Co-auteur
  • PRAROLO Giovanni (3)
  • PUTTERMAN Louis (3)
  • GUTIERREZ Emilio (2)
  • PINOTTI Paolo (2)
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  • Working paper (10)
  • Article (4)
  • Partie ou chapitre de livre (1)
Extensive research has documented the importance of social trust for economic development, yet the origins of trust remain largely unexplored. This paper examines the historical relationship between risk, cooperation and the emergence of social trust. I hypothesize that norms of trust developed in preindustrial times as a result of experiences of collective action and mutual insurance triggered by the need for subsistence farmers to cope with climatic risk. These norms persisted over time, even after climate had become largely unimportant for economic activity. I test this hypothesis in the context of Europe combining high-resolution climate data for the period 1500-2000 with contemporary survey data at the sub-national level. I find that regions characterized by higher year-to-year variability in precipitation and temperature display higher levels of trust. Consistent with a theory of insurance through geographic differentiation, I also find that trust is higher in regions with more spatially heterogeneous precipitation. Furthermore, variation in social trust is driven by weather patterns during the growing season and by historical rather than recent variability. These results are robust to the inclusion of country fixed-effects, a variety of geographical controls, and regional measures of early political and economic development.

Governments often take unpopular measures. To minimize the political cost of such measures policy makers may strategically time them to coincide with other newsworthy events, which distract the media and the public. We test this hypothesis using data on the recurrent Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Combining daily data on attacks on both sides of the conflict with data on the content of evening news for top U.S. TV networks, we show that Israeli attacks are more likely to be carried out when the U.S. news are expected to be dominated by important (non-Israel-related) events on the following day. In contrast, we find no evidence of strategic timing for Palestinian attacks. The timing of Israeli attacks minimizes the next-day news coverage which, as confirmed by comprehensive video content analysis, is especially charged with negative emotional content. We also find that: i) strategic timing is applied to retaliation only in periods of less intense fighting, when the urgency of retaliation is lower; ii) strategic timing is present only for the Israeli attacks that bear risk of civilians being affected; and iii) Israeli attacks are timed to newsworthy events that are predictable.

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We investigate the causal impact of broadband Internet on political participation using data from Italy. We show that this impact varies across different forms of political engagement and over time. Initially, broadband had a negative effect on turnout in national elections, driven by increased abstention of ideologically extreme voters. Meanwhile, however, broadband fostered other forms of online and offline participation. Over time, the negative effect was reverted due to the emergence of new political entrepreneurs who used the Internet to convert the initial “exit” back into “voice”. Overall, these nuanced effects underscore the general equilibrium dynamic induced by the Internet.

in The Economic Journal Publié en 2015-08
BUONANNO Paolo
PRAROLO Giovanni
VANIN Paolo
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With weak law-enforcement institutions, a positive shock to the value of natural resources may increase demand for private protection and opportunities for rent appropriation through extortion, favouring the emergence of mafia-type organisations. We test this hypothesis by investigating the emergence of the mafia in twentieth century Sicily, where a severe lack of state property-rights enforcement coincided with a steep rise in international demand for sulphur, Sicily's most valuable export commodity. Using historical data on the early incidence of mafia activity and on the distribution of sulphur reserves, we document that the mafia was more present in municipalities with greater sulphur availability.

Publié en 2011-11
DURANTE Ruben
LABARTINO Giovanna
PEROTTI Roberto
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Decentralization can lead to "good" or "bad" outcomes depending on the socio-cultural norms of the targeted communities. We investigate this issue by looking at the evolution of familism and nepotism in the Italian academia before and after the 1998 reform, which decentralized the recruitment of professors from the national to the university level. To capture familism we use a novel dataset on Italian university professors between 1988 and 2008 focusing on the informative content of last names. We construct two indices of “homonymy” which capture the concentration of last names in a given academic department relative to that in the underlying general population. Our results suggest that increased autonomy by local university officials resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of familism in areas characterized by low civic capital but not in areas with higher civic capital.

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This paper investigates the relative importance of fairness preferences, risk aversion, and selfinterest in determining support for redistribution. We present evidence from a series of laboratory experiments in which a large number of subjects choose the level of redistributive taxation to be applied to an initial distribution of endowments among participants. Our design permits us to investigate how support for redistribution varies based on: a) whether or not the decision-maker is part of the group affected by the tax; b) whether or not she has perfect information on her relative position in the distribution; c) whether or not the initial distribution is determined according to task performance; d) on the direct cost of redistribution to the decision-maker; e) on the deadweight loss associated with taxation. We find that: a) most subjects favor a more equal distribution among others; b) support for redistribution is sensitive to the cost of taxation and to the deadweight loss associated with it; c) risk aversion is associated with higher demand for redistribution when income is uncertain; d) subjects support less redistribution when the initial distribution is determined according to task performance. The last effect is much larger for males than for females and accounts for most of the gender-based difference in redistributive choices.

in Improving Public Opinion Surveys Publié en 2012
DURANTE Ruben
PUTTERMAN Louis
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We investigate the relationship between inter-jurisdictional cooperation and law enforcement in Mexico. Exploiting a Regression Discontinuity Design in close municipal elections, we study how improved opportunities for cooperation in crime prevention among neighboring municipalities - proxied by their degree of political alignment - may result in lower rates of violent crime. We find that municipalities in which the party in power in the majority of neighboring jurisdictions barely won experience significantly lower homicide rates during the mayor’s mandate than those in which it barely lost. This effect is sizeable and independent of which party is in power in the neighboring municipalities.

Mexico’s campaign law assigns TV and radio ads to parties according to their vote share in the previous election, and mandates the time of the day at which ads are aired to be determined randomly. We exploit this arguably exogenous variation in viewers’ exposure to political ads by different parties and longitudinal electoral survey data to estimate the effect of ads on voting intentions during Mexico’s 2012 presidential campaign. We find that political ads on both radio and TV have a positive, significant and sizeable effect on voting intentions. This effect is short-lived (about two weeks), and is stronger in the early weeks of the campaign. Ads tend to have no significant impact on voters’ knowledge of candidates’ political message, and to be more effective at convincing individuals that are more educated, and those who voted for the party in the past. Taken together these findings suggests that ads do not influence voters by conveying new information but that other mechanisms of persuasion, cantered around ads’ non-informative content, may be at work.

Publié en 2015-04
PINOTTI Paolo
TESEI Andrea
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We investigate the political impact of entertainment television in Italy over the past thirty years by exploiting the staggered introduction of Silvio Berlusconi's commercial TV network, Mediaset, in the early 1980s. We find that individuals in municipalities that had access to Mediaset prior to 1985 - when the network only featured light entertainment programs - were significantly more likely to vote for Berlusconi's party in 1994, when he first ran for office. This effect persists for almost two decades and five elections, and is especially pronounced for heavy TV viewers, namely the very young and the old. We relate the extreme persistence of the effect to the relative incidence of these age groups in the voting population, and explore different mechanisms through which early exposure to entertainment content may have influenced their political attitudes.

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