My domains of interest and expertise are political economy, economic history and development economics.My research agenda deals with the analysis of the mutual relations of political institutions and markets, and specifically with questions related to the role of the former in the origin of growth in capitalist societies.
Currently, I am working on the following papers.
• “The long-term effect of colonial states: Evidence from Central India”, started in 2021.In Central India, the river Narmada separates two regions that have experimented a different type of government only during the colonial period, for reasons orthogonal to their initial economic development. I implement a spatial RDD on village population in the early Nineteenth Century, as well as on proxies of welfare in 2015. My findings show that a long-run effect exists where the ancient border used to be, but not in a neighbouring area where the same river divided two shores with the same type of colonial institution. I discuss the following transmission mechanism. The southern region, which was administered with more effective fiscal and juridical tools, benefitted from countercyclical economic policies and from synergies between the private and public sectors, culminating in the opening of the first trans-continental railway. Although the colonial administration directed public investment to meet British (not local) economic goals, this work provides an explanation as to how the growth in efficacy and organisation of an embryonal state can sustain that of the local markets it deems relevant.
• “Targeted spending: Discretionary hiring in the neighborhood of regional elections in Italy”, started in 2022.
Does leaving too much discretion to political decision-makers result in a strategic usage of public revenues? I exploit the the possibility that Italian regional councils can sometimes appoint employees bypassing the standard procedure, which requires public competition. Using the 2020 pandemic shock, which caused first the deferral and then the set up of a brand new date of seven regional elections, I estimate a DID model with time-varying ATTs and wild bootstrapping of the sample. My results are robust to alternative model specifications and show a sharp negative effect on the percentage of employees hired by the regions where they were born, if these regions had their elections postponed. It seems that an adaptation strategy to the new course of the political events was in place, because the correction shows up right after it becomes clear that the elections would have been delayed, and it disappears as soon as the new date is determined. As only residents can vote in regional elections, this fining suggests that incumbents can tailor discretionary public expenditures towards people that are ex-ante more likely to be pivotal.