Current Research Projects
"Is this the real life or just fantasy? Refugee reception, extreme-right voting, and broadband internet" (joint with Matteo Gamalerio, Mario Luca and Alessio Romarri)
How does the reception of refugees affect the electoral performance of extreme- right parties? Does the effect change across areas with heterogeneous access to broadband internet? Using data on Italian refugee centers and an instrumental variable approach based on pre-existing group accommodation buildings, we show that hosting refugees leads to a decrease in extreme-right parties’ vote shares. We estimate that municipalities that opened a refugee center between the 2013 and the 2018 national elections experienced a change in the votes shares of extreme-right parties approximately 7 percentage points lower than municipalities that did not open a refugee center. The negative effect is stronger for municipalities that opened smaller refugee centers and with lower access to broadband internet. [PDF] [SSRN]
"Dismantling the "Jungle": Refugee Relocation and Extreme Voting in France" (joint with Paul Vertier).
Can a small scale inflow of refugees affect electoral outcomes? If yes, do those effects have local spillovers? More specifically, what impact did the relocation of refugees from the Calais “Jungle” to temporary refugee-centres (CAOs) in France have on votes in favour of the right wing party “Front National” in the 2017 presidential election? We find that the presence of a CAO reduces the vote share increase of the Front National by about 13.3 percent compared to other municipalities. Given that we find no impact on local economic activity, those estimates point towards the contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954). In order to estimate the impact of refugee relocation on political outcomes we use an instrumental variables approach that relies on the size of holiday villages present in municipalities. Since this initial holiday villages were determined historically, the exclusion restriction is arguably warranted. There is evidence that the effects on electoral outcomes spatially dissipate. Exploring some heterogeneous effects we find that negative effects on the vote share of the Front National are stronger in larger municipalities with a higher share of immigrants and a higher share of younger people. To the contrary, the negative effect is lower in cities which volunteered to welcome migrants, which received more of them, and which were in contact with refugees for a shorter period of time. [PDF] [SSRN] [Cesifo WP 6927]
Media Coverage: Wall Street Journal, Alternatives Economiques
"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: Did immigration cause Brexit?"
Can immigration impact electoral outcomes and specifically, what impact did immigration have on the vote in favour of leaving the European Union (Brexit) in the UK? In particular, I focus on how the increase in Polish immigration, the major group of immigrants post 2004, affected votes in favour of leaving the EU. I find a percentage point increase in Polish immigration to the UK to have caused an increase in votes in favour of Brexit of about 2.72-3.12 percentage points, depending on the specification. To obtain exogenous variation in Polish immigration, I use a novel instrumental variables approach that relies on the fact that after WW2 Polish army officers fighting in the Royal Air Force were quasi randomly allocated to War Resettlement Camps (WRCs) all across the UK. Discussing potential mechanisms, I examine public opinion data in the British Election Study 2015 and find evidence of adversity towards immigration to be a root cause. Other considerations such as the National Health Service (NHS), incumbency and the general trust in politicians as well as the political institutions seem not to play a role. [PDF] [SSRN]
Winner of the Marcello de Cecco Prize in the History and Economics of Institutions. (Speech)
Media Coverage: Abruzzo News, Il Centro, Radio Radicale, Economia e Finanza Verde, Chieti Today