Working Papers

Magistro, B., Loewen, P., Bonikowski, B., Borwein, S., and Lee-Whiting, B. Attitudes toward automation and the demand for policies addressing job loss: the effects of information about trade-offs. Under Review

Available here

Does providing information about the costs and benefits of automation affect support for automation and for different policies in response? To answer this question, we use a combination of survey and conjoint experiments across four advanced economies (Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US). Our results show that despite people’s relatively fixed policy preferences, their evaluation of automation—and therefore potentially the issue’s political salience—is sensitive to information about its trade-offs, especially to price changes. This suggests that automation may have different political consequences depending on how it is framed by the media and political actors.

Borwein, S.,  Magistro, B., Loewen, P., Bonikowski, B., and Lee-Whiting, B. The Gender Gap in Attitudes Toward Workplace Technological Change. Under Review

We provide one of the first systematic analyses of gender’s effect on attitudes toward workplace automation and artificial intelligence (AAI). Using data from a survey of ten advanced economies, and comparing the gender gap in attitudes toward automation with the gender gap in attitudes toward offshoring and market changes, we provide evidence of a significant gender gap in attitudes towards all economic shocks, including the adoption of technology in the workplace. We find that women are significantly less likely to perceive automation as fair and more likely to support government intervention in response to such shock than men. Drawing in part on insights from the literature on gender differences in attitudes toward other economic shocks, we examine four sets of potential explanations for this gap: differences in economic self-interest, knowledge gaps, different levels of sociotropic concern, and differences in social status perceptions. We find that accounting for these various explanations does not substantially reduce the gender gap in automation preferences.

Aslett, K., Magistro, B. and Wack, M. Sports-Washing? Evidence from English Premier League Fans after Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine.

Can investment from authoritarian regimes in sports clubs based in democratic countries reduce public criticism levied against them? To address this question, we study the case of Roman Abramovich, a famous Russian owner of the popular Chelsea Football Club. Using 750,000 tweets written by British soccer fans, we investigate how fans of the Chelsea Football Club discuss the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in the weeks after February 24th, 2022. Using a fine-tuned BERT machine learning model, we classify whether tweets written by supporters of top-flight English Premier League clubs in London discuss the Ukraine-Russia conflict, denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine, support Ukraine, and/or criticize the west. We find evidence that supporters of Chelsea Football Club are much less likely to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, criticize Russia for its invasion, and voice support for Ukraine. This paper presents, for the first time, empirical findings that support the sports-washing hypothesis that authoritarian regimes can reduce public criticism of their regimes by investing in popular sports clubs.

Magistro, B. and Menaldo, V., How Populism Harms Prosperity: Unified Populist Rule Reduces Investment, Innovation, and Productivity. Under Review

Available here

The economic cost of populism is high. This paper finds that when a populist executive rules alongside a populist majority in the legislature, this reduces a country’s growth rate of real Per Capita Income by 3.7% below its trend, a phenomenon that spans over a 12-year period before returning to the pre-populist equilibrium. We also outline the mechanics behind these numbers, and provide systematic evidence for our argument. Populists from either the left or right, in rich or poor countries, in nations open to trade or more autarkic ones, and across both liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes, tend to converge on a similar political economic model: protectionism, crony capitalism, and redistribution. This undermines productivity by increasing the size of government without parallel investments in infrastructure, basic science, and education, and by reducing private investment, R&D spending, researchers per capita, and patents per capita. We arrive at these findings by estimating ARDL dynamic panel models via System GMM, which increases our confidence that these long run effects run from populism to economic underdevelopment. To do so, we introduce a new measure of populism that identifies whether populists control both the executive and legislative branches and illustrate how Argentina’s post World War II political and economic history elucidates our framework. 

Magistro, B. and Wack, M., Racial Bias in Fans and Officials: Evidence from the Italian Serie A. (Accepted at Sociology)

Available here

Recent scholarship studying the impact of racism and race-based prejudice has begun to elucidate its rampant persistence throughout all contexts of modern society, including the world of sports. Prior research from American sports leagues has shown that even referees, trained officials intended to enact neutral judgements, are subject to bias against Black and dark-skinned players. To extend these studies and inform policies aimed at combating racial bias in public spaces more broadly, we report results from a unique dataset of over 6,000 player-year observations from the Italian Serie A to examine whether these biases also exist in European football. Our results show that darker-skinned players receive more foul calls and more cards than lighter-skinned players, controlling for a range of confounders. By exploiting an absence of fans induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, we also present preliminary evidence that fans may play a key role in inducing poor calls against darker-skinned players.

Borwein, S., Bonikowski, B., Loewen, P., Lee-Whiting, B. and Magistro, B. Perceived automation threat, populism, and vote choice: evidence from 15 European democracies. . Under Review

The political consequences of Automation and Artificial Intelligence has become the focus of some populism and nationalism literature. We contribute to this literature by drawing from a data set of over 15,000 respondents from 15 European countries to estimate how respondents’ egotropic and sociotropic fears about automation and job loss relate to party support. We find a positive relationship between personal automation risk and left voting, but a negative relationship between personal automation risk and support for populist right parties. We find that nativism suppresses the overall negative relationship between personal automation fear and populist right party support. We also find that that perceptions of collective threat increases intentions to vote for populist right parties, but not other party families. Overall, our analysis suggests that both non-populist and populist left parties could be positioned to make substantial gains when citizens feel more personally exposed to automation and AI.

Loewen, P.,  Stevens, B.A., Sidh, D. and Magistro, B.,  What Kind of Algorithmic Governance do Citizens Want?

As governments increasingly adopt algorithms and artificial intelligence (AAI), we still know comparatively little about citizens’ support for algorithmic governance. In this paper we analyze how many and what kind of reasons for government use of AAI citizens support, and how this varies at the individual and country levels. We use a sample of about 17,000 respondents from 16 OECD countries and find that opinions on algorithmic governance are divided. A narrow majority of people (55.6%) support a majority of reasons for using algorithmic governance. This is relatively consistent across countries (ranging from 44.3% in France to 67.2% in Italy). Results from a multilevel model with country random effects suggest that most of the cross-country variation is explained by individual-level characteristics, including age, education, gender, and income. Older and more educated respondents are more accepting of algorithmic governance, while female and low income respondents are less supportive. Finally, we classify the reasons for using algorithmic governance into two main types, “fairness” and “efficiency”. The two are positively correlated, but vary based on individuals’ political attitudes. Specifically, right-wing respondents are more accepting of efficiency reasons, left-wing respondents are more accepting of fairness reasons, while populist respondents are less accepting of fairness reasons.

Magistro, B. and Menaldo, V., Exploring Economic Populism, a Neglected, but Growing, Phenomenon

Available here

The economic cost of populism is extremely high: after 15 years, GDP per capita is 10% lower compared to plausible non-populist counterfactuals. We seek to look under the hood and explain the mechanics behind these numbers: we provide a framework to make sense of this pattern and explain the systematic, mutually reinforcing association between populism and economic dysfunction and underperformance. Populists emanating from either the left or the right tend to converge on a similar political economic model: protectionism, crony capitalism, and inveterate rent seeking. We also adduce supporting evidence from very different places, Argentina, Chile, Greece, and Italy, and across disparate time periods. We argue that populism almost always ushers in economic collapse. We posit that a key reason for this is that, rather than seeing economic interactions as “win-win” situations, populists are obsessed with zero-sum thinking.

Magistro, B. How durable is the impact of the European debt crisis on attitudes on national and EU democracy and governance? A closing gap.

Available here

Studies find that the European debt crisis and the austerity policies forced upon deficit countries by the EU and the IMF affected citizens’ attitudes on democracy and governance. The conditionality imposed upon peripheral Eurozone countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Cyprus, Greece and Spain) reduced institutional trust at both the national and EU levels, creating a trust gap between conditionality and no-conditionality countries. This letter uses a difference-in-difference event study design to investigate whether this gap is permanent or whether it fades away over time. Findings suggest that attitudes on national and EU democracy and governance worsened in 2010 after the European debt crisis in conditionality countries as opposed to other EU countries. However, this gap started to reduce in 2014, and was eventually closed in 2017.

%d bloggers like this: