Paolo Roberti 
postdoctoral research fellow

department of economics.
University of Bergamo.
Via dei Caniana 2, 24127 Bergamo
email: paolo.roberti[at]

Curriculum Vitae

Work in progress

Citizens or lobbies: who controls policy? (Revise and Resubmit to Games and Economic Behavior)
Paolo Roberti

This paper analyses a model of electoral competition with lobbying, where candidates hold private information about their willingness to pander to lobbies, if elected. 
  I show that this uncertainty induces risk-averse voters to choose candidates who implement policies biased in favor of the lobby. Increasing the prior probability of non-pandering candidates can increase the effect of lobbying. If, however, the cost of running for office is sufficiently large, there is no effect of lobbying on policy. The model thus demonstrates that uncertainty on the influence of special interests can lead to large effects of lobbying on policy. 

Populism and institutional capture (forthcoming in the European Journal of Political Economy)
Nicholas Chesterley, Paolo Roberti

This paper analyzes the relationship between populism and institutional capture. Populist politicians provide voters with a utility boom followed by a subsequent bust. Non-populists provide a constant level of utility. Once elected, however, politicians of both types are able to seize control of institutions to ensure their re-election. We show that in equilibrium, populist politicians may capture institutions to avoid being voted out of power during the bust: non-populists do not. Voters rationally elect a populist if voters discount the future sufficiently or if it is too costly for the populist to seize control of institutions. Unfortunately, both types of politician may prefer not to strengthen institutions, either to allow their capture or to discourage the election of the populist.

Separated under the same roof: political fragmentation and public policies

This work studies the effect of the political fragmentation in a ruling coalition on fiscal policies. A larger political fragmentation reduces the incentives of parties to tax their constituents, therefore decreasing total taxation. At the same time, in more fragmented coalitions parties free ride on future pooled costs to increase spending for their constituents, leading to a larger total deficit. Using data on Italian municipalities, the paper exploits the ballot order effect and the random allocation of parties on the ballot as instrument for political fragmentation. In a context where municipalities cannot run deficits, results show that a larger fragmentation reduces revenues and spending. Moreover, when the budget constraint is relaxed, the negative effect of political fragmentation disappears. 

The coherence of politicians and government debt (under revision)
Giorgio Bellettini, Paolo Roberti

We model a society that values the coherence between past policy platforms and current implemented policy. Policy platforms partially commit candidates to their future actions, because of the incoherence cost politicians pay when they renege on promised platforms. If an incumbent politician seeks to be reelected, she has to use her platforms to commit to moderate policies that could be distant from her most preferred one.  In this context, we suggest a novel mechanism by which issuing government debt can affect electoral results. Debt is exploited by an incumbent politician who favors low spending to  damage the credibility of her opponent's policy platforms and be reelected. A higher debt level decreases the voters' most preferred spending level and renders the opponent's past moderate platform a losing policy. Even if the latter chooses to update her proposal, she would not be able to credibly commit to it, given the incoherence cost associated to changing proposals. 

Research Interests

Political Economy
Public Economics
Development Economics