Research

Borrowing from political sociology and political economy, my work focuses on how social cleavages shape democratic representation and the allocation of resources, possibly resulting in unequal outcomes. Methodologically, I mainly use causal inference in observational data and game theorical analysis.

Political representation

Abstract. Major crises can act as critical junctures or reinforce the political status quo, depending on how citizens view the performance of central institutions. We use an interrupted time series to study the political effect of the enforcement of a strict confinement policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we take advantage of a unique representative web-based survey that was fielded in March and April 2020 in Western Europe to compare the political support of those who took the survey right before and right after the start of the lockdown in their country. We find that lockdowns have increased vote intentions for the party of the Prime Minister/President, trust in government, and satisfaction with democracy. Furthermore, we find that, while rallying individuals around current leaders and institutions, they have had no effect on traditional left-right attitudes.

"Electoral Competition through Issue Selection" with E. Aragonès and M. Castanheira

American Journal of Political Science (2016)

Abstract. Politics must tackle multiple issues at once. In a first-best world, political competition constrains parties to prioritize issues according to the voters’ true concerns. In the real world, the opposite also happens: parties manipulate voter priorities by emphasizing issues selectively during the political campaign. This phenomenon, known as priming, should allow parties to pay less attention to the issues that they intend to mute. We develop a model of endogenous issue ownership in which two vote-seeking parties (i) invest to attract voters with “better” policy proposals and (ii) choose a communication campaign to focus voter attention on specific issues. We identify novel feedbacks between communication and investment. In particular, we find that stronger priming effects can backfire by constraining parties to invest more resources in all issues, including the ones they would otherwise intend to mute. We also identify under which conditions parties prefer to focus on their “historical issues” or to engage in issue stealing. Typically, the latter happens when priming effects are strong, and historical reputations differentiates parties less.

Discrimination and Inequality

Abstract. Highly educated individuals tend to be less supportive of redistribution, by most accounts because they have more to lose and less to gain from it. In this paper we develop the argument that university education reduces support for redistribution in large part independently of the improved material circumstances with which it is associated. While university encourages a range of progressive ideas related to cultural inclusivity, it simultaneously encourages conservative redistribution preferences that are reinforced - but only partly explained by the economic security it tends to provide. In short, European universities foster norms of cultural inclusion, while simultaneously eroding norms of economic solidarity.

Abstract. Exploiting the coincidence of the U.S. Presidential Elections with the fieldwork period of the European Social Survey, we show that Donald Trump’s win significantly increased self-reported racial bias in policy attitudes outside the U.S. We show that the opposite occurred following Barack Obama’s first election in 2008, while no significant effect occurred when he and George W. Bush were reelected in 2012 and 2004, respectively. We show that the increase in self-reported racial bias is not driven by welfare-related immigration concerns, campaign effects, or bandwagon effects, suggesting a decrease in the social desirability of racial equality.

Abstract. There is a long tradition of imputation studies looking at how abstainers would vote if they had to. This is crucial for democracies because when abstainers and voters have different preferences, the electoral outcome ceases to reflect the will of the people. In this paper, we apply a non-parametric method to revisit old evidence. We impute the vote of abstainers in 15 European countries using Coarsened Exact Matching (CEM). While traditional imputation methods rely on the choice of voters that are on average like abstainers, and simulate full turnout, CEM only imputes the vote of the abstainers that are similar to voters, and allows to simulate an electoral outcome under varying levels of turnout, including levels that credibly simulate compulsory voting. We find that higher turnout would benefit social democratic parties while imposing substantial losses to extreme left and green parties.