Working Papers

Adolph, C., Amano, K., Bang-Jensen, B., Fullman, N., Magistro, B., Reinke, G. and Wilkerson, J. The Pandemic Policy U-Turn:The Role of Partisanship, Public Health, and Race in
Decisions to Ease Social Distancing in the U.S. (R&R)

We examine the US states’ evolving policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the timing of governors’ decisions to begin easing five types of social distancing policies from mid-April to early July 2020. Applying event history models to original data on policy easing, we find that states meeting the CDC’s guidelines for phased reopening and states with larger recent declines in COVID-19 deaths per capita were quicker to ease. However, the most important predictor of how quickly a state made the U-turn towards easing is the governor’s party affiliation: Republican governors eased more quickly, all else equal. Governors of states with larger Black populations eased earlier, which is noteworthy given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black communities and indicative of systematic neglect of Black constituents, with potentially disastrous spillover effects.

Adolph, C., Amano, K., Bang-Jensen, B., Fullman, N., Magistro, B., Reinke, G. and Wilkerson, J. Governor partisanship explains the adoption of statewide mandates to wear face coverings. (R&R)

Available here

Public mask use has emerged as a key tool in response to COVID-19. We develop and document a classification of statewide mask mandates that reveals variation in their scope and timing. Some U.S. states quickly mandated the wearing of face coverings in most public spaces, whereas others issued narrow mandates or no mandate at all. We consider how differences in COVID-19 epidemiological indicators, state capacity, and partisan politics affect when states adopted broad mask mandates. The most important predictor is whether a state is led by a Republican governor. These states were much slower to adopt mandates, if they did so at all. COVID-19 indicators such as confirmed cases or deaths per million are much less important predictors of statewide mask mandates. This finding highlights a key challenge to public efforts to increase mask-wearing, widely believed to be one of the most effective tools for preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 while restoring economic activity.

Magistro, B. and Menaldo, V., The Perils of Economic Populism

Available here

What is the relationship between economic crises and populism? Once almost exclusively the domain of Latin Americanists, the study of populism has emerged as a leading research agenda for scholars who study Europe and the US. However, researchers have hitherto failed to systematically account for the logic of economic populism and the fact that 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 provide a framework to make sense of this pattern and explain the systematic, mutually reinforcing association between crises and populism. We also adduce supporting evidence from very different places, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Greece, and Italy, and across disparate time periods. We argue that populism almost always threatens both liberal democracy and welfare state capitalism and 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. We also speculate about what might be in store for liberal democracy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Magistro, B. and Wittstock, N., The rise and fall of anti-immigration parties in Italy: changes in immigration preferences and issue salience (R&R)

Available here

In many European countries, the recent electoral success of far-right parties coincided with increased immigration throughout the 2000s. While some have argued that these parallel trends suggest that immigration sours public opinion towards foreigners, a growing literature notes that immigration preferences remained stable. According to others, rising immigration activates related preferences politically, inducing people to vote based on their opinions on this issue. In this paper, we investigate the overlooked case of Italy, which has featured anti-immigration parties for decades. Using ITANES data, we find that immigration preferences remained stable throughout the 2000s but that the political salience of immigration varied considerably, closely tracking the anti-immigration vote. We find that anti-immigration voters are more likely to vote for an anti-immigrant party when immigration is a high- (rather than low-) salience issue to them, suggesting that issue-salience, rather than changing preferences, drives the electoral success of the far-right in Italy