Publications

2012
Alesina, Alberto. 2012. The Kindest Cuts, City Journal. Download article
Autumn 2012
Alesina, Alberto, Guido Cozzi, and Noemi Mantovan. 2012. The Evolution of Ideology, Fairness, and Redistribution, The Economic Journal 122, no. 565: 1244–1261. Download articleAbstract
Ideas about what is ‘fair’ influence preferences for redistribution. We study the dynamic evolution of different economies in which redistributive policies, perception of fairness, inequality and growth are jointly determined. We show how including beliefs about fairness can keep two otherwise identical countries on different development paths for a very long time. We show how different initial conditions regarding how ‘fair’ is the same level of inequality can lead to two permanently different steady states. We also explore how bequest taxation can be an efficient way of redistributing wealth to correct ‘unfair’ past accumulation of inequality.
Alesina, Alberto. 2012. Fiscal Policy after the Great Recession, Atlantic Economic Journal 40, no. 4: 429-435.Abstract
The Great Recession has severely hit the economies of most of the countries. Given that, fiscal policies have gained back a central role in the debate as a tool to recover from this situation. This paper provides an overview about the main controversial issues related to the fiscal policy. In particular, we analyze the role and the different effects played by discretionary counter-cyclical policies – say, for instance, tax cuts or increased government spending. Disagreement on this topic follows from the fact that it is extremely difficult to isolate the exogenous effect of these policies on GDP. We review several ways in which economists have tried to deal with this problem of estimation. Finally, we discuss why spending-based adjustments are preferable and less likely to be costly than tax-based ones and why large fiscal consolidation accompanied by appropriate policies can be much less costly than what we think.
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2011
Alesina, Alberto, Alberto Carasquilla, and Roberto Steiner. 2011. Governance in Colombia's Central Bank, Central Banking.
Alesina, Alberto, Andrea Stella, B Friedman, and M Woodford. 2011. The Politics of Monetary Policy, in Handbook of Monetary Economics, Ch. 8 1000-1054. Amsterdam: North Holland.
Alesina, Alberto, Paola Giuliano, A Bisin, and J Benhabib. 2011.

Preferences for Redistribution

, in Handbook of Social Economics, 93-132. North Holland. Upload paper
Alesina, Alberto, William Easterly, and Janina Matuszeski. 2011. Artificial States, Journal of the European Economic Association 9: 246-77. Download articleAbstract
Arti…cial states are those in which political borders do not coincide with a division of nationalities desired by the people on the ground. We propose and compute for all countries in the world two new measures how arti…cial states are. One is based on measuring how borders split ethnic groups into two separate adjacent countries. The other one measures how straight land borders are, under the assumption the straight land borders are more likely to be arti…cial. We then show that these two measures seem to be highly correlated with several measures of political and economic success.
Alesina, Alberto, Paola Giuliano, and Nathan Nunn. 2011. Fertility and the Plough, American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 101: 499-503. Download paper
Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. 2011. Family Ties and Political Participation, Journal of the European Economic Association 9, no. 5: 817-839.Abstract
We establish an inverse relationship between family ties, generalized trust and political participation. The more individuals rely on the family as a provider of services, insurance, transfer of resources, the lower is civic engagement and political participation. The latter, together with trust, are part of what is known as social capital, therefore in this paper we contribute to the investigation of the origin and evolution of social capital over time. We establish these results using within country evidence and looking at the behavior of immigrants from various countries in 32 different destination places.
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Alesina, Alberto, and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya. 2011. Segregation and the Quality of Government in a Cross Section of Countries, American Economic Review: 1872-1911.Abstract
This paper has three goals. The first, and perhaps the most important, is to provide a new compilation of data on ethnic, linguistic and religious composition at the sub-national level for a large number of countries. This data set allows us to measure segregation of diff erent ethnic, religious and linguistic groups within the same country. The second goal is to correlate measures of segregation with measures of quality of the polity and policymaking. The third is to construct an instrument that helps to overcome the endogeneity problem which arises because groups move within country borders, partly in response to policies. We find that more ethnically and linguistically segregated countries, i.e., those where groups live more spatially separately, have a substantially lower quality of government. In contrast, we fi nd no relationship between religious segregation and the quality of government.
Article
Alesina, Alberto, Andrea Ichino, and Loukas Karabarbounis. 2011. Gender Based Taxation and the Allocation of Family Chores, American Economic Journals: Economic Policy: 1-40.Abstract
Gender-Based Taxation (GBT) satisfies Ramsey’s rule of optimality because it taxes at a lower rate the more elastic labor supply of women. This holds when different elasticities between men and women are taken as exogenous. We study GBT in a model in which labor supply elasticities emerge endogenously from the bargained allocation of goods and time in the family. We explore the cases of superior bargaining power for men, higher men wages and higher women productivity in home duties. In all cases, men commit to a career in the market and take less home duties than women. As a result, their market work becomes less substitutable to home duty and their labor supply responds less to changes in the market wage. When society can resolve its distributional concerns efficiently with gender-specific lump sum transfers, GBT with higher marginal tax rates on (single and married) men is optimal. In addition, GBT affects the intrafamily bargaining, leading to a more balanced allocation of labor market outcomes across spouses and a smaller gender gap in labor supply elasticities.
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2010
Alesina, Alberto. 2010. Fiscal adjustments: lessons from recent history, in Ecofin. Madrid. Paper
Prepared for the Ecofin meeting in Madrid April 15, 2010.
Alesina, Alberto, Silvia Ardagna, and Vincenzo Galasso. 2010. The Euro and Structural Reforms, in Europe and the Euro, ed. A Alesina and Giavazzi, F, 57-98. University of Chicago Press and NBER.
Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. 2010. The Power of the Family, Journal of Economic Growth 15: 93-125.Abstract
The structure of family relationships influences economic behavior and attitudes. We define our measure of family ties using individual responses from the World Value Survey regarding the role of the family and the love and respect that children need to have for their parents for over 70 countries. We show that strong family ties imply more reliance on the family as an economic unit which provides goods and services and less on the market and on the government for social insurance. With strong family ties home production is higher, labor force participation of women and youngsters, and geographical mobility, lower. Families are larger (higher fertility and higher family size) with strong family ties, which is consistent with the idea of the family as an important economic unit. We present evidence on cross country regressions. To assess causality we look at the behavior of second generation immigrants in the US and we employ a variable based on the grammatical rule of pronoun drop as an instrument for family ties. Our results overall indicate a significant influence of the strength of family ties on economic outcomes.
Article
Alesina, Alberto, and Silvia Ardagna. 2010. Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes vs. Spending, Tax Policy and the Economy 24, no. October: 35-68.Abstract
We examine the evidence on episodes of large stances in fiscal policy, both in cases of fiscal stimuli and in that of fiscal adjustments in OECD countries from 1970 to 2007. Fiscal stimuli based upon tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than those based upon spending increases. As for fiscal adjustments those based upon spending cuts and no tax increases are more likely to reduce deficits and debt over GDP ratios than those based upon tax increases. In addition, adjustments on the spending side rather than on the tax side are less likely to create recessions. We confirm these results with simple regression analysis.
Article
Europe and the Euro
Alesin, Alberto. 2010. Europe and the Euro. Ed. Alberto Alesina and Giavazzi, Francesco. University of Chicago Press and NBER. Publisher's Version
Editor and coauthor of Introduction
2009
Alesina, Alberto, and Joseph Zeira. 2009. Technology and Labor Regulations.
NBER Working Paper No. 12581
L'Italia Fatta in Casa
Alesina, Alberto, and Andrea Ichino. 2009. L'Italia Fatta in Casa. Mondadori. Website
In Italian
2008
Alesina, Alberto, and Richard Holden. 2008. Extremism and Ambiguities in Two-Candidate Elections.Abstract
We analyze a model in which voters are uncertain about the policy preferences of candidates. Two forces affect the probability of electoral success: proximity to the median voter and campaign contributions. First, we show how campaign contributions affect elections. Then we show how the candidates may wish to announce a range of policy preferences, rather than a single point. This strategic ambiguity balances voter beliefs about the appeal of candidates both to the median voter and to the campaign contributors. If primaries precede a general election, they add another incentive for ambiguity, because in the primaries, the candidates do not want to reveal too much information, to maintain some freedom of movement in the policy space for the general election. Ambiguity has an option value.
Paper
NBER Working Paper No. 14143
Alesina, Alberto. 2008. Comments on "The Distribution of Total Work in EU and USA‟ by Michael Burda, in Working Hours and Job Sharing in the EU and USA: Are Europeans Lazy? Or Americans Crazy?, ed. T Boeri, Burda, M, and Kramarz, F. Oxford University Press.