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Work in progress

My areas of 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 state capacity: Evidence from Central India”, started in 2021.

I study whether enhancing state capacity has an effect on long-term economic outcomes. For that purpose, I analyze a region of Central India along the river Narmada, whose northern and southern shores were ruled by two different colonial regimes within the British Empire, for reasons arguably orthogonal to economic development. Thanks to the availability of extensive individual surveys on both sides, I implement a spatial RDD using proxies for current consumption and wealth as outcomes. My results show that enhancing state capacity has indeed longlasting effects, and I discuss the following transmission mechanism. The southern districts, endowed with modern fiscal capacity, benefitted from this instrument to build the first trans-continental railway, which then led to openness to trade with the rest of the world. Although the colonial administration directed public investment to meet British (not local) economic goals, my work provides an explanation as to how the growth in efficacy and structure of an embryonal state can sustain that of the markets it deems relevant.

• “Targeted spending: The effect of elections on the distribution of discretionary jobs within the Italian bureaucracy”, started in 2022. 

The research question of this paper is whether leaving too much discretion to political decisionmaking can result in a strategic usage of public revenues. To this end, I exploit the fact that, under certain conditions, Italian regional councils can appoint employees bypassing the standard procedure, which requires Last update: November, 2022 public competition. Using the 2020 pandemic shock, which caused the deferral of seven regional elections, I estimate a DID model with wild bootstrapping. My results show a sharp negative effect on the percentage of employees hired by the regions where they were born, if these regions have had their elections postponed, as opposed to the regions that were not supposed to hold elections in the same period. This result highlights that incumbents can tailor discretionary public expenditures towards voters that are ex-ante more likely to be pivotal, as only residents can vote in regional elections. Indeed, the effect shows up right after it became clear that elections were not as near as it had been originally planned, and only in the quarter following the deferral.