Public Governance working group

The Public Governance working group is online seminar series focused on state of art research in political economy that uses non-traditional data and data-intensive methods.

The working group give a platform for the research on the role of governance in designing and developing better policies. Key features are the political environment, the role of the media, the engagement of stakeholders such as civil society and firms, the market structure and level of competition, and the independence of public regulators, among others. Particular emphasis is placed on research with NLP methods due to the proven usefulness of transforming text into data for further econometric analysis.

Periodicity: Every Monday from 17h30 to 19h.

To attend, please contact Vladimir Avetian:

Past sessions

2023-06-19 at 17:30h

Milena Djourelova (University of Chicago)

Experience, Narratives and Climate Change Beliefs

Abstract: We study the media discourse and public opinion on climate change in the aftermath of extreme weather events. In both cable news and local media, and for both national-interest and local events, we find that left-leaning media consistently increase their coverage of climate change in the aftermath of natural disasters, while conservative media do not, despite equal disaster-related coverage. We then link the experience of disasters to concerns about climate change and the environment expressed in large-scale electoral surveys. We find a polarizing effect: disaster experience increases environmental concerns among liberal respondents, but has the opposite effect on conservative respondents. Both effects are driven by areas where the ideology of the respondent is in the minority.

2023-06-05 at 17:30h

Carlo Schwarz (Bocconi University)

The Effect of Content Moderation on Online and Offline Hate: Evidence from Germany's NetzDG

Abstract: Social media companies are under scrutiny for the prevalence of hateful content on their platforms, but there is scarce empirical evidence of the consequences of regulating such content. We study this question in the context of the ``Network Enforcement Act'' (NetzDG) in Germany, which mandates major social media companies to remove hateful posts within 24 hours. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that the law was associated with a statistically significant reduction in toxic posts by far-right social media users. Further, we show that the NetzDG reduced anti-refugee hate crimes in towns with more far-right Facebook users. Together, these findings suggest that online content moderation can curb online hate speech and offline violence.

2023-05-22 at 17:30h

Julian Dyer (University of Exeter Business School)

Words as Data: Evidence on Cultural Convergence and Change

Abstract: In this presentation we discuss our work based on a global, sub-national data set on cross-societal transmission. We use data on how words sound, how they are spelled, and what they mean, to estimate the etymological roots of each word and identify loanwords, using machine learning techniques. Societies with more loanword exchange share more societal traits in common, reinforcing the idea that cross-societal linguistic transmission proxies more generally for the diffusion of traits between groups. We use this to show that improved gains from trade causes cultural convergence, but that economic leverage determines the direction of convergence within a pair of language groups. Finally, we introduce a purely language data-driven approach to exploit the relevant information encoded in language to estimate the geographic origins of a historical phenomenon. We apply the methodology by tracing the history of religious words back to their originating languages to estimate the geographic origin of religious spread for each of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity within 500km of historical estimates.

2023-04-17 at 17:30h

Apurav Bhatiya (University of Birmingham)

Do Enfranchised Immigrants Affect Politicians' Behaviour?

Abstract: Immigrants are a large and growing unenfranchised group across many developed countries. Does immigrants' enfranchisement affect how politicians respond to immigration? I study the unique UK context, where immigrants from Ireland and the Commonwealth have voting rights in all elections immediately upon arrival, but these rights are not accorded to other immigrants. I analyse how politicians discuss immigration using text analysis of the universe of speeches in the UK parliament and how MPs vote on immigration bills between 1972 and 2011. I use a shift-share instrument exploiting pre-existing settlement patterns to address immigrants' endogenous location choice. I find that politicians exposed to higher enfranchised immigration spend more time in the parliament discussing issues that affect immigrants positively, yet they vote to increase immigration restrictions. Enfranchisement leads to more political engagement of immigrants, and politicians respond to this engagement. The political cost of favouring enfranchised immigrants is compensated by restricting future immigration.

2023-04-03 at 17:30h

Clément Gorin (University of Toronto)

The Emergence, Growth, and Stagnation of Cities: France 1760-2020

Abstract: This paper analyses the evolution of French urban areas from a historical perspective. Using building footprints extracted from collections of digitised historical maps covering mainland France in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, we define consistently urban areas and analyse their trajectories along the urban hierarchy. Our findings highlight increasing urbanisation with fewer and larger urban areas, consistent with agglomerations economies. Disaggregate analysis reveals significant heterogeneity, with the emergence, persistence, disappearance of urban areas.

2023-03-20 at 17:30h

Léo Picard (University of Basel)

Political Metaphors in U.S. Governor Speeches (with Dominik Stammbach)

Abstract: How do politicians use metaphors in their speeches? To provide evidence on this question, we apply a deep-learning-based metaphor detection model to a historical corpus of annual State of the State speeches given by U.S. governors, ranging from 1995 to 2022. Across 9 socio-economic topics, we present the following descriptive findings. First, metaphors are most commonly used on fiscal and economic issues. Second, Democratic governors employ more metaphors on environmental issues relative to Republican governors, who in turn express more metaphors on moral values. Third, we confirm that the language used to express political metaphors is emotionally charged, with a degree of heterogeneity. Our emotion scores increase the most in presence of a metaphor on subjects related to the economy, fiscal issues, and moral values.

2023-03-06 at 17:30h

Michael Poyker (University of Nottingham)

Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System

Abstract: I study the economic spillovers of convict labor on local labor markets and firms. Using newly collected panel data on U.S. prisons from 1886 to 1940, I calculate each county’s exposure to prisons. I exploit quasi-random variation in a county’s exposure to the capacities of pre-convict-labor prisons as an instrument. I find that competition from cheap prison-made goods led to higher unemployment and reduced wages (particularly for women) in counties that housed competing manufacturing industries. Affected industries innovated away from the competition and thus had higher patenting rates. I also document that technological changes in affected industries were capital-biased.

2023-02-20 at 17:30h

Peiyuan Li (University of Colorado Boulder)

Who Lost (or Won) China? Land Reform and War Mobilization

Abstract: Redistribution could be deliberately designed to trigger a civil war. How did the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rally millions of farmers to win in 1949? The crucial step was to initiate land reform through class struggle, empowering farmers to violently grab land from landlords. Farmers desired land ownership but feared reprisals from landlords, who were backed by the Kuomintang (KMT) government. Therefore, farmers had to choose between joining the CCP's army to defend their land and free-riding. Adopting a Difference-in-Difference design and examining the death records of 566,161 communist soldiers, I find that for counties within 82 kilometers of KMT forces, a greater share of land redistribution to farmers encouraged farmers to fight, leading to a rise in CCP soldier deaths after land reform. However, for counties that were farther than 82 kilometers from KMT forces, a greater share of land transfer to farmers discouraged farmers from fighting (free-riding), resulting in fewer soldier deaths after land reform. A model of class struggle for land ownership explains the two different patterns. This paper develops a novel theory of war mobilization and partially explains the emergence of communism in the twentieth century.

2023-02-06 at 17:30h

Miao Ben Zhang (University of Southern California)

The Cost of Regulatory Compliance in the United States (with Francesco Trebbi)

Abstract: We quantify firms' regulatory compliance costs from 2002 to 2014 in terms of their labor spending to adhere to government rules. Detailed establishment-level occupation data, in combination with occupation-specific task information, allow us to recover the share of an establishment's wage bill owing to employees engaged in regulatory compliance. Regulatory costs account on average for 1.34 to 3.33 percent of the total wage bill of a firm, totaling between $79 and $239 billion in 2014. We investigate the returns to scale in regulatory compliance and find an inverted-U shape, with the percentage regulatory spending peaking for a firm size of around 500 employees. Finally, we develop an instrumental variable methodology for decoupling the role of regulatory requirements from that of enforcement in driving firms' compliance costs.

2023-01-16 at 17:30h

Nikita Melnikov (Nova School of Business and Economics)

Mobile Internet and Political Polarization

Abstract: How has mobile internet affected political polarization in the United States? Using Gallup Daily Poll data covering 1,765,114 individuals in 31,499 ZIP codes between 2008 and 2017, I perform a difference-in-differences analysis and an instrumental-variable design to show that, after gaining access to 3G internet, Democratic voters became more liberal in their political views and increased their support for Democratic congressional candidates and policy priorities, while Republican voters shifted in the opposite direction. This increase in polarization largely did not take place among social media users. Instead, following the arrival of 3G, experienced internet and social media users from both parties became more pro-Democratic, whereas less-experienced users became more proRepublican. This divergence is partly driven by differences in news consumption between the two groups: after the arrival of 3G, experienced internet users decreased their consumption of Fox News, increased their consumption of CNN, and increased their political knowledge. Polarization also increased due to a political realignment of voters: wealthy, well-educated people became more liberal; poor, uneducated people—more conservative.

2023-01-09 at 17:30h

Annalí Casanueva Artís (PSE)

Can chants in the street change politics’ tune? Evidence from the 15M movement in Spain

Abstract: What are the long term effects of protests? This paper studies how the level of attendance at simultaneous marches organized by the 15M (the Spanish Occupy movement) impacted electoral behavior and political attitudes in the following decade. Using regional variation in weather shocks as an instrumental variable for the level of attendance at simultaneous marches, I find that cities with higher attendance are more concerned about corruption and vote more for left wing and anti-corruption parties and less for far-right parties. Using novel data from Twitter, I document, for the first time, a higher uptake of social media platforms after an offline protest and a persistent difference in online activity in cities with higher attendance. Using survey data, I also show a higher and longer-lasting electoral effect for people that have a social media account. Overall, this paper shows that street protests can have long-lasting effects on political concerns and electoral choices, explained, in part, by the creation of a persistent online social network.

2022-12-05 at 17:30h

Gloria Gennaro (UCL)

Immigration and Social Distance: Evidence from Newspapers during the Age of Mass Migration

Abstract: By Alessandra Stampi-Bombelli, Gloria Gennaro, Elliott Ash, Dominik Hangartner A constant of human history is the migration of peoples in search of a better future. In destination countries, these new arrivals come into contact with both the host population as well as already established immigrant communities. How does the arrival of new immigrants affect the perception of outgroup distance among the native majority group? And do new arrivals also change the perceived distance between the host population and existing immigrant groups? We address these questions in the context of the Age of Mass Migration (1860-1920), a period during which sizeable and diverse groups of migrants arrived on U.S. shores. Applying advanced computational linguistics techniques to a newly processed corpus of over 1.8 million newspaper issues (9 million pages) published by 3,675 local outlets in that period, we present a novel text-based measure of perceived socio-cultural distance between U.S.-born natives and 32 immigrant groups. For each mention of an immigrant group, we compute a distance measure that captures whether the group's framing more closely resembles contexts used when portraying immigrants, rather than natives. We use this time- and county-varying outcome to analyse the short- and medium-term effects of immigration inflows on local perceptions of socio-cultural distance toward the arriving and existing immigrant groups.

2022-10-17 at 17:30h

Christina J Schneider (UC San Diego)

Globalization and Promissory Representation

Abstract: Promissory representation holds that political parties make promises to voters during election campaigns and generally keep those promises after elections if they have the opportunity to do so. Specific campaign promises let voters know where parties stand on issues, and voters' assessments of governing parties' past records of pledge fulfill- ment is one way in which parties are held to account. Despite the centrality of promise keeping to representation, we know little about how it is affected by economic global- ization, which is one of the defining characteristics of the modern world. We argue that globalization reduces governing parties' ability to keep their campaign promises. Inter- national economic integration increases uncertainty about the feasibility of promises, imposes legal constraints in the form of international commitments that may impede promise keeping in unexpected ways, and empowers market actors that lobby govern- ments when promises threaten their interests. We test the empirical implications of our theory with a mixed-methods approach that combines a large-n quantitative com- parative analysis of pledge fulfillment with a typical case study to trace the underlying causal mechanisms of the theory. The findings indicate that international economic integration exerts a large negative effect on the likelihood of pledge fulfillment in a broad range of contexts and that the hypothesized mechanisms are clearly observable in the detailed case study. These findings have important implications for democratic representation in a globalized world.


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