Publications

Working Paper
Alberto Alesina, Stefanie Stantcheva, Edoardo Teso. Working Paper. “Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution”.Abstract

Using newly collected cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in five countries: France, Italy, Sweden, U.K., and U.S. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about intergenerational mobility, and too optimistic relative to actual mobility. Our randomized treatment that shows respondents pessimistic information about mobility increases support for redistribution, mostly for equality of opportunity policies. A strong political polarization exists: Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about intergenerational mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they respond to pessimistic information  by   increasing  support  for  redistribution.  None  of  these  apply  to  right-wing respondents, possibly because of their extremely negative views of government.

 

 

 

 

Upload paper

NBER Working Paper No. 23027

Alesina, Alberto, Caterina Gennaioli, and Stefania Lovo. Working Paper. “Public Goods and Ethnic Diversity: Evidence from Deforestation in Indonesia”.Abstract

 

This paper shows that the level of deforestation in Indonesia is positively related
to the degree of ethnic fractionalization at the district level. To identify a casual rela- tion we exploit the exogenous timing of variations in the level of ethnic heterogeneity due to the creation of new jurisdictions. We provide evidence consistent with a lower control of politicians, through electoral punishment, in more ethnically fragmented districts. Our results bring a new perspective on the political economy of defor- estation. They are consistent with the literature on (under) provision of public goods and social capital in ethnically diverse societies and suggest that when the underlying communities are ethnically fractionalized decentralisation can reduce deforestation by delegating powers to more homogeneous communities.
 

 

 

Upload paper

NBER WP 20504

In Preparation
Alesina, Alberto, and Andrea Passalacqua. In Preparation. “The Political Economy of Government Debt”. Upload paper

Handbook of Macroeconomics

Forthcoming
Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. Forthcoming. “Culture and Institutions.” Journal of Economic Literature. Download paper
Alesina, Alberto, Carlo Favero, and Francesco Giavazzi. Forthcoming. “The Output Effect of Fiscal Consolidations.” Journal of International Economics.Abstract

We show that the correct experiment to evaluate the effects of a
…scale adjustment is the simulation of a multi year …fiscal plan rather
than of individual …scale shocks. Simulation of …scale plans adopted
by 16 OECD countries over a 30-year period supports the hypothesis that the effects of consolidations depend on their design. Fiscal
adjustments based upon spending cuts are much less costly, in terms
of output losses, than tax-based ones and have especially low out-
put costs when they consist of permanent rather than stop and go
changes in taxes and spending. The difference between tax-based and
spending-based adjustments appears not to be explained by accompanying policies, including monetary policy. It is mainly due to the
different response of business confidence and private investment.

Download paper
2017
Alesina, Alberto, and Francesco Passarelli. 2017. “Loss Aversion, Politics and Redistribution”.Abstract

We study loss aversion in majority voting.  First, we show a status quo
bias. Second, loss aversion implies a moderating effect. Third, in a dynamic setting, the effect of loss aversion diminishes with the length of the planning horizon of voters; however, in the presence of a projection bias, majorities are partially unable to understand how fast they will adapt. Fourth, in a stochastic environment, loss aversion yields a significant distaste for risk, but also a smaller attachment to the status quo. The application of these results to a model of redistribution leads to empirically plausible implications.
 

Download paper Supplementary
2016
Alesina, Alberto, Salvatore Piccolo, and Paolo Pinotti. 2016. “Organized Crime, Violence and Politics”.Abstract

We show that in Sicily Mafia killings of politicians increase before elections and
have negative effects on the vote received by parties not captured by the Mafia. Then, using a very large data set of electoral speeches, we find strong evidence that anti-mafia activities by politicians elected in Sicily are, in fact, negatively correlated with the levels of pre-electoral violence. Using data on homicides in all regions of Italy starting from the end of the nineteenth century, we identify a political cycle of homicides only in regions with organized crime. We also show how this electoral cycle changes as a function of different electoral rules and the relative strength of captured and non-captured parties. All these empirical findings are rationalized by a simple signaling model in which criminal organizations exert pre-electoral violence to inform adverse politicians about their military strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upload paper
Alesina, Alberto, Benedetta Brioschi, and Eliana La Ferrara. 2016. “Violence Against Women: A Cross-cultural Analysis for Africa”.Abstract

Using a new dataset, we investigate the determinants of violence
against women in Africa. We focus on cultural factors arising from pre-colonial customs and find evidence consistent with two hypotheses. First, ancient socioeconomic conditions determine social norms about gender roles, family structures and intrafamily violence which persist even when the initial conditions change. Norms about marriage patterns, living arrangements and the productive
role of women are associated with contemporary violence. Second, women’s contemporary economic role affects violence in a complex way which is itself related to traditional norms in ancient times and current bargaining power
within the marriage.

alesinabrioschilaferrara_violence_against_women.pdf
Alesina, Alberto, Stelios Michalopoulos, and Elias Papaioannou. 2016. “Ethnic Inequality.” Journal of Political Economy 124 (2): 428-488. Upload paper Upload appendix
Alesina, Alberto, Johann Harnoss, and Hillel Rapoport. 2016. “Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity”.Abstract

We propose an index of population diversity based on people’s birthplaces and decompose it into a size (share of foreign-born) and a variety (diversity of immigrants) component. We show that birthplace diversity is largely uncorrelated with ethnic, linguistic or genetic diversity and that the diversity of immigration relates positively to measures of economic prosperity. This holds especially for skilled immigrants in richer countries at intermediate levels of cultural proximity. We partly address endogeneity by specifying a pseudo-gravity model predicting the size and diversity of immigration. The results are robust across specifications and suggestive of skill-complementarities between immigrants and native workers.

Upload paper
2015
Alesina, Alberto, Benedetta Brioschi, and Eliana La Ferrara. 2015. “Violence Against Women: A Cross-cultural Analysis for Africa”.Abstract

Using a new dataset constructed matching the Demographic Health Surveys with Murdock's Ethnographic Atlas, we investigate the determinants of violence against women in Africa. We focus on cultural determinants of violence arising from ancient living arrangements, types of economic activities and marriage patterns. Our outcomes include both violence actually experienced by women and attitudes towards domestic violence reported by men and women. We nd evidence consistent with two hypotheses. First, ancient socioeconomic conditions determine social norms about gender roles, family structures and intrafamily violence which persist over time even when the initial conditions change. We show that norms about marriage patterns, living arrangements and the productive role of women in ancient times are associated with contemporary violence. Second, women's economic role aects violence in a complex way. On the one hand, in societies where in pre-colonial times women had an active economic role and/or a brideprice was paid upon marriage, implying a high economic value of women, men are less prone to violence today. On the other hand,we find increases in domestic violence for couples where the woman is currently economically independent, i.e., where she may have more bargaining power and pose a threat to the husband.

Upload paper
Alesina, Alberto, Traviss Cassidy, and Ugo Troiano. 2015. “Old and Young Politicians.” NBER WP 20977. Upload paper

NBER WP 20977

Alesina, Alberto, Michele Battisti, and Joseph Zeira. 2015. “Technology and Labor Regulations: Theory and Evidence”. Upload paper

NBER WP 20841

Alesina, Alberto, Omar Barbiero, Carlo Favero, Francesco Giavazzi, and Matteo Paradisi. 2015. “Austerity in 2009-2013.” Economic Policy Journal. Download paper
Alesina, Alberto, and Matteo Paradisi. 2015. “Political Budget Cycles: Evidence from Italian Cities”.Abstract

The introduction of a new real estate taxes in Italy in 2011 generated a natural ex- periment, which is useful to test political budget cycles, i.e. the strategic choice of fiscal variables in relation to elections. We do find substantial evidence of political budget cy- cles, with municipalities choosing lower tax rates when close to elections. We observe this budget cycle only for smaller municipalities where the tax was more likely to be the single most important issue for
the local government. Cities close to elections with large deficits did not set lower rates before elections, probably because they felt the binding constraints
of budget rules.

Upload paper

NBER WP 20570

Alesina, Alberto, and Bryony Reich. 2015. “Nation Building”.Abstract

Nations stay together when citizens share enough values and preferences and can communicate with each other. Homogeneity amongst people can be built with education, teaching a common language to facilitate communication, but also by brute force such as prohibiting local cultures. Democracies and non-democracies have different incentives when it comes to choosing how much and by what means to homogenize the population. We study and we compare both regimes in a model where the size of countries and the degree of active homogenization in endogenous. We also offer some historical discussions of cases which illustrate our theoretical results.

nation_building_feb_2015.pdf

NBER WP 18839

Alesina, Alberto, Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, and Paola Giuliano. 2015. “Family Values and the Regulation of Labor.” Journal of the European Economic Association.Abstract

Flexible labor markets require geographically mobile workers to be efficient. Otherwise firms can take advantage of the immobility of workers and extract rents at the expense of workers. In cultures with strong family ties, moving away from home is costly. Thus, to limit the rents of firms and avoid moving, individuals with strong family ties rationally choose regulated labor markets, even though regulation generates lower employment and income. Empirically, we do find that individuals who inherit stronger family ties are less mobile, have lower wages, are less often employed and support more stringent labor market regulations. We find a positive association between labor market rigidities at the beginning of the twenty-first century and family values prevailing before World War II, and between family structures in the Middle Ages and current desire for labor market regulation. Both results suggest that labor market regulations have deep cultural roots.

Download paper
2014
Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. 2014. “Family Ties.” Handbook of Economic Growth, edited by Philippe Aghion and Steven N Durlauf, 2A: 177-215. The Netherlands: North Holland, 2A, 177-215.Abstract

We study the role of the most primitive institution in society: the family. Its organization and relationship between generations shape values formation, economic outcomes and influences national institutions. We use the World Values Survey to measure the strength of family ties and economic attitudes, controlling for country fixed effects. We study several economic attitudes, toward working women, society, generalized morality and civic engagement. Individuals with strong family ties have more traditional beliefs about the role of women in society, are more reluctant to accept changes in society and innovation and show a lower level of trust. We also uncover interesting correlations at the country level, where the strength of family ties is associated with lower GDP and lower quality of institutions. These results remain valid if one exploits the correlation between inherited family values and current institutions and level of development, indicating a strong persistence in family values. The quality of family relationships, on the positive side, increases happiness, life satisfaction, and self-reported health.

Download paper
Alesina, Alberto, and Francesco Passarelli. 2014. “Regulation versus Taxation.” Journal of Public Economics 110: 147-156.Abstract
We study which policy tool and at what level a majority chooses in order to reduce negative externalities, such as pollution. We consider three instruments: a rule that sets an upper limit to the activity which produces the negative externality, a quota that forces a proportional reduction of the activity, and a proportional tax on it. For all instruments the majority chooses levels which are too restrictive when the activity is performed mainly by a small fraction of the population, and when costs for reducing activities or paying taxes are quite convex. Also, a majority may choose an instrument that is different than what a social planner would choose; for instance, a rule when the social planner would choose a tax.
Download Paper
Alesina, Alberto, and Eliana La Ferrara. 2014. “A Test for Racial Bias in Capital Punishment.” American Economic Review 104 (11): 3397-3433.Abstract

We propose a test of bias based upon patterns of judicial errors. We model the trial court as minimizing a weighted sum of type I and II errors. We define racial bias as a situation where the weight depends on defendant/victim race. If the court is unbiased, the error rate should be independent of the combination defendant/victim race. We test this prediction using an original dataset on all capital appeals in 1973-1995. We find that in the first and last stages of appeal the probability of error is 3 and 9 percentage points higher for minority defendants who killed white (versus minority) victims.

Download paper

Pages