Working Papers

Magistro, B. and Wack, M., Racial Bias in Fans and Officials: Evidence from the Italian Serie A.

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.

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

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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.

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