CARLO MEDICI


I am a PhD candidate in Managerial Economics and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


My research is in the areas of Labor Economics, Political Economy, and Economic History.


You can find my CV here.



Contact information:

carlo.medici [at] kellogg.northwestern.edu

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

2211 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Working Papers

Closing Ranks: Organized Labor and Immigration [PDF]

This paper shows that immigration positively affected the emergence of organized labor in the United States. I digitize archival data to construct the first county-level dataset on historical U.S. union membership and use a shift-share instrument to isolate a plausibly exogenous shock to the labor supply induced by immigration, between 1900 and 1920. Counties that received more immigration experienced an increase in the probability of having any labor union, the share of unionized workers, the number of local union branches, and the average branch size. The increase occurred more prominently in counties more exposed to the immigrants’ labor competition and harboring less favorable attitudes towards immigration. Taken together, these results indicate that existing workers formed and joined labor unions due to economic and social motivations. The findings shed light on a novel driver of unionization in the early 20th-century United States: in the absence of immigration, the average union density of this period would have been 17% lower. They also identify an unexplored consequence of immigration: the development of institutions that aim to protect workers’ status in the labor market.

"The Impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act on U.S. Economic Development" (with Joe Long, Nancy Qian and Marco Tabellini) [PDF]

This paper documents several facts about the impact of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act on the economic development of the western United States. The ban of Chinese immigrants reduced the total number of Chinese immigrants as well as the labor supply of Chinese workers, especially among the more educated ones. The decline in labor supply was driven by manufacturing, railroad and mining. The Act had similar negative effects on other workers, including native-born white workers and European immigrants, the intended beneficiaries of Chinese Exclusion. The Act also reduced manufacturing output, productivity and the number of manufacturing establishments. The adverse economic effects were long-lasting and persisted until at least 1940.

"Political Connections, Careers, and Performance in the Civil Service: Evidence from U.S. Federal Judges" (with Massimo Pulejo) [new draft available upon request]

This paper analyzes the consequences of political connections in the civil service of the United States. Focusing on the federal judiciary system, where political appointments are the selection method still used today, and leveraging individual-level data on judges and members of Congress from 1789 to the present, we use a difference-in-differences design to compare the careers and performance of judges before and after the senator who recommended their nomination leaves Congress. After losing the connection to their recommender, the probability of a judge being promoted from a district court to a court of appeals decreases by up to 48%. Such impact emerges in years in which judges share partisanship with the incumbent president, and they could thus benefit from the lobbying efforts of their political connection. This event has also sizable consequences on judges' performance: following the recommender's exit from Congress, judges write fewer judicial opinions, of shorter length, and of poorer quality, as proxied by both fewer backward and forward citations. These results are consistent with judges reducing their effort and productivity once their career prospects are drastically hindered. 

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.


The Economic Effects of Public Hiring Constraints (with Maria Carreri, Edoardo Di Porto, Edoardo Teso, and Silvia Vannutelli)

Project made possible thanks to the Visitinps Scholars program, granting access to the universe of Italian Social Security Data.   

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.


Referee Activity


American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Explorations in Economic History

Teaching Assistance


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