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Title: Cultural Contagion and Populism: Evidence from Argentina

Abstract: This paper studies the transmission of political ideology between two countries. I study the diffusion of populism in Argentina in the period 1946-1955 through the Italian mass migration (1880-1950). I hypothesize that the populist (fascist) ideology of Mussolini spread in Argentina exploiting the sentiment of Italian identity abroad and lead to a rise of both the demand and supply for populist supporters and representatives in the host country. My analysis proceeds in three steps. First, focusing on the demand of populism I document that the historical presence of Italian immigrants is associated with a larger share of votes to the Peronist party. Second, focusing on the supply of populism I match Argentinian Members of Parliament's surnames with Italian migrants' surnames and find that MPs with ancestors migrated during the rise of Mussolini are more likely to be Peronist, while Italian ancestry in previous or later periods is not significantly associated with Peronist affiliation. Third, to investigate the mechanisms underlying these results I exploit machine learning techniques and the distribution of surnames in Italian municipalities to infer the migrants' province of origin and study the role of fascist propaganda and support.

Bio: Sara Lazzaroni is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Bologna working in the fields of development and political economics. She obtained a PhD in Economic Policy at the Catholic University of Milan where she conducted research on the effects of natural disasters (droughts, earthquakes, epidemics) at the macroeconomic level (on GDP) and microeconomic level (on households well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of household consumption and child health). As a research fellow at the University of Bologna she investigated the role of culture and institutions in shaping socio-economic outcomes (growth, tax evasion) in preindustrial Europe and present-day Italy. Her latest works in progress feature the application of machine learning techniques to study the cultural transmission of fascism through migrants from Italy to Argentina, and the study of the effects of health shocks and political scandals for discriminatory attitudes against minorities in US and France.