In progress


Patterns of territorial inequality

The new geography of remote jobs: Evidence from Europe With Z. Wei (University of Cambridge), C. Özgüzel (OECD).

“Inclusive” distribution as electoral strategy. The politics of Turkish central government spending under AK Party rule. With M. Cammett (Harvard University), E. Sergenti (World Bank).

Most studies of distributive politics assume that politicians attempt to win support by strategic spending. Even if this is the central tendency, are some expenditure lines disbursed with less apparent favoritism towards particular regions? We suggest that governments intentionally spare some sectors from selective geographical targeting to convey the appearance of programmatic spending, while safeguarding others to reward supporters or punish opponents. Parties may find it politically advantageous to reserve some sectors for more “inclusive” spending to showcase their governance credentials, especially in policy areas that have garnered high public dissatisfaction and where voters can directly verify if promises have been kept. We analyze central government spending on all budget categories in Turkey’s 81 provinces for 2003-2015, a period when the ruling AK Party gained and consolidated power. Using fixed-effects and instrumental-variable Tobit estimators, we demonstrate that health spending has apparently become more inclusive, while other expenditures reward core strongholds.


Effects of territorial inequality on individual attitudes and political discontent

The long shadow of local decline: Birthplace economic conditions, political attitudes, and individual long-term economic outcomes in the UK. With N. Lee (LSE) and A. McNeil (LSE). Link to WP.

Despite the prevalent focus upon how current contextual economic conditions influence life outcomes and political attitudes of individuals, there is less evidence on how local economic conditions at birth shape individual outcomes and political attitudes over the long-term. Does growing up in an economically declining place matter for life outcomes? This paper links data from English and Welsh respondents of a large-scale household survey, the British Household Panel Survey, with historic localised data on unemployment to consider the impact of unemployment at birth on present-day individual wages and political attitudes. Our results, which control for the spatial sorting of people across places, show that being born into a high-unemployment Local Authority has a significant, long-term impact on individuals’ economic outcomes, decreasing earnings in adulthood. Even accounting for individual economic outcomes, being born into a local authority of high unemployment makes individuals more left-wing, but also less culturally tolerant. These results underline the importance of place-based policy solutions able to address geographically-concentrated economic disadvantage.

Great or grim? The diverging effect of the Brexit vote on Britain’s economic houselhold expectations and spending intentions. With Z. Wei (University of Cambridge), P. Kuang (Birmingham University) and Y. Yao (Birmingham University).

Changes in perceptions and expectations of British households are a key to understand the short- and medium-term impact of the Brexit vote on the UK economy. Leveraging data from British Election Study and the Bank of England NMG surveys, the paper studies if, and how, the Brexit vote outcomes have influenced British households’ view on the economy and their spending intentions. We find the Brexit vote has led to a sharp and long-lasting divergence in the views on the economy between Leave and Remain voters, as Remain voters have dramatically become more pessimistic since the vote. Also, in the wake of the Brexit election results, Remainers have become less willing to spend on major purchases as well as daily necessities compared to their counterparts.

Drifting apart? Urban density and the evolution of political disenchantment across 30 European countries. With M. Kenny (University of Cambridge).

We use the European Social Survey dataset, covering more than 200.000 respondents over the period 2002 to 2018, to present new evidence on the link between place of residence and differences in socio-political attitudes between urban and rural residents across 30 European countries. We complement recent research, and show that the strong and significant differences between the populations in these different settings have grown after the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. We also provide new comparative cross-country evidence from across selected countries. While different countries show specific patterns, on average, we show, rural dwellers express stronger levels of dissatisfaction with democracy and with public health service provision, lower trust in the political system, and less optimist attitudes towards migration and the EU.

Territorial disparities and perceptions of climate change across the regions of Europe (with I. Tosato, University of Cambridge)

The literature on climate change perceptions has predominantly focused on the role of compositional factors in shaping an individual’s attitude and how the weight of these variables fluctuates across countries. Consequently, there is little research on the domestic geographic variation in perceptions and the role of contextual factors in driving this disparity. Using the European Social Survey 2016 and Eurostat, the current paper maps the regional pattern in climate perceptions across 20 European countries. It then explores the extent to which spatial differences in climate change perceptions are linked to regional economic contextual variables. Results shows the high degree of heterogeneity in national climate perceptions and, most importantly, identifies the strong influence of regional economic disparity. Regardless of household income, an individual living in a wealthier region is more inclined to hold a pro-environmental attitude.

Policy delivery

Governance of policy delivery at the local level

‘Gone with the wind’. Organised crime and the geography of wind and solar farms in Italy. With A. Romarri (University of Barcelona).

The transition to low-carbon energy sources is considered as one of the key policies to tackle climate change and, to this aim, many European governments have been supporting the transition to renewable energy through subsidies. Growing anecdotal evidence suggests that the generosity of incentives has attracted the interests of corrupt politicians and criminal organisations, as the wind energy sector offer attractive opportunities for mafia to benefit from generous national and EU grant and tax subsidies and to launder illegal money via legal business structures. Yet, no academic research has systematically explored the link between organised crime and the renewable energy sector at the local level. Our project aims to fill this gap. We aim to combine, in a mixed-method approach, the econometric analysis of innovative GIS data on the geo-location of wind farms across Italy and on the local presence of mafia groups with fieldwork and in-depth interviews.