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Alberto Alesina

Bio: Alberto Alesina is an academic researcher from Harvard University. The author has contributed to research in topics: Fiscal policy & Redistribution (cultural anthropology). The author has an hindex of 135, co-authored 498 publications receiving 93388 citations. Previous affiliations of Alberto Alesina include International Monetary Fund & Bocconi University.


Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper analyzed the relationship between economics and politics and concluded that inequality is conducive to the adoption of growth-retarding policies, and presented cross-country evidence consistent with it. But their analysis focused on how an economy's initial configuration of resources shapes the political struggle for income and wealth distribution, and how that, in turn, affects long run growth.
Abstract: A crude distinction between economics and politics would be that economics is concerned with expanding the pie while politics is about distributing it. In this paper we analyze the relationship between the two. We focus on how an economy's initial configuration of resources shapes the political struggle for income and wealth distribution, and how that, in turn, affects long-run growth. Our main conclusion is that inequality is conducive to the adoption of growth-retarding policies. We derive this result from a simple political-economy model of growth, and present cross-country evidence consistent with it. The key feature of our model is that individuals differ in their relative factor endowments. We distinguish between two types of factors: an accumulated factor (called "capital") and a nonaccumulated factor (called "labor"). Growth is driven by the expansion of the capital stock, which is in turn determined by individual saving decisions. Long-run growth is endogenous, as the aggregate production function is taken to be linearly homogeneous in capital and (productive) government services taken together. The provision of government services is financed by a tax on capital. Because government services are productive, a "small" tax on

3,217 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: In this article, the authors present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public goods the city supplies, and conclude that ethnic conflict is an important determinant of local public finances.
Abstract: We present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public good the city supplies. We test the implications of the model with three related datasets: US cities, US metropolitan areas, and US urban counties. Results show that productive public goods -- education, roads, libraries, sewers and trash pickup -- in US cities (metro areas/urban counties) are inversely related to the city's (metro area's/county's) ethnic fragmentation, even after controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic determinants. Ethnic fragmentation is negatively related to the share of local spending on welfare. The results are mainly driven by observations in which majority whites are reacting to varying sizes of minority groups. We conclude that ethnic conflict is an important determinant of local public finances.

2,613 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors identify a channel for an inverse relationship between income inequality and growth, and measure socio-political instability with indices which capture the occurrence of more or less violent phenomena of political unrest.

2,490 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: The authors found that the direction of foreign aid is dictated by political and strategic considerations, much more than by the economic needs and policy performance of the recipients, and that countries that democratize receive more aid, ceteris paribus.
Abstract: This paper studies the pattern of allocation of foreign aid from various donors to receiving countries. We find considerable evidence that the direction of foreign aid is dictated by political and strategic considerations, much more than by the economic needs and policy performance of the recipients. Colonial past and political alliances are the major determinants of foreign aid. At the margin, however, countries that democratize receive more aid, ceteris paribus. While foreign aid flows respond more to political variables, foreign direct investments are more sensitive to economic incentives, particularly property rights in the receiving countries. We also uncover significant differences in the behavior of different donors.

2,346 citations

Book
01 Jan 1999
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public goods the city supplies, showing that the shares of spending on productive public goods - education, roads, sewers, and trash pickup - in U.S. cities (metro areas/urban counties) are inversely related to the city's ethnic fragmentation.
Abstract: The authors present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public good the city supplies. Results show that the shares of spending on productive public goods - education, roads, sewers, and trash pickup _ in U.S. cities (metro areas/urban counties) are inversely related to the city's (metro area's/county's) ethnic fragmentation, even after controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic determinants. They conclude that the ethnic conflict is an important determinant of local public finances. In cities where ethnic groups are polarized, and where politicians have ethnic constituencies, the share of spending that goes to public goods is low. Their results are driven mainly by how white-majority cities react to varying minority-groups sizes. Voters choose lower public goods when a significant fraction of tax revenues collected from one ethnic group is used to provide public goods shared with other ethnic groups.

2,033 citations


Cited by
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Book
01 Jan 1990
TL;DR: In this paper, Esping-Andersen distinguishes three major types of welfare state, connecting these with variations in the historical development of different Western countries, and argues that current economic processes such as those moving toward a post-industrial order are shaped not by autonomous market forces but by the nature of states and state differences.
Abstract: Few discussions in modern social science have occupied as much attention as the changing nature of welfare states in Western societies. Gosta Esping-Andersen, one of the foremost contributors to current debates on this issue, here provides a new analysis of the character and role of welfare states in the functioning of contemporary advanced Western societies. Esping-Andersen distinguishes three major types of welfare state, connecting these with variations in the historical development of different Western countries. He argues that current economic processes, such as those moving toward a postindustrial order, are shaped not by autonomous market forces but by the nature of states and state differences. Fully informed by comparative materials, this book will have great appeal to all those working on issues of economic development and postindustrialism. Its audience will include students of sociology, economics, and politics."

16,883 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson as discussed by the authors used estimates of potential European settler mortality as an instrument for institutional variation in former European colonies today, and they followed the lead of Curtin who compiled data on the death rates faced by European soldiers in various overseas postings.
Abstract: In Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson, henceforth AJR, (2001), we advanced the hypothesis that the mortality rates faced by Europeans in different parts of the world after 1500 affected their willingness to establish settlements and choice of colonization strategy. Places that were relatively healthy (for Europeans) were—when they fell under European control—more likely to receive better economic and political institutions. In contrast, places where European settlers were less likely to go were more likely to have “extractive” institutions imposed. We also posited that this early pattern of institutions has persisted over time and influences the extent and nature of institutions in the modern world. On this basis, we proposed using estimates of potential European settler mortality as an instrument for institutional variation in former European colonies today. Data on settlers themselves are unfortunately patchy—particularly because not many went to places they believed, with good reason, to be most unhealthy. We therefore followed the lead of Curtin (1989 and 1998) who compiled data on the death rates faced by European soldiers in various overseas postings. 1 Curtin’s data were based on pathbreaking data collection and statistical work initiated by the British military in the mid-nineteenth century. These data became part of the foundation of both contemporary thinking about public health (for soldiers and for civilians) and the life insurance industry (as actuaries and executives considered the

6,495 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article showed that ethnic diversity helps explain cross-country differences in public policies and other economic indicators in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that high ethnic fragmentation explains a significant part of most of these characteristics.
Abstract: Explaining cross-country differences in growth rates requires not only an understanding of the link between growth and public policies, but also an understanding of why countries choose different public policies. This paper shows that ethnic diversity helps explain cross-country differences in public policies and other economic indicators. In the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, economic growth is associated with low schooling, political instability, underdeveloped financial systems, distorted foreign exchange markets, high government deficits, and insufficient infrastructure. Africa's high ethnic fragmentation explains a significant part of most of these characteristics.

5,648 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors investigated empirically the determinants of the quality of governments in a large cross-section of countries and found that countries that are poor, close to the equator, ethnolinguistically heterogeneous, use French or socialist laws, or have high proportions of Catholics or Muslims exhibit inferior government performance.
Abstract: We investigate empirically the determinants of the quality of governments in a large cross-section of countries. We assess government performance using measures of government intervention, public sector efficiency, public good provision, size of government, and political freedom. We find that countries that are poor, close to the equator, ethnolinguistically heterogeneous, use French or socialist laws, or have high proportions of Catholics or Muslims exhibit inferior government performance. We also find that the larger governments tend to be the better performing ones. The importance of (reasonably) exogenous historical factors in explaining the variation in government performance across countries sheds light on the economic, political, and cultural theories of institutions.

5,555 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper found that trade has a quantitatively large and robust, though only moderately statistically significant, positive effect on income and that countries' geographic characteristics have important effects on trade, and are plausibly uncorrelated with other determinants of income.
Abstract: Examining the correlation between trade and income cannot identify the direction of causation between the two. Countries’ geographic characteristics, however, have important effects on trade, and are plausibly uncorrelated with other determinants of income. This paper therefore constructs measures of the geographic component of countries’ trade, and uses those measures to obtain instrumental variables estimates of the effect of trade on income. The results provide no evidence that ordinary least-squares estimates overstate the effects of trade. Further, they suggest that trade has a quantitatively large and robust, though only moderately statistically significant, positive effect on income. (JEL F43, 040)

5,537 citations