Research Interests

  • International relations
  • Comparative politics
  • International and comparative political economy
  • American politics
  • Italian politics
  • Comparative tax policy and taxpayer behavior

Peer Reviewed Publications

Going Dutch? The Role of Gender in the Provision of Public Goods through Tax Compliance Forthcoming in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics

with David M. Bruner and Sven Steinmo

The existing experimental literature suggests women are more compliant than men when paying taxes but may free ride more when contributing to public goods. It is unclear which effect dominates when paying for public goods through taxation. Experiments conducted in three European countries and the U.S. are used to investigate this issue. The results suggest the compliance effect dominates the free riding effect such that women pay more for public goods, although men are more willing to contribute. Moreover, the data analysis reveals the gender gap in compliance is due to differences in both the extensive and intensive margins.



“Willing to Share? Tax Compliance and Gender in Europe and America.”  Research & Politics.

with Clara Volintiru and Sven Steinmo.

Studies examining the effects of gender on honesty, deceptive behavior, pro-sociality, and risk aversion, often find significant differences between men and women.  The present study contributes to the debate by exploiting one of the largest tax compliance experiments to date in a highly controlled environment conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Italy. Our expectation was that the differences between men and women’s behavior would correlate broadly with the degree of gender equality in each country.  In other words, where social, political and cultural gender equality is greater we expected behavioral differences between men and women to be smaller. In contrast, our evidence reveals that women are significantly more compliant than men in all countries. Furthermore, these patterns are quite consistent across countries in our study. In other words, the difference between men’s and women’s behavior is not significantly different in more gender neutral countries than in more traditional societies.

Full Text: Willing to Share

Divided Nation: The North-South Cleavage in Italian Tax Compliance in Polity. 2017. 42(1). 69-99.

 It is well known that tax compliance is low in Italy, and lower in the South than in the North. Many scholars have examined Italian taxpayer behavior, mainly using experiments and surveys. However, little attention has been given to the historical circumstances that have shaped divergent taxpayer behavior by Northern and Southern Italians. This article uses historical data from Italian unification through the Second Republic to assess the effects of Italy’s major formal institutions (the church, state, and political parties) and informal institutions (clientelism) on Italian tax behavior. It argues that nineteenth-century unification had significant repercussions on the two most important institutions in Italy—the Catholic Church and the state—and hence led to two different kinds of clientelism. Since Southern clientelism favored private interests and Northern clientelism led to the construction of public institutions, this created two different tax compliance environments.

Full Text – Divided Nation 

Are some countries more honest than others? Evidence from a tax compliance experiment in Sweden and Italy

with Giulia Andrighetto, Stefania Ottone, Ferruccio Ponzano, Nan Zhang, and Sven Steinmo in Frontiers in Psychology.

This study examines cultural differences in ordinary dishonesty between Italy and Sweden, two countries with different reputations for trustworthiness and probity. Exploiting a set of cross-cultural tax compliance experiments, we find that the average level of tax evasion (as a measure of ordinary dishonesty) does not differ significantly between Swedes and Italians. However, we also uncover differences in national “styles” of dishonesty. Specifically, while Swedes are more likely to be either completely honest or completely dishonest in their fiscal declarations, Italians are more prone to fudging (i.e. cheating by a small amount). We discuss the implications of these findings for the evolution and enforcement of honesty norms.

Full text-Are_Some_Countries_More_Honest_than_Others

“Hegemony or Dominance: A Gramscian Analysis of US Ascendancy.”  in Critique: A Worldwide Journal of Politics.

Hegemony, for Antonio Gramsci, is the use of consent and coercion in order to establish control over a population or a state. It is this balance between the two that is fundamental to Gramsci’s theory. Furthermore, the distinction between two types of intellectuals, traditional and organic, is central to the diffusion of elite ideology and obtaining the consent of the masses. First, this study surveys the various Gramscian and neo-Gramscian literature, which develops the background for my central argument. The following section briefly examines the construction of a “common sense” in America focusing on two fundamental aspects: American exceptionalism and Liberalism. Finally, my study takes a critical look at American policy during the Regan Administration, specifically focusing on Ronald Reagan’s ability to assume the role as an intellectual, used in the Gramscian tradition. However, I argue, although Ronald Reagan recaptured the common sense of the American people, manipulation and coercion were instrumental in reestablishing American dominance. Thus, power during the Reagan administration lacked a critical element of hegemony, consent, and can no longer be defined as hegemony in the Gramscian sense.

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Under Review

More Bang for Your Buck: Efficiency, Trust, and Tax Compliance 

In the present study, we investigate the relationship between fiscal capacity and tax compliance using the largest tax compliance experiment to date. We argue that tax evasion and compliance are the product of either high-efficiency/high-trust equilibria or a low-efficiency/low-trust equilibria specific to individual countries. To test this, we utilize the experiments conducted in Italy, U.S., U.K., and Sweden. In the first test, we performed a simple public goods game framed within a tax context to uncover that increasing efficiency does indeed increase tax compliance. In a second experiment, we ask participants to actually pay taxes to their national government, pension fund, and fire department. Confirming our prediction, individuals are significantly more likely to pay taxes to institutions that they trust than institutions that they dislike.

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What Explains the North-South Gap in Italian Tax Compliance?  An Experimental Analysis. 

Cross-national social surveys account for tax morale across a wide variety of political cultures. Since tax evasion, by definition, is difficult to estimate, researchers use the size of the underground economy as a core indicator. Only Greece (27.5% of GDP) surpasses Italy (17% of GDP) in the size of its underground economy among Western EU states. Italy’s unique history and regional complexity provide researchers with a multitude of case study options in a single country. Using the 2004 Bank of Italy Survey of Household Wealth and Income and controlled tax compliance experiments, I undertake a comparative study assessing the regional effects of social capital and political culture on tax morale in Italy. I demonstrate that Southern Italy is substantively and significantly different than Northern Italy with regards to tax morale, and that social capital and civic culture positively affect tax morale. However, I find no difference when we control the institutional environment in our laboratory setting, suggesting that tax compliance is linked to the institutional environment with which an individual associates.

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Working Papers

Mass Preferences on Budget Deficits 

Budgets are one of the most important tools politicians have at their disposal. They set out the expected amount of revenue to be collected for the following scal year, as well as the amount of spending. The budget is also a fundamental political tool used to signal to constituents where the government’s priorities lie. But government budgets are notstraight forward, parsimonious documents. The are complicated documents with important implications and trade-os. However, the public is rarely presented with the trade-offs that governments must make in order to successfully implement a budget. Governments make trade-os between higher (lower) taxes and more (less) spending or they face larger deficits. This article uses a novel survey experiment, incorporating an interactive budget tool, to examine what drives individual preferences for budget deficits.

Survey Questionnaire and Table of Descriptive Statistics with weighted sample