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Does Emigration Delay Political Change? Evidence from Italy during the Great Recession


  • Massimo Anelli
  • Giovanni Peri


Mobility within the European Union (EU) brings great opportunities and large overall benefits. Economically 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 the southern EU. This period coincided with significant political change in Italy. Combining administrative data on Italian citizens who reside abroad and data on characteristics of city councils, city mayors and local vote, we analyze whether emigration reduced political change. The sudden emigration wave 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 local political and economic trends. Using this proxy as an instrument, we find that municipalities with larger emigration rates had smaller shares of young, college educated and women among local politicians. They were also more likely to have had municipal councils dismissed due to inefficiency or corruption, a larger share of vote for status-quo-supporting parties and lower political participation. Migration was also associated with lower firm creation.

Suggested Citation

  • Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Does Emigration Delay Political Change? Evidence from Italy during the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 22350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22350
    Note: LS POL

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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. Michele Valsecchi & Ruben Durante, 2020. "Internal migration and the spread of Covid-19," Working Papers w0276, New Economic School (NES).
    3. 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.
    4. Pugno, Maurizio, 2021. "Italy’s parabolas of GDP and subjective well-being: the role of education," MPRA Paper 107948, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Slivko, Olga, 2018. ""Brain gain" on Wikipedia: Immigrants return knowledge home," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-008, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    6. 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.
    7. Nocito, Samuel & Sartarelli, Marcello & Sobbrio, Francesco, 2023. "A beam of light: Media, tourism and economic development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    8. 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).
    9. Massimo Anelli & Gaetano Basso & Giuseppe Ippedico & Giovanni Peri, 2019. "Youth Drain, Entrepreneurship and Innovation," NBER Working Papers 26055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. 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.
    11. Yvonne Giesing & Felicitas Schikora, 2020. "Migrants' Missing Votes," CESifo Working Paper Series 8570, CESifo.
    12. Moriconi, Simone & Peri, Giovanni & Turati, Riccardo, 2019. "Immigration and voting for redistribution: Evidence from European elections," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    13. Anca Turcu & R. Urbatsch, 2020. "Go Means Green: Diasporas’ Affinity for EcologicalGroups," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 20(1), pages 82-102, February.
    14. 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).
    15. 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.
    16. Pieroni, Luca & Roig, Melcior Rosselló & Salmasi, Luca, 2023. "Italy: Immigration and the evolution of populism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    17. 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.
    18. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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