Current Projects

Felon re-enfranchisement, race, and law enforcement

This project studies the effect of felon re-enfranchisement on law enforcement using the staggered introduction of laws that re-enfranchise felons across U.S. states from 2000 to 2020. It documents two consistent patterns. First, re-enfranchisement of felons reduces total and drug arrest rates in states that have high shares of African Americans, and may moderately increase these rates in states with low shares of Blacks. Second, felon re-enfranchisement does not appear to mitigate racial disparities in law enforcement. With the exception of total arrest rates in states with high proportions of African Americans, re-enfranchisement did not reduce, and potentially increase, drug arrests of Blacks compared to non Blacks. Ancillary tests nonetheless stress the importance of racial factors. Re-enfranchisement of felons benefits African-Americans, but it also helps other racial groups.

The Nature, Dynamics, and Consequences of International Policies against Organised Crime. 

This project investigates the cooperation between governments in the fight against organised international crime. The goal is to codify, empirically explore and identify the potential channels that foster the spread of such anti-crime agreements-encompassing Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Traffic in Persons, Obscene Publications, Corruption, Terrorism and Nuclear Weapons, inter alia.

I am currently focusing on a subset of the UN anti-crime conventions, namely the agreements regulating the production, manufacture, trade and consumption of natural and synthetic drugs (i.e. opium, eroine, cannabis, cocaine, lsd and pharmaceutical drugs), in a sample of 140 countries, 1919-2015.  

Determinants of Cannabis Legalization in the USA

I am investigating the relationship between legalization of recreational drugs in US states and felony convictions, with a particular emphasis on the ethnic composition of the prison population.

Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain marijuana legalization: financial situation of the State, budget devoted to police, etc. I am planning to test whether these factors matter as well as to add some possible determinants of my own. I am particularly interested in the overall political environment and the role of affected special interests. I conjecture that States where felons cannot vote are less likely to legalize marijuana, especially when a significant part of those arrested for drug possessions happen to be African Americans. In other words, I am hypothesizing that marijuana prohibition is a form of disenfranchisement. My second novel conjecture is that the probability of legalization is inversely related to the number of prisoners in privately run prisons. Private prisons would be likely to lose directly from legalisation as they would receive less “customers’’ from the State.

Terrorism and Populism

I would like to understand whether terrorist attacks is one of the factors explaining the rise of populism in Europe. There are reasons in favour and against the hypothesis that terrorist events help populists. The cultural backlash hypothesis states that populists gained votes because of changes in the culture of society induced by the rights of women, sexual minorities, and, especially, ethnic minorities and immigrants. Indeed, immigration is often invoked by populists when they try to mobilize and convince voters. Populists play on the fear that Muslim immigration will change the national culture and provoke a clash of civilization. Terrorist attacks are seen as a confirmation of populists’ rhetorical warnings. Hence, the cultural backlash hypothesis predicts that terrorist events should increase support for populist parties. In contrast, the research on the effect of terrorist attacks on public opinion has shown no effect on public attitudes towards minority (if anything, the effect has been to increase tolerance). Hence, public opinion research suggests a null or (possibly) a negative effect of terrorism on populist support. The fact that we do not have clear predictions calls for a careful empirical analysis.

I plan to use quantitative analysis and a robust research design to approximate (as much as it is feasible) the causal effect of terrorist attacks on populist vote share in the European Union. I plan to look at the national level and (for France) at the local level. The analysis will also try to separate direct from spillover effects of terrorist attacks.