Gifts of the Immigrants, Woes of the Natives: Lessons from the Age of Mass Migration (2017). JOB MARKET PAPER
Abstract: In this paper, I show that political opposition to immigration can arise even when immigrants bring significant economic prosperity to receiving areas. I exploit exogenous variation in European immigration to US cities between 1910 and 1930 induced by World War I and the Immigration Acts of the 1920s, and instrument immigrants' location decision relying on pre-existing settlement patterns. Immigration increased natives' employment and occupational standing, and fostered industrial production and capital utilization. However, it lowered tax rates, public spending, and the pro-immigration party's (i.e., Democrats) vote share. The inflow of immigrants was also associated with the election of more conservative representatives, and with rising support for anti-immigration legislation. I provide evidence that political backlash was increasing in the cultural distance between immigrants and natives, suggesting that diversity might be economically beneficial but politically hard to manage.
Abstract: Is racial heterogeneity responsible for the distressed financial conditions of US central cities and for their limited ability to provide even basic public goods? If so, why? I study these questions exploiting the movement of more than 1.5 million African Americans from the South to the North of the United States during the first wave of the Great Migration (1915-1930). Black immigration and the induced white outmigration ("white flight") are both instrumented for using, respectively, pre-migration settlements and their interaction with MSA geographic characteristics that affect the cost of moving to the suburbs. The inflow of African Americans imposed a strong, negative fiscal externality on receiving places by lowering property values and, mechanically, reducing tax revenues. Unable or unwilling to raise tax rates, cities cut public spending, especially in education, to meet a tighter budget constraint. While the fall in tax revenues was partly offset by higher debt, this strategy may, in the long run, have proven unsustainable, contributing to the financially distressed conditions of several US central cities today.
Economic Integration and Democracy: An Empirical Investigation (2016), with Giacomo Magistretti. Submitted.
Abstract: We study whether economic integration fosters the process of democratization, and the channels through which this might happen. Our analysis is based on a large panel dataset of countries between 1950 and 2014. We instrument actual trade with predicted trade constructed by estimating a time-varying gravity equation similar to Feyrer (2009). We find that economic integration has a positive effect on democracy, which is driven by trade with democratic partners, and is stronger for countries with lower initial levels of economic and institutional development. These results are consistent with a learning/cultural exchange process whereby economic integration promotes the spread of democracy from more to less democratic countries. We corroborate this interpretation by providing evidence against alternative mechanisms, such as income effects, human capital accumulation, and trade-induced changes in inequality.
Immigration, Natives’ Marriage, and Family Structure During the Age of Mass Migration (2017), with Michela Carlana. DRAFT COMING SOON
Abstract: In this paper, we study the effects of immigration on natives’ marriage, fertility, and family formation across US cities between 1910 and 1930. Instrumenting immigrants’ location decision by interacting pre-existing ethnic settlements with aggregate migration flows, we find that immigration raised marriage rates, fertility, and the propensity to leave the parental house for young native men and women. We show that these effects were driven by the large and positive impact of immigration on native men’s employment and occupational standing, which increased the supply of “marriageable men”. We also explore alternative mechanisms – changes in sex ratios, natives’ cultural responses, and displacement effects of immigrants on female employment – and provide evidence that none of them can account for a quantitatively relevant fraction of our results.
Research in Progress:
From Immigrants to Americans: Race, Status, and Assimilation During the Great Migration (2017), with Vasiliky Fouka and Shom Mazumder
The Economic and Political Effects of Outmigration from the US South During the Great Migration (2017), with Leah Boustan
Measuring Attitudes Towards Immigration Using Newspapers' Data and Congressional Speeches (2017), with Leonardo D'Amico
Can Cuts in Government Spending be Expansionary?, with Nicola Fontana, 2013 (Revised, March 2015). Mimeo.