Does Emigration Delay Political Change? Evidence from Italy during the Great Recession?
Massimo Anelli, Giovanni Peri, 2016
International mobility of people brings great opportunities and large overall benefits. Econom- ically stagnant areas, however, may be deprived of talent through emigration, which may harm dynamism and delay political and economic change. A significant episode of emigration took place between 2010 and 2014 from Italy following the deep economic recession beginning in 2008 that hit most acutely countries in southern Europe. This period coincided with significant political change in Italy. Combining administrative data on Italians abroad and data on characteristics of municipal councils and mayors and on local elections, we analyze whether emigration reduced political change. Economic pull factors from foreign countries, interacted with the pre-existing networks of emigration from Italian municipalities allow us to construct a proxy for emigration that is municipality-specific and independent of pre-existing political and economic trends. Using this proxy as an instrument, we find that municipalities with larger emigration rates had slower growth in the share of young, college educated and women among local elected officials. They were also more likely to have their municipal council dismissed and experienced a lower share of votes to anti-status quo parties and a decrease in political participation.