Research

Working Papers:

Sticking to one's guns: Mass Shootings and the Political Economy of Gun Control in the U.S. [Journal of the European Economic Association, Volume 19, Issue 5, October 2021, Pages 2765–2802 ]

How do events that highlight a policy issue impact political preferences? In this paper, I analyze the impact of mass shootings on voter behavior. I show that, conditional on population, mass shootings are largely random events. Using a Difference-in-Differences strategy, I find that mass shootings result in a 1.7 percentage point loss in Republican vote share in counties where they occur. Identification that relies on comparing successful and failed mass shootings yields similar results. Mass shootings lead to an increase in the salience of gun policy and increase the divide on gun policy among both voters and politicians. Democrats (Republicans) tend to demand even stricter (looser) gun control after mass shootings. These results suggest that increasing the salience of an issue may polarize the electorate.

The Charitable Terrorist: State Capacity and the Support for the Pakistani Taliban (with Federico Masera) [Forthcoming Journal of Conflict Resolution]

Violent organizations are often providers of many social services in competition with the state. We provide evidence that these organizations use the provision of social services to gain support. This strategy is only effective when it fills the void left by a weak state. We show this by studying the provision of natural disaster relief by the Pakistani state and the Taliban. We first analyze the floods of 2010 that received an inadequate response from the government and show that support for the Taliban increased in the areas affected by the flood. These effects were concentrated in places where the Taliban likely provided help and where the state under-delivered. We then study the 2005 earthquake that instead received a swift government response and show that the Taliban lost support in the affected areas. Results cannot be explained by alternate mechanisms as anger against incumbents, political competition, electoral participation, and religiosity.

On the Economic Consequences of Mass Shootings (with Abel Brodeur) [R&R The Review of Economics and Statistics]

Mass shootings have increased rapidly in the last two decades in the U.S. In this paper, we investigate the economic consequences of mass shootings. We find that shootings have negative effects on targeted counties' employment, earnings, and housing prices. Examining the mechanisms, we find that residents of targeted areas: (i) are more likely to report being unable to do their usual activities such as working, suggesting shootings lead to a decrease in productivity; (ii) have pessimistic views of financial and local business conditions. Further, we find that greater national media coverage of shootings exacerbates their local economic consequences.

Inflammatory Political Campaigns and Racial Bias in Policing (with Pauline Grosjean & Federico Masera) [Accepted The Quarterly Journal of Economics]

Can political rallies affect the behavior of law enforcement officers towards racial minorities? Using data from 35 million traffic stops, we show that the probability that a stopped driver is Black increases by 5.74% after a Trump rally during his 2015-2016 campaign. The effect is immediate, specific to Black drivers, lasts for up to 60 days after the rally, and is not justified by changes in driver behavior. The effects are significantly larger among law enforcement officers whose estimated racial bias is higher at baseline, in areas that score higher on present-day measures of racial resentment, those that experienced more racial violence during the Jim Crow era, and in former slave-holding counties. Mentions of racial issues in Trump speeches, whether explicit or implicit, exacerbate the effect of a Trump rally among officers with higher estimated racial bias.

Making Rallies Great Again: The Effects of Presidential Campaign Rallies on Voter Behavior, 2008-2016 (with James M. Snyder Jr.)

Populism has surged around the world in recent decades. One campaign activity that may be especially important for populist leaders is holding large rallies to gain unmediated support from "the people." In this paper, we explore whether populist leaders are particularly effective in gaining support via their rallies. We do this by studying the effect of campaign rallies held by Donald Trump and other U.S. Presidential candidates since 2008. To measure the short-run causal impact of rallies, we exploit the fact that some respondents in the CCES were surveyed a few days before a rally, while others were surveyed a few days afterwards. We find that Trump's rallies produced a short-lived increase in his support over Clinton (especially among leaning Republicans), intention to vote (especially among strong Republicans), and individual campaign contributions for him. We do not find consistent, robust effects for other candidates. In terms of channels, we find that local media coverage of all candidates increased around their rallies, suggesting that the quantity of media coverage alone does not explain the findings.

Gentrifying Cities, Amenities and Income Segregation: Evidence from San Francisco (with Federico Curci)

After decades of sub-urbanization in the U.S., there is a recent movement of the most educated people back to city centers. In this paper, we provide evidence of the effects of gentrification on local amenities and sorting. We exploit the introduction of buses made by high-tech companies (e.g. Google buses) to move its employers from San Francisco to Silicon Valley to exogenously predict which blocks gentrify. We show that the influx of high-skill workers to specific neighborhoods further increases housing demand. The treated blocks experience improvement in local amenities. New residents are willing to pay higher housing costs, housing rents increase by 9%, and to have larger commutes to work to locate in those neighbourhoods. We show that the number of business and restaurants rise, local restaurant prices increase by 10%, and crimes decrease. Finally, we show that all previous residents do not benefit from increased amenities. Higher prices create a displacement of the poorest population and preserve income segregation at the city level.

On the socio-economic characteristics of the perpetrators of mass shootings (with Abel Brodeur)

We document the socioeconomic determinants of mass shootings in the U.S. from 2000 to 2015. Our results suggest that approximately 40% of shooters were in financial distress at the moment of the shooting, suggesting that economic distress may trigger a rise in shootings.

Terrorism Risk and Political Participation: Evidence from September 11

Countries desire higher level of political participation among its citizens. Can threat of terrorism affect the political preferences of the citizens? In this paper, I highlight the role of threat of terrorism as a channel which contributes towards higher political participation. I use the September 11 attacks and the stock of potential terrorism buildings and population at the time of attacks as source of exogenous variation in the threat of terrorism across different areas within the United States. I construct a terrorism risk index and show that areas which were objectively more risky increased voter turnout after the attacks: an one standard deviation increase in the terrorism risk lead to 1.4 p.p. increase in the turnout in the 2004 Presidential elections. The effect of the attacks persists in the subsequent elections. Overall, the results indicate how threat of terrorism can bring citizens together and increase the political participation.

Work in Progress:

Special Interest Groups and Endorsements: Evidence from U.S. (with Brian Knight & Ruben Durante)

Military and Terrorism: Evidence from Afghanistan (with Federico Masera)