My research agenda currently focuses on two main topics: the political consequences of technological change and the experiences and preferences of political elites.
"The Politics of Automation", invited at the Annual Review of Political Science With Thomas Kurer Technological change is one of the main drivers of labor market transformations and a fundamental force shaping income inequality. While concerns about massive technological unemployment have been historically misplaced, a vibrant literature in economics is currently debating if recent technological developments in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence will this time cause such rapid workplace upheaval that workers and labor market will fail to adapt by acquiring needed skills and creating new jobs at sufficient speed. Any large labor market transformation is likely to have political implications if affected workers use non-market mechanisms to demand government protection and to channel unrest. In spite of the obvious importance of this topic, political science research has paid very little attention to the political implications of technological change. We provide an overview of the current debate in economics, discuss the main measure of technological change used in empirical research, and review recent work in political science about how technological change affects political attitudes, populism, and vote choice. We also discuss how the covid-19 pandemic is likely to affect technology adoption. One of the most striking conclusions of this literature is that the introduction of the same technologies has different distributive and political consequences in different countries. We speculate that this is possibly due to how labor market and social policies attenuate negative impacts of technological change. To conclude, we present a list of pressing research questions.
"Automation versus openness: Support for policies to address job threats", under review With Alex Kuo, Pepe Fernández Albertos and Dulce Manzano Does the threat of automation to workers' employment provoke distinct policy preferences from the threat of globalization? Despite a burgeoning set of studies of consequences of rapid automation in the workplace, there remain few studies that directly compare the impact of these structural threats on public policy preferences. We present hypotheses about how these different threats affect support for policies to prevent such shocks as well as policies to compensate via redistribution, with a focus on policies that address the most affected workers. Using a vignette experiment and a conjoint experiment embedded in survey evidence from Spain, we find that the threat of automation does not provoke any greater demand for redistribution than does openness. We do observe, however, an important difference: while the threat of offshoring does cause greater support for policies designed to prevent this process from happening, scenarios of robot substitution do not provoke a similar reaction Draft available on request
Political elites "How do the Educated Govern?: Evidence from Spanish Municipalities", forthcoming in Unequal Democracies (Eds. Noam Lupu and Jonas Pontusson) With Marta Curto Highly educated citizens are dramatically over-represented among politicians. Is this bias desirable, troubling or irrelevant? Recent studies argue that highly educated politicians perform better in office, but others find no effects. We advance a third possibility which is that education affects the preferences and beliefs of politicians, and leads them to pursue different goals and fiscal policies. Our empirical analysis is based on a novel dataset with information about the education, age and gender of elected local politicians in Spain and detailed economic and fiscal data collected between 2003 and 2011. Applying a Regression Discontinuity design, we find that when parties with more educated politicians win the election, municipalities have higher unemployment rates and do not perform better in other respects. Further analyses reveal that educated politicians are more fiscally conservative, spend less in capital investment, and prioritize different spending areas. Our results are consistent with the interpretation that more educated politicians are more fiscally conservative rather than with the claim that education is a proxy of quality. To conclude, we discuss how the elitism in the educational composition of governments can undermine political representation. Draft available on request
"Citizens-Politicians interactions and dynamic representation: Evidence from Twitter", R&R at the American Journal of Political Science Barcelona GSE Working Paper Series, no. 1238. With Nikolas Schöll and Gaël Le Mens We study how politicians learn about public opinion through their regular interactions with citizens and how they respond to perceived changes. We model this process within a reinforcement learning framework: politicians talk about different policy issues, listen to feedback, and increase attention to better received issues. Because politicians are exposed to different feedback depending on their social identities, being responsive leads to divergence in issue attention over time. We apply these ideas to study the rise of gender issues. We collected 1.5 million tweets written by Spanish MPs, classified them using a deep learning algorithm, and measured feedback using retweets and likes. We nd that politicians are responsive to feedback and that female politicians receive relatively more positive feedback for writing on gender issues. An analysis of mechanisms sheds light on why this happens. In the conclusion, we discuss how reinforcement learning can create unequal responsiveness, misperceptions, and polarization. Draft available on request
Family structure and women political representation: From historical legacies to rapid change With Dídac Queralt and Ana Tur-Prats Presentation available on request