Seminar Series: Alberto Alesina Seminar on Political Economy

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and IQSS sponsor this seminar on formal and quantitative political research. The Alberto Alesina Seminar on Political Economy (PE) supports research-related activities that integrate the study of economics and politics, whether by studying economic behavior in the political process or political behavior in the marketplace. In general, positive political economy is concerned with showing how observed differences among institutions affect political and economic outcomes in various social, economic, and political systems and how the institutions themselves change and develop in response to individual and collective beliefs, preferences, and strategies. All interested faculty and students are invited to attend.

Note: All seminars are currently in a hybrid format, available to attend both in person and online via Zoom. Links for the Alesina Seminar are distributed via the seminar's mailing list. You can sign up for the list using the following link.

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Upcoming Talk

2022 Dec 01

Horacio Larreguy (Alesina Seminar)

4:30pm to 5:45pm


CGIS Knafel Building, room K354 or Online via Zoom

Today's Speaker

Horacio Larreguy (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, ITAM), "Accountability Under Polarization" (w/ José Ramón Enríquez, John Marshall, & Alberto Simpser)


Political polarization can undermine electoral accountability by distorting how citizens process objective information about incumbent government performance. We study how voting behavior is affected when nudging citizens in a polarized environment to incorporate information about government performance. In particular, we experimentally evaluate in 500 Mexican municipalities the electoral effects of a local NGO's Facebook ad campaign providing citizens with benchmarked information about COVID-19 cases and deaths in their municipality in the run-up to the 2021 elections. On its own, the information had a backfiring effect, increasing (reducing) the vote share received by the local incumbent party with relatively high (low) levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths. A randomly assigned anti-polarization treatment, however, reversed the backfiring: voters electorally rewarded (punished) incumbents with relatively low (high) levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The backfiring effect is driven by areas with high past vote share for the incumbent, higher shares of citizens with communal values, and behavior indicative of more-stressed citizens. Our findings demonstrate how biases in information processing can undermine electoral accountability in polarized contexts with high levels of mistrust and heightened emotions, and the potential for nudges to restore electoral accountability.

... Read more about Horacio Larreguy (Alesina Seminar)

Full Schedule

Fall 2022

  • September 8: Gemma Dipoppa, Brown University
  • September 15: Ro’ee Levy, Tel Aviv University
  • September 22: Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, University of Chicago 
  • September 29: Erik Snowberg, University of British Columbia 
  • October 6:  Réka Juhász, University of British Columbia
  • October 13: Jörg Spenkuch, Northwestern University
  • October 20: Bard Harstad, University of Oslo
  • October 27:  Jaya Wen, Harvard Business School
  • November 3: Eddy Malesky, Duke University 
  • November 10: Adam Bonica, Stanford University 
  • November 17: Allan Drazen, University of Maryland
  • December 1: Horacio Larreguy, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM)

About the Seminar

Alberto Alesina was a principal organizer of, and a central participant in, the Political Economy Seminar that has been a mainstay of scholarly activity in Political Economy at Harvard for thirty years. His untimely death shocked and saddened the Political Economy community here and around the world. The Political Economy Seminar that Alberto helped run continues to meet, although we miss his trenchant comments and constant good humor. The Seminar is now organized by faculty from the departments of Economics and Government, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard Business School, and attracts scholars from around Harvard as well as other area institutions.

In Alberto’s memory, we have named the seminar “The Alberto Alesina Seminar on Political Economy.” The Seminar continues to receive support from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. In addition, it has received a very generous contribution from Eni, an Italian energy company, in honor of Alberto’s life work. We are grateful to the support we have received, and continue to receive, from all these sources, as well as from the departments of Economics and Government.

Seminar Organizing Committee

Peter Buisseret 
Jeffry Frieden 
Vincent Pons
Pia Raffler 
Dani Rodrik 
James Snyder
Marco Tabellini
David Yang