In the academic year 2019-20, the European PhD in Socio-Economic and Statistical Studies will host three series of thematic seminars - on the economics and sociology of populism, in economic history, and in behavioral economics - and series of seminars on various topics.

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

Finally, our PhD 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.

Seminars will start from May, 2020. Confirmed speakers are (as for October 2019):

Seminars on the economics of populism

Maria Carreri (University of California San Diego) - Like Voters, Like Politicians. Descriptive Representation and the Rise of Populist Parties in Europe
Rama Dasi Mariani (Università di Roma Tor Vergata) - Hate at first sight? Dynamic aspects of the electoral impact of migration: the case of Ukip
Guido De Blasio (Banca d'Italia) - Populist voting and loosers' discontent: Does redistribution matter?
Nicolò Fraccaroli (Università di Roma Tor Vergata & Bank of England) - Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?
Marco Le Moglie (Università Bocconi) - The Persistent Effects of Corruption and the Rise of Populism in Italy
Francesco Sobbrio (Luiss Guido Carli) - Pinocchio Goes to Politics: Voters' Response to Fact-Checking

Seminars in economic history

Emanuele Felice (Università di Chieti-Pescara) - Crescita e diritti umani tra capitalismo e democrazia
Andrea Gentili (Università di Bologna) - Is the cake increasing? The wellbeing of Italians since unification
Nuno Palma (University of Manchester) - The persistence of monetary non-neutrality: evidence from a historical natural experiment
Francesco Sobbrio (Luiss Guido Carli) - War of the Waves: Radio and Resistance During World War II

Seminars in behavioral economics

Fulvio Castellacci (University of Oslo) - Internet use and well-being
Caterina Giannetti (Università di Pisa) - Individual incentive vs public support: an experiment on motivation crowding and social trust
David Loschiavo (Banca d'Italia) - Big-city life (dis)satisfaction? The effect of urban living on subjective well-being
Francesco Manaresi (Banca d'Italia) - Born in Hard Times: Startups and Intangible Investments During the Crisis
Marcella Nicolini (Pavia) - Media and terrorism: a symbiotic relationship?

Seminars by PhD candidates

Concetta Danese (Sapienza Università di Roma) - The electoral outcomes of fake news: evidence from Italy
Jessica Di Cocco (Sapienza Università di Roma) - Is populism polarising politics?
Andrea Fazio (Sapienza Università di Roma) - Minimum wage programs and preferences for inequality
Vito Mariella (Sapienza Università di Roma) - Landownership concentration and human capital: evidence from Post-Unification Italy (1871-1921)

Seminars by board members

Flaviana Palmisano: Gender equality and poverty are intrinsically linked
Carmelo Parello: Migration and Macroeconomic Stability: The Role of Immigrants' Networks
Tommaso Reggiani: Selection effects of social incentives: A natural field experiment
Mauro Rota: Inherited culture, institutions and economic development in Italy
Fabio Sabatini: Broadband Internet and religion
Marco Ventura: The impact of the "Renzi bonus" on consumers behavior

Some of the seminars held in the last academic year are listed below.

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.
Giovanni Vecchi (Università di Roma Tor Vergata): On the use of composite indices in economic history. Lessons from Italy, 1861-2017
We argue against the use of composite indices, such as the Human Development Index, in economic history. We show that composite indices can be interpreted as paternalistic social welfare functions (PSWF), and therefore are nothing more than a formal representation of the analyst’s ethical system. This contrasts with the use economic historians typically make of composite indices, as tools to lend objectivity to the measurement of multidimensional phenomena. We support our claim by introducing a new constant-elasticity-of-substitution SWF family, which a) encompasses all composite indices put forth by the literature, and b) identifies the analyst’s implicit preferences by means of standard tools, e.g. marginal rates of substitution and elasticity of substitution parameters. The theoretical framework is illustrated by an empirical investigation of the long-run evolution of Italians’ living standards (1861-2017). We show how any history based on composite indices is one where both data and history play a minor role, if any.
Caterina Giannetti (Università di Pisa): The effects of Privacy Concerns on Social Network Formation
We study the impact of revealing personal information on the selection of partners when forming individual networks. In our experiment, a “contribution phase” is followed by a “network phase”: individuals first decide whether to contribute and then decide with whom to form a link. An exchange of contributions between individuals occurs only if a bilateral link is established. We identify the effect of revealing one's name on the probability of link formation by letting individuals choose to signal – at the linking stage – their willingness to later reveal their name. Our results indicate that this decision significantly affects partner selection and the consequent structure of the network. Individuals who reveal their name build up smaller individual networks but attain higher profits. Incurring privacy costs by revealing personal information is compensated with a higher probability to establish mutual links with contributors.
Luigi Guiso (EIEF): Tax accountants: tax-evasion facilitators or information hubs?
We use tax records data for the population of sole proprietorship taxpayers in seven regions of Italy to study the role of tax accountants. We first document that taxpayers evasion is systematically correlated with the average evasion of other customers of the same accountant. We then exploit the unique structure of our data-set to study the channels through which these social spillover effects are generated. Guided by an equilibrium model of tax compliance with tax accountants and auditing, we highlight two mechanisms that may be behind this phenomenon:self-selectionof taxpayers who sort themselves out into accountants of heterogeneous tolerance for tax evasion; andinformational externalitiesgenerated by the tax accountant activities. We provide evidence supporting the presence of both mechanisms
Marco Ventura (Sapienza University of Rome): TVDIFF: estimation of pre- and post-treatment average treatment effects with binary time-varying treatment using Stata
tvdiff estimates Average Treatment Effects (ATEs) when the treatment is binary and varying over time. Using tvdiff, the user can estimate the pre- and post-intervention effects by selecting the pre and post intervention periods, also by plotting the results in a easy-to-read graphical representation. Also, in order to assess the reliability of the causal results achieved by the user's specified model, tvdiff allows to test both the "common trend" assumption, and the degree of "balancing" achieved by the user's specified model. Thus, the model estimated by tvdiff can be seen as a generalization of the Difference-In-Differences (DID) approach to the case of many post- and pre-intervention times.
Joseph Zeira (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Automation and Unemployment: Help is on the Way
This paper presents a model of technical change that combines two lines of research together. It is a task based model, in which automation turns labor tasks to mechanized ones, and there is also a continuous addition of new labor tasks, as in the expanding variety literature. We impose three simple restrictions on the model. The first is that all new tasks are adopted. The second is that all new automations are adopted and the third is that the share of labor does not converge to zero in the long run. We show that these restrictions imply that unemployment due to automation is expected to converge to zero over time.
Gabriel Felbermayr (IFO Institute): Firm Dynamics and Residual Inequality in Open Economies
Wage inequality between similar workers has been on the rise in many rich countries. Recent empirical research suggests that heterogeneity in firm characteristics is crucial to understand wage dispersion. Lower trade costs as well as labor and product market reforms are considered critical drivers of inequality dynamics. We ask how these factors affect wage dispersion and how much of their effect on inequality is attributable to changes in wage dispersion between and within firms. To tackle these questions, we incorporate directed job search into a dynamic model of international trade where wage inequality results from the interplay of convex adjustment costs with firms’ different hiring needs along their life cycles. Fitting the model to German linked employer–employee data for the years 1996–2009, we find that firm heterogeneity explains about half of the surge in inequality. The most important mechanism is tougher product market competition driven by domestic product market deregulation and, indirectly, by international trade.
Fabio Sabatini (Sapienza University of Rome): Civility and trust in social media
Social media have been credited with the potential of reinvigorating trust by offering new opportunities for social and political participation. This view has been recently challenged by the rising phenomenon of online incivility, which has made the environment of social networking sites hostile to many users. We conduct a novel experiment in a Facebook setting to study how the effect of social media on trust varies depending on the civility or incivility of online interaction. We find that participants exposed to civil Facebook interaction are significantly more trusting. In contrast, when the use of Facebook is accompanied by the experience of online incivility, no significant changes occur in users’ behavior. These results are robust to alternative configurations of the treatments.
Fabio Sabatini (Sapienza University of Rome): Repeated shocks and preferences for redistribution
A society that believes wealth to be determined by random “luck” rather than by merit,demands more redistribution. The theoretical literature shows that any increase in the volatility of income caused by unpredictable adverse shocks implies a higher support for redistribution. We present evidence of this behavior by exploiting a natural experiment provided by the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009, which hit a large area of Central Italy through a series of destructive shakes over eight days. Matching detailed information on the ground acceleration registered during each shock with survey data about individual opinions on redistribution we show that the average intensity of the shakes is associated with subsequent stronger beliefs that, for a society to be fair, income inequalities should be levelled by redistribution. The shocks, however, are not all alike. We find that only the last three shakes - occurred on the fourth and the eighth day of the earthquake - have a statistically significant impact. Overall, we find that the timing and repetition of the shock play a role in shaping redistributive preferences.
Nicola Borri (Luiss): Wealth taxes and inequality
We analyze the optimal combination of wealth and labor tax rates in a model where wealth-to-income ratios and wealth inequality are rising endogenously due to unbalanced technological improvement in a two-sector economy. We consider rich and poor households, financial and housing wealth, and find that a "realistic" optimal steady state tax structure includes some taxation of labor, zero taxation of financial wealth, a housing wealth tax on rich households and a housing wealth subsidy on poor households. These findings are robust with respect to variations in the housing demand elasticity.

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