I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Research Associate at CAGE Warwick.
My research interests are Applied Microeconomics, Political Economy and Economic History. Wider fields of interest include Behavioural Economics, and Development.
Prior to joining Tor Vergata, I was a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Bristol. I received my PhD from The University of Warwick in 2016.
Impulse Purchases, Gun Ownership and Homicides: Evidence from a Firearm Demand Shock
– with David Schindler – forthcoming at The Review of Economics and Statistics
[Abstract] [Article] – Covered on [Salon] [Handelsblatt] [Wirtschaftswoche] [Ökonomenstimme]
Do firearm purchase delay laws reduce aggregate homicide levels? Using quasi-experimental evidence from a 6-month countrywide gun demand shock starting in late 2012, we show that U.S. states with legislation preventing immediate handgun purchases experienced smaller increases in handgun sales. Our findings are hard to reconcile with entirely rational consumers, but suggest that gun buyers behave time-inconsistently. In a second step, we demonstrate that states with purchase delays also witnessed 2% lower homicide rates during the same period compared to states allowing instant handgun access. We report suggestive evidence that lower handgun sales primarily reduced impulsive assaults and domestic violence.
Loose Cannons: War Veterans and the Erosion of Democracy in Weimar Germany
– solo – The Journal of Economic History (2023), 83(1), 167-202
This article shows that democracy in Weimar Germany was eroded by the political legacy of WWI. Using novel data on WWI veterans and an election panel from 1893–1933, I find that former soldiers are associated with a sizeable, persistent, and momentous shift in political preferences from left to right. I provide suggestive evidence that war participation made veterans highly receptive to nationalism and Anti-Communism. This alienated them from leftwing parties and drove the majority toward the political right. Contrary to historical accounts, veterans’ shifts in political preferences cannot be explained by exposure to violence or other polarizing post-war events.
The Political Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Weimar Germany
– with Stefan Bauernschuster, Matthias Blum and Erik Hornung
[Abstract] [Draft] – Covered on [VoxEU]
How do health crises affect political competition? We combine a panel of election results from 1893–1933 with spatial heterogeneity in excess mortality due to the 1918 Influenza to assess the pandemic’s effect on voting behavior across German constituencies. Applying a dynamic differences-in-differences approach, we find that areas with higher influenza mortality saw a lasting shift towards left-wing parties. We argue that pandemic intensity increased the salience of public health policy, prompting voters to reward parties signaling competence in health issues. Alternative explanations such as pandemic-induced economic hardship, punishment of incumbents for inadequate policy responses, or polarization of the electorate towards more extremist parties are not supported by our findings.
Patronage and Election Fraud: Insights from Russia’s Governors 2000–2012
[Supersedes “Competence vs. Loyalty: Political Survival and Electoral Fraud in Russia’s Regions 2000-2012”]
Theory and empirics suggest that patronage fosters election fraud. But why does fraud vary within autocracies where patronage’s incentives to manipulate should be uniformly high? In this paper, I explore whether information asymmetries can explain this phenomenon. I study the introduction of a patronage system which allowed Russia’s president to discretionarily appoint all 89 regional governors. After December 2004, all national elections were organized by governors facing removal but, crucially, only some were actually patronage-appointed with lower need to signal their qualities. I estimate the effect of the reform’s introduction and its staggered implementation on a new and verified regional fraud indicator for 7 national elections from 2000–2012. Results show that patronage increased overall levels of rigging but less so with patronage-appointed, connected governors. Appointments had no effect on actual election results and regional economic performance, which makes reduced uncertainty about governors’ loyalty the most plausible explanation.
The Political Fallout of Chernobyl: Evidence from West-German Elections
I study the effect of a formative experience on political beliefs in a distant country. This paper looks at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and voters’ response in West Germany. The analysis uses a diff-in-diff estimation which exploits variation in proximity to the nearest nuclear power plant (NPP) across 301 counties. Proximity is used as proxy for the shock from perceived risk of a nuclear accident. Using data over almost 40 years and 11 elections, my results indicate that living closer to an NPP benefited the explicitly anti- and pro-nuclear parties, the Greens and the Conservatives. The findings are persistent and robust to the inclusion of several socio-economic controls as well as checks for the validity of the identifying assumptions. The gains of the Greens are similar across social groups and in line with home-voter effects. The effect of proximity on the conservatives increases with education and the number of adolescents in their impressionable years. I argue that this can be explained by political belief formation and differences in assessing the economic benefits from nuclear power over the actual risk of an accident. Using variation in the scheduling of subsequent state elections, I can also show that the pro-nuclear response was stronger in counties which did not vote in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl and thus had more time for a rational electoral choice.
Work in progress
The Burden of Memory: Persistence of Ethnic Conflict in Yugoslavia
– with Leonard Kukić and Filip Novokmet
Wages, Mortality and Voting in Imperial Germany
– with Yanos Zylberberg
Political Alignment and Development Funds: Evidence from post-WWII Southern Italy
– with Letizia Borgomeo and Mauro Rota
The Long-Run Consequences of Transition Unemployment in Eastern Europe
– with Andreas Menzel and Ekaterina Travova