My research agenda currently focuses on two main topics: the political consequences of technological change and the experiences and preferences of political elites.
"Automation versus openness: Support for policies to address job threats", R&R at the Journal of Public Policy 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 Is the extent to which women are underrepresented in politics rooted in historical institutions? If so, how can the long-lasting effects of historical legacies be overcome? We investigate the historical roots of the gender gap in political representation by focusing on two prototypical historical family types: nuclear vs. stem families. We hypothesize that stem families, which facilitated female labor force participation, also result in higher female political representation. We use municipal data from Spain during the democratic period (1977-2015). We find that at the beginning of the democratic period, municipalities where stem families prevailed elected more female councilors than municipalities where nuclear families were dominant. However, the differences between the two regions disappeared in the 1990s. Why? We document how feminist political entrepreneurs mobilized for the adoption of voluntary party quotas in the early democratic period and how these voluntary quotas resulted in significant increases in the share of women elected to office even in areas with traditionally conservative norms, and had spill-over effects on other parties. We also find that even though the gaps in the political representation of women across historically gender-conservative and progressive areas closed in Spain, the gap in gender attitudes and in labor market participation across areas persisted. To conclude, we discuss the implications of our findings for theories of cultural persistence and change. Draft available on request