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Does emigration delay political change? Evidence from Italy during the great recession


  • Massimo Anelli
  • Giovanni Peri


SUMMARYInternational mobility of people brings great opportunities and large overall benefits. Economically stagnant areas, however, may be deprived of talent through emigration. This may harm dynamism and political and economic change. Between 2010 and 2014, Italy experienced a large wave of emigration and two deep recessions and significant political change. Combining administrative data on Italian expatriates and data on characteristics of municipal councils, mayors and on local elections, we analyse whether emigration affected 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, as we show, 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 lower political participation and a lower share of votes to anti-status-quo parties.

Suggested Citation

  • Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri, 2017. "Does emigration delay political change? Evidence from Italy during the great recession," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(91), pages 551-596.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecpoli:v:32:y:2017:i:91:p:551-596.

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    Cited by:

    1. Massimo Anelli & Gætano Basso & Giuseppe Ippedico & Giovanni Peri, 2020. "Does Emigration Drain Entrepreneurs?," CESifo Working Paper Series 8388, CESifo.
    2. Anca Turcu & R. Urbatsch, 2020. "Go Means Green: Diasporas’ Affinity for EcologicalGroups," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 20(1), pages 82-102, February.
    3. Bertoni, Marco & Chattopadhyay, Debdeep & Gu, Yuanyuan, 2023. "Medical Brain Drain – Assessing the Role of Job Attributes and Individual Traits," IZA Discussion Papers 16243, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Jacopo Bassetto & Giuseppe Ippedico, 2023. "Can Tax Incentives Bring Brains Back? Returnees Tax Schemes and High-Skilled Migration in Italy," CESifo Working Paper Series 10271, CESifo.
    5. Michele Valsecchi & Ruben Durante, 2020. "Internal migration and the spread of Covid-19," Working Papers w0276, New Economic School (NES).
    6. Anna Kyriazi & Mariana S. Mendes & Julia Rone & Manès Weisskircher, 2023. "The Politics of Emigration in Europe: A Research Agenda," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 563-575, March.
    7. Pugno, Maurizio, 2021. "Italy’s parabolas of GDP and subjective well-being: the role of education," MPRA Paper 107948, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Pieroni, Luca & Roig, Melcior Rosselló & Salmasi, Luca, 2023. "Italy: Immigration and the evolution of populism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    9. Slivko, Olga, 2018. ""Brain gain" on Wikipedia: Immigrants return knowledge home," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-008, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    10. Samuel Nocito & Marcello Sartarelli & Francesco Sobbrio, 2022. "A Beam of Light: Media, Tourism and Economic Development," Working Papers 2/22, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
    11. Fabiano Schivardi & Tom Schmitz, 2020. "The IT Revolution and Southern Europe’s Two Lost Decades [Lack of Selection and Limits to Delegation: Firm Dynamics in Developing Countries]," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 18(5), pages 2441-2486.
    12. Artjoms Ivlevs, 2021. "Does Emigration Affect Pro‐environmental Behaviour Back Home? A Long‐Term, Local‐Level Perspective," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 74(1), pages 48-76, February.
    13. Massimo Anelli & Gaetano Basso & Giuseppe Ippedico & Giovanni Peri, 2019. "Youth Drain Entrepreneurship and Innovation," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1240, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    14. Mounir Karadja & Erik Prawitz, 2019. "Exit, Voice, and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1864-1925.
    15. Nocito, Samuel & Sartarelli, Marcello & Sobbrio, Francesco, 2023. "A beam of light: Media, tourism and economic development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    16. Riccardo Turati, 2020. "Network-based Connectedness and the Diffusion of Cultural Traits," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020012, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    17. Erminia Florio, 2019. "Are We in The Same Boat? The Legacy of Historical Emigration on Attitudes towards Immigrants," CEIS Research Paper 478, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 12 Nov 2021.
    18. Yvonne Giesing & Felicitas Schikora, 2020. "Migrants' Missing Votes," CESifo Working Paper Series 8570, CESifo.
    19. Moriconi, Simone & Peri, Giovanni & Turati, Riccardo, 2019. "Immigration and voting for redistribution: Evidence from European elections," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations


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