribution program that conveyed, within the EU cohesion framework, a relevant amount of money to some Italian municipalities. Our identification strategy is based on a spatial regression discontinuity design, which exploits the allocation rule of funds. We focus on the 2013 general elections and show that municipalities favored by redistribution exhibit a drop in populism of about 5% of the mean of the dependent variable.
Maria Carreri (University of California San Diego) - Economic Recessions and Congressional Preferencesfor Redistribution

We study if U.S. Members of Congress who experienced an economic recessionduring early adulthood vote differently on redistribution-specific bills. We find thatpoliticians who experienced a recession hold more conservative positions on redistribu-tion, even compared to members of the same party. In light of recent empirical evidenceshowing that voters become more supportive of redistribution following a recession, ourfindings suggest that macroeconomic shocks might have a polarizing effect: recessionscan create an ideological wedge between voters and their future representatives. Wehypothesize, and present evidence suggesting that, this wedge might be explained bypoliticians’ more privileged background.

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