Job Market Paper

“The Institutional Role of the Italian Mafia: Enforcing Contracts When the State Does Not”Draft
Italy has one of the slowest judicial systems in Europe. At the same time, there exists anecdotal evidence suggesting that informal contract enforcement can be provided by organized crime. I present a simple theoretical framework to explain why citizens may turn to the Mafia for contract enforcement when the State is increasingly unable to fulfil this service. I empirically test the main model prediction using a novel database of Mafia-controlled areas across Italy between 2014 and 2019. I obtain confidential yearly data from the Superior Council of the Judiciary about the judge’s retirement, which I use as a source of exogenous variation in the State’s enforcement capacity. Results indicate that the Mafia expands its control over the territory when the State weakens its contract enforcement capacity.

WINNER: Young Economist Award - EEA 2023

Working Papers

“The Persistence of the Sicilian Mafia” ◾ Draft available upon request
This paper documents the persistence of the presence of the Sicilian Mafia across centuries and provides evidence for one of the mechanisms at play: Mafia family power. Leveraging investigation reports containing Mafia surnames, I construct a new indicator of the presence of the Mafia and a measure of the turnover of families in power in 2014-2019. I find that the historical presence of the Mafia is responsible for at least 25% of the Mafia in 2019 and decreases short-term family turnover by 56%.

“Education Expansion, College Choice and Labour Market Success” ◾ Draft available upon request
joint with Paolo Ghinetti, Simone Moriconi, Costanza Naguib, Michele Pellizzari
We study the choice of acquiring STEM or non-STEM college education using variation induced by the proximity to universities offering STEM and/or non-STEM degrees. We adopt a novel methodology allowing the identification of the distribution of response types and several counterfactual outcomes (Heckman and Pinto, 2018). The empirical analysis is based on confidential survey data for Italy, combined with administrative information about the founding dates of all Italian universities and faculties. We find that most compliers are at the margin of choosing STEM education versus not going to college. Response types at the margin of choosing STEM vs non-STEM education are a small minority in the population. We simulate the effects of some hypothetical reforms expanding the supply of colleges and we find sizeable impacts on employment, earnings and working conditions, particularly for women.