Publications

The Long-Term Effect of Demographic Shocks on the Evolution of Gender Roles: Evidence from the Transatlantic Slave Trade"  Forthcoming in the Journal of the European Economic Association                                                                                        Abstract: Can demographic shocks affect the long-run evolution of female labor force participation and gender norms? This paper traces current variation in women’s participation in the labor force within Sub-Saharan Africa to the emergence of a female-biased sex ratio during the centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. This historical shock affected the division of labor along gender lines in the remaining African population, as women substituted for the missing men by taking up areas of work that were traditionally male tasks. By exploiting variation in the degree to which different ethnic groups were affected by the transatlantic slave trade, I show that women whose ancestors were more exposed to this shock are today more likely to be in the labor force, have lower levels of fertility, and are more likely to participate in household decisions. The marriage market and the cultural transmission of internal norms across generations represent important mechanisms explaining this long-run persistence.

Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution" (with Alberto Alesina and Stefanie Stantcheva)                    American Economic Review, 2018, 108(2), 521-554.                                                                                                                             Online Appendix; Covered by The Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, Vox                                                    Abstract: Using new cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in France, Italy, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S.. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about social mobility. Our randomized treatment shows pessimistic information about mobility and increases support for redistribution, mostly for “equality of opportunity” policies. We find a strong political polarization. Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they support more redistribution after seeing pessimistic information. None of these apply to right-wing respondents, possibly because they see the government as a “problem” and not as the “solution.”

Working Papers

"Patronage in the Allocation of Public Sector Jobs" (with Emanuele Colonnelli and Mounu Prem)                                              Covered by World Bank Development Impact Blog                                                                                                                    Abstract: This paper studies patronage – the use of public sector jobs to reward political supporters of the party in power – in Brazilian local governments. We use longitudinal data on the universe of Brazilian public sector employees over the 1997-2014 period, matched with information on more than 2,000,000 political supporters of Brazilian local parties. Using a regression discontinuity design that generates exogenous variation in individuals’ connection to the party in power, we first document the presence of significant political favoritism in the allocation of jobs throughout the entire Brazilian public sector hierarchy. Being a political supporter of the party in power increases the probability of having a public sector job by 10.5 percentage points (a 47% increase). Leveraging detailed information on supporters’ and jobs’ characteristics, we then show that patronage is the leading explanation behind this favoritism, with jobs in the public sector being used as reward for political supporters. We find that patronage has significant real consequences for selection to public employment, as the amount of support provided to the party in power substitutes qualifications as determinant of hiring decisions. Finally, consistent with this negative impact on the quality of the selected public workers, we present evidence suggesting that patronage practices are associated with a worse provision of public services.

"Peer Effects in Campaign Contributions: Evidence from the Members of the Corporate Boards of the S&P 1500 List" (with Horacio Larreguy)                                                                                                                                                                            Abstract:  We investigate the presence of peer effects in U.S. campaign finance by studying whether the contribution behavior of corporate directors of firms in the S&P 1500 list is affected by the contributions of members of their corporate network. To identify the presence of these peer effects, we use an instrumental variable approach that exploits the passage of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act, combined with the presence of partially overlapping groups of peers in the corporate network. Consistent with the presence of significant peer effects in campaign contribution behavior, we show that an increase in peers’ contributions to Congressional candidates increases a director’s amount of contributions. The presence of peer effects is particularly strong along party lines: a $1 increase in peers’ contributions to Republican (Democratic) candidates increases a director’s contributions to Republicans (Democrats) by $0.163 ($0.239).

"Economic Recessions and Congressional Preferences for Redistribution" (with Maria Carreri)                                           Abstract: We analyze the roots of politicians’ preferences for redistribution by exploring whether early life experiences have persistent, long-run effects on U.S. Members of Congress’ voting records. We study whether having experienced an economic recession during early adulthood affected their positions on redistribution-specific bills during the period 1957–2012. We find that politicians who experienced a reces- sion hold more conservative positions on redistribution, even compared to members of the same party in the same legislature. We rule out alternative accounts and show that experiencing a recession directly affects future politicians’ personal preferences. In light of recent empirical evidence showing that voters become more supportive of redistribution following a recession, our findings suggest that macroeconomic shocks have a polarizing effect: recessions can create an ideological wedge between voters and their future representatives. We present two pieces of evidence suggesting that this wedge can be explained by politicians’ more privileged background.

Work in Progress

"State-Owned Firms and Political Employment: Evidence from Brazil" (with Emanuele Colonnelli)

"What Drives Corporate Elites’ Contribution Behavior? Evidence from Directors of U.S. Public Firms”