Nicola Fontana

Nicola Fontana

PhD Candidate in Economics

Department of Economics

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English, Italian
Key Expertise
Labor Economics, Political Economy, Urban Economics, Economic History

About me

Assistant Professor, Trinity College, Dublin

Research interests
Labor Economics, Political Economy (primary)
Urban Economics, Economic History (secondary)

Job market paper
Backlash against Airbnb: Evidence from London

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Anti-globalization sentiments have been on the rise in recent years. In urban contexts, these attitudes may take the form of backlash against tourism. In this paper, I examine the role of Airbnb, a major short-term rental platform, in explaining the rising discontent against tourists. To do so, I construct a rich and spatially disaggregated dataset to study the consequences of Airbnb penetration in London. First, I document that 1 additional Airbnb tourist per 1000 residents increases complaints against tourists by 2.2 per cent. Secondly, I explore the roots - pecuniary and non-pecuniary - of these reactions. I find that higher Airbnb penetration is associated with a decrease in neighbourhood quality, while the housing market is only marginally affected. These negative externalities can be explained by a lack of monitoring and coordination by hosts, which are key differences between short-term renting and traditional hotel accommodations. Finally, I provide evidence that the deterioration of neighbourhood quality markedly reduces social capital, as measured by the number of charitable organizations, and worsens attitudes towards globalization, leading to higher support for Brexit.

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Publications and additional papers

Completed Papers:

“Antitrust Policies and Profitability in Non-Tradable Sectors”, with Tim Besley and Nicola Limodio, Accepted at the American Economic Review: Insights, September 2020

Abstract: Firms in tradable sectors are more likely to be subject to external competition to limit market power while non-tradable firms are more dependent on domestic policies and institutions. This paper combines an antitrust index available for multiple countries with firm-level data from Orbis covering more than 10 million firms from 90 countries, covering 20 sectors over 10 years and finds that profit margins of firms operating in non-tradable sectors are significantly lower in countries with stronger antitrust policies compared to firms operating in tradable sectors. The results are robust to a wide variety of empirical specifications.

“Historical Roots of Political Extremism: The Effects of Nazi Occupation of Italy”, with Tommaso Nannicini and Guido Tabellini, July 2020

Abstract: We study the impact of the Italian civil war and Nazi occupation of Italy in 1943--45 on postwar political outcomes. The Communist Party, which was more active in the resistance movement, gained votes in areas where the Nazi occupation was both longer and harsher, mainly at the expense of centrist parties. This effect persists until the late 1980s. These results suggest that civil war and widespread political violence reshape political identities in favor of the political groups that emerge as winners. This benefits extremist groups and hurts moderates, since the former are more involved in violent conflict.


Research in progress:

“Emigration and Long-Run Economic Development: The Effects of the Italian Mass Migration”, with Marco Manacorda, Gianluca Russo and Marco Tabellini, September 2020  

Entrepreneurial skills: Learning by Renting, March 2019


Placement Officer
Professor Mark Schankerman

Dr Guy Michaels
Professor Tim Besley
Professor Guido Tabellini
Professor Stephen Machin

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Department of Economics,
London School of Economics and Political Science,
Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE