Job Market Paper
Us vs. Them: Unionization as Anti-Immigration Backlash [draft coming soon!]
This paper shows that anti-immigrant sentiment led to the development of labor unions in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. Using a novel panel on unionization from newly digitized documents and a shift-share instrument to exploit exogenous variation in immigration between 1900 and 1920, I find that counties that received more immigrants experienced an increase in the number of unions and the share of unionized workers. Exploring the mechanisms, I show that the effect is driven by an increased participation of U.S.-born workers, and concentrated in the unions that adopted nativist positions during this period. Further, the increase in unionization was caused by the arrival of culturally distant immigrants, and amplified in places with worse attitudes towards immigration. Instead, labor unions did not grow more in counties more exposed to the immigrants' competition in the labor market. These findings identify a novel and unexplored consequence of the anti-immigration backlash: the development of institutions that aim to protect workers' status in the labor market. They also highlight immigration as an important driver of unionization in the early twentieth century, accounting for approximately a quarter of the average growth in craft unionization of this period.
Work in Progress
"Political Cycles in Black Union Membership"
A broad strand of literature in economics has studied political cycles, especially focusing on how politicians manipulate budgets to increase their chances of re-election. Much less attention has been given to how the political cycle affects the incentives and behavior of organizations. In this paper, I study how elections affect public sector labor unions, a type of organization with well-acknowledged ties to politics, and the Democratic party in particular. I find that, in presidential election years, unionization rates increase for Black workers. The effect is larger in the occurrence of open seat elections; in Blue states; and, among constituencies where other institutions that mobilize Black voters, such as the NAACP or the Black church, are less present. This evidence is consistent with a mechanism in which labor unions increase their membership to more effectively lobby politicians ahead of a general election, by targeting and mobilizing workers who are otherwise less likely to turn out to vote, and more likely to lean Democratic.
"Patronage and Careers in the Federal Civil Service: Evidence from U.S. Judges" (with Massimo Pulejo)
Political connections are a pervasive method for the selection of public sector workers worldwide. Yet, the existing literature on patronage has largely focused on developing countries or drawn case studies from historical contexts. This paper analyzes the consequences of patronage in the federal civil service of the United States, which still occurs today. Focusing on the federal judiciary system from 1789 to the present and leveraging previously unused data, we use difference-in-differences and event-study designs to show that the career trajectories of federal judges are crucially shaped by the tenure of the senator(s) who recommends their nomination, and to inquire whether and how this connection influences judges' productivity and sentencing decisions. This project makes three contributions. First, it documents the consequences that the selection of public officials through patronage has in a major, developed economy. Second, it shows how patronage appointments for entry-level positions can affect careers within an organization. Third, it challenges the claim that political appointments may solve biases arising from the direct election of public officials.
“The Economic Effects of Public Hiring Constraints” (with Maria Carreri, Edoardo Di Porto, Edoardo Teso, and Silvia Vannutelli).
How do public administrations cope with tight limits on external hiring? What is the effect of these limits on public sector performance? How does the size of public employment affect local labor markets and private sector growth? In this paper, we aim to address these questions by: (i) leveraging rich administrative data on the universe of both public and private sector employees in the Italian labor market; and, (ii) exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in hiring constraints across different Italian public administrations induced by a 2008 reform that limited public sector hiring. With the findings of this paper, we aim to contribute to a long-standing debate on the public employment effects on the labor market, by exploiting exogenous variation in the size of local public employment; and, to the literature on internal labor markets, by focusing on a unique setting that allows us to document how the internal labor market of public sector organizations responds to shocks in external hiring ability.
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Explorations in Economic History
Business Analytics | Summer 2019, 2020, 2021
Making Business Decisions with Big Data | Winter 2020, 2021
Statistical Decision Analysis | Winter 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 (Evanston) and Fall 2020, 2021, 2022 (Miami)