Research

Please scroll down to read the abstracts of the articles and working papers.

Publications

Economic Inequality, Immigrants, and Selective Solidarity: From Perceived Lack of Social Mobility to Ingroup Favoritism (conditionally accepted, British Journal of Political Science)

Candidate Sexual Orientation Didn’t Matter (in the Way You Might Think) in the 2015 UK General Election (with Andrew Reynolds) (American Political Science Review, 2018) (article)

It’s the Emotions, Stupid! Anger about the Economic Crisis, Low Political Efficacy, and Support for Populist Parties (Electoral Studies, 2017) (article)

Under review

What is a Career Politician? Theories, Concept, and Measures (with Nicholas Allen and Donald Searing) (Revise and Resubmit, European Political Science Review)

Voter Preferences and the Political Underrepresentation of Minority Groups: Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Candidates in Advanced Democracies (with Andrew Reynolds)

Gender, Legislators and Political Responsiveness: Field Experiments from Europe and Latin America (with Zoila Ponce de Leon)

The Role of LGBTI Issues in Elections (chapter in edited volume) (Revise and Resubmit, Oxford University Press)

Work in progress

When Can Immigrants Overcome Negative Attitudes? Immigrants, Economic Contributions, and Welfare Attitudes

Economic Unfairness, Education, and Political Participation: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach

How Do Voters React to Candidates with Identified Health Conditions? (with Andrew Reynolds)

HIV+ Candidates in Advanced Democracies: Sources of Voter Bias (with Andrew Reynolds)

ABSTRACTS

Economic inequality, anxiety, and group identity

Economic Inequality, Immigrants, and Selective Solidarity: From Perceived Lack of Social Mobility to Ingroup Favoritism (revise and resubmit, British Journal of Political Science)
How does economic inequality affect support for redistribution to native citizens and immigrants? While existing scholarship examines the separate effects of inequality and immigration on preferences for redistribution, still missing is a good understanding of how inequality and communal identity interact. This article explains that inequality triggers selective solidarity. Individuals exposed to inequality become more supportive of redistribution – but only if redistribution benefits native-born citizens. Inequality, therefore, reinforces ingroup favoritism and increases the gap between support for natives and support for immigrants. I first provide cross-national evidence with OECD survey data linked to contextual socio-economic indicators. To evaluate causally identified effects, I then present an original survey experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample of Italian citizens. The findings imply that economic inequality can increase support for populist radical right parties who advocate for discrimination in access to welfare services based on native citizenship.

When Can Immigrants Overcome Negative Attitudes? Immigrants, Economic Contributions, and Welfare Attitudes
Who deserves welfare support? Does being a native citizen matter more or less than providing economic contributions? And can immigrants reduce their disadvantage by displaying attractive economic characteristics? Most of the existing literature neglects the interplay of economic contributions and identity. To unpack these conditions, I ran original survey conjoint experiments with nationally representative samples in the US, UK, France, and Italy. National origin emerges as the most powerful determinant of welfare attitudes. Immigrants – even from Western Europe – are considered less deserving than unemployed who are not looking for a job and have never had regular jobs. However, the relative importance of economic and identity characteristics, along with the ability of immigrants to reduce their penalty, vary substantially across countries. In the US and the UK, immigrants can reduce their disadvantage by showing hard work credentials, while in Italy and France immigrants fail to reduce their penalty with positive economic cues.

It’s the Emotions, Stupid! Anger about the Economic Crisis, Low Political Efficacy, and Support for Populist Parties (Electoral Studies, 2017) (article)
This article examines the impact of anger about the economic crisis on turnout and vote choice. I argue that the impact of anger about the economy is moderated by feelings of political efficacy. Among citizens with low efficacy, anger decreases electoral participation and fuels support for populist parties. In contrast, angry voters with high efficacy do not vote less often; they also increase support for mainstream opposition parties. I test the theory with the 2005-2010 British election panel study, which allow me to address endogeneity concerns and control for pre-crisis political engagement and other negative emotions.

Economic Unfairness, Education, and Political Participation: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach
Survey data from Europe and the US depict a public deeply and increasingly unsatisfied with the unfairness of the economic system. How does economic unfairness influence political participation? This study shows that perceptions of economic unfairness lead to a decrease in conventional participation, especially in costly forms of political engagement. This is because individuals who consider society unfair question the legitimacy of traditional channels as means of interest representation. On the other hand, economic unfairness increases unconventional participation, but only among individuals with high education. The analysis relies on the 2013 German Election Study and adopts structural equation modeling with latent variables, which allows me to simultaneously consider different forms of participation, address measurement errors that often affect reported indicators of participation, and test the causal mechanism hinging on perceived legitimacy of the political system.

Group identity and political representation

Candidate Sexual Orientation Didn’t Matter (in the Way You Might Think) in the 2015 UK General Election (with Andrew Reynolds) (American Political Science Review, 2018) (article)
After building an original dataset with constituency variables and individual-level data on more than 3,000 candidates in the 2015 UK election, we show that LGBT candidates did not decrease party vote share – even in conservative constituencies. To deal with compositional data, we adopt seemingly unrelated regressions with logistic ratio transformation of the dependent variable, and we control for candidate education, political experience, and campaign spending. This is the first quantitative investigation of the electoral impact of candidate sexual orientation.

Voter Preferences and the Political Underrepresentation of Minority Groups: LGBTQ and HIV+ Candidates in Advanced Democracies (with Andrew Reynolds) (under review)
Minority groups have long been underrepresented in politics. Support for LGBTQ rights and the incidence of LGBTQ candidates have dramatically increased in recent years. But do voters (still) penalize LGBTQ and HIV+ candidates? We conducted survey experiments with nationally representative samples in the US, UK and New Zealand. To varying degrees voters penalize LGBTQ and HIV+ candidates in all countries, with penalties strongest in the US. Yet, progressives, people with LGBTQ friends, and non-religious individuals do not discriminate against gays and lesbians, while transgender and HIV+ candidates face stronger bias. Outright prejudice, identity as a cueing mechanism (i.e. LGBTQ candidates seen as more liberal), and electability concerns explain voter bias. This study contributes to the literature on minority candidates and disentangles the effect of correlated candidate attributes, exploring the intersectionality of bias. Understanding the barriers to the election of LGBTQ people is crucial to improve the representation of marginalized communities.

Gender, Legislators and Political Responsiveness: Field Experiments from Europe and Latin America (with Zoila Ponce de Leon) (under review)
We conducted an audit experiment on gender and representation conducted with 3,685 members of parliament from 11 countries in Europe and Latin America. In the experiment, a citizen alias – whose gender is randomized – sends an email to members of parliament inquiring about unemployment benefits in Europe and healthcare services in Latin America. The countries in the experiment allow for variation in electoral systems, which influence extrinsic motivations of elected officials, and proportion of female members of parliament, which could affect the link between gender and responsiveness. We find that legislators are overall significantly more likely to respond to women (+3%), especially in Europe (+4.3%). In Europe, this result is driven by the behavior of female legislators, who consistently reply more to women than men (+8.4%).

What is a Career Politician? Theories, Concept, and Measures (with Nicholas Allen and Donald Searing) (under review)
This paper examines the concept of “career politician.” It clarifies, systematizes, and measures this concept in order to facilitate testing theories and hypotheses associated with it. We argue that career politicians are a sub-set of professional politicians who have distinguishing attributes for which they are both praised and condemned. From compliments and condemnations put forward by political scientists, journalists, publics, and politicians, we extract three dimensions: Commitment, Lack of Experience, and Ambition. These dimensions and their indicators fit Wittgenstein’s family resemblance conceptual structure, which is how we analyze and measure them with data from a longitudinal study of British MPs spanning 1971-2016.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like any additional information on my ongoing research projects.