Davide Luca





Political economy


Unfair play: the politics of Turkey's social spending under AKP rule. With M. Cammett (Harvard University), E. Sergenti (World Bank), link.


Most studies in the literature on distributive politics assume that the logic driving government distribution is similar across different goods. This paper relaxes this assumption. It explores patterns of central government spending on distinct social and economic sectors in Turkey from 2003 through 2014, when the ruling Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), gained and consolidated its hold on power. Fixed-effects and instrumental variable results show how the central government has systematically exploited expenditures on different social and economic sectors for strategic objectives, e.g. by targeting highly excludable goods to retain support in core AKP strongholds and non-excludable, non-reversible goods to provinces where the electoral race is closer. At the same time, the “big losers” across all sectors are the strongholds of the main opposition, secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP).


Picking winners at the ballot box: votes, political polarisation, and local economic growth in post-2002 Turkey, link.


There is significant literature on the adverse effects of political and social polarization on public policies and development outcomes. Yet, the research specifically exploring whether socio-political cleavages may affect subnational economic growth has been significantly scarcer. The current project proposal aims at filling this gap. It asks: in polities characterized by deep political polarization and where businesses are more reliant on state intervention – such as most countries in the Middle East and North Africa region –, do votes for the incumbent government ‘buy’ faster local economic growth, at the expenses of opposition constituencies? We test such question on the 81 provinces of Turkey over 2004-2014. New instrumental variable estimates suggest that voting for the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) can lead to up to two percentage points of faster per-capita yearly GDP growth rate.



Does the territorial targeting of public goods change over time? Evidence from Turkey's public transport investment. With A. Rodríguez-Pose (London School of Economics).


Existing studies on the territorial allocation of public goods for electoral reasons primarily focus on how alternative electoral systems lead to different strategic allocative patterns. Yet, even with the same electoral rule, incumbents may decide to alter their targeting strategies according to changing political objectives. The current paper focuses on proportional representation (PR) systems, and asks whether the geographical patterns of strategic redistribution change when governments enjoy increasing electoral success. While in PR systems with strong parties governments have incentives to preferentially target core regions and punish foes’, we suggest that increases in incumbents’ popularity and hold on power may lead to a broadening in the territorial targeting of public goods. We employ a multi-method research strategy combining data on Turkey’s public transport investment for 2003-2013 with fieldwork involving in-depth interviews, and provide robust results in support of our hypothesis.


Paving the way: highway construction and support for democratic deconsolidation in contemporary Turkey. With A. Filiztekin (Özyeğin University).


Public finance


Stronger together? Assessing the causal impact of inter-municipal authorities on the efficiency of Italian local administrations. With F. Modrego (Gran Sasso Science Institute).


Promoting better governance arrangements and coordination among local governments is seen as one of the solutions to overcome the challenge of providing key services to citizens under scarce resources across Europe. Yet, the empirical literature measuring the impacts of inter-municipal cooperation on local governments’ efficiency is scarce and provides contrasting evidence. In this paper we focus on Italy’s inter-municipal authorities (unioni di comuni). We exploit a fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design to estimate their causal effect on the efficiency of member municipalities.




Testing the link between migrants' spatial concentration and poverty: new micro-geographical evidence from the Netherlands. With M.C. Magante and A. Faggian (Gran Sasso Science Institute).


Hosting to skim. Organized crime on the reception of asylum seekers and refugees in Italy. With P. Proietti (Gran Sasso Science Institute).