Davide M. Coluccia

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, Bocconi University

Working Papers

The Economic Effects of Immigration Restriction Policies: Evidence from the Italian Migration to the United States

with Lorenzo Spadavecchia, 2022 - Submitted

Idea. A restrictive immigration policy increases labor supply in the country sending migrants. This triggers incentive to decrease capital investment and switch to labor.


This article studies the impact of immigration restriction policies on technology adoption in countries sending migrants. From 1920 to 1921, the number of Italian immigrants to the United States dropped by 85% after Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, a severely restrictive immigration law. In a difference-in-differences setting, we exploit variation in exposure across Italian districts to this massive restriction against human mobility. Using novel individual-level data on Italian immigrants to the US and newly digitized historical censuses, we show that this policy substantially hampered technology adoption and capital investment. We interpret this as evidence of directed technical adoption: an increase in the labor supply dampens the incentive for firms to adopt labor-saving technologies. To validate this mechanism, we show that more exposed districts display a sizable increase in overall population and employment in manufacturing. We provide evidence that "missing migrants," whose migration was inhibited by the Act, drive this result.

Durable Goods and Monetary Policy in a Menu-Cost Economy


Idea. Frequency and dispersion of durable goods price changes are positively correlated. In an (S,s) model which replicates this fact durable goods increase the effectiveness of monetary policy.


This paper studies the distinctive pricing dynamics of durable goods and analyzes their implications for the conduct of monetary policy in a menu-cost economy. Using price microdata, I document the following new facts: (i) the dispersion of price changes in durables is higher than in nondurables; (ii) the frequency of price adjustment is countercyclical, however durable prices get relatively rigid in recessions; (iii) the dispersion of price changes is countercyclical for durables, and procyclical for nondurables. I develop a menu-cost model embedding durable consumption and calibrate it to match new and consolidated empirical evidence. I use the model to challenge the prevailing view holding that durable goods dampen the real effectiveness of monetary policy. I find that even though durable goods prices are relatively flexible, the model generates substantial monetary non-neutrality. Moreover, this paper puts forward a new channel whereby durable consumption can amplify the real effects of monetary policy. This result is driven by heterogeneous demand pass-through of aggregate shocks across sectors. Higher durable consumption enhances the sensitivity of nondurable output to interest rate shocks thus amplifying monetary non-neutrality.

Selected Work in Progress

Religiosity and Science: An Oxymoron? Evidence from the Spanish Flu

with Enrico Berkes, Gaia Dossi, and Mara P. Squicciarini, 2022

Idea. Religion and innovation are viewed as opposing forces. We exploit variation induced by the Influenza Pandemic to study their joint dynamics in the aftermath of a natural disaster.


We study the impact of the Spanish influenza pandemic (1918-20) on religiosity and science in the United States. Focusing on the period 1900-1930, we construct a novel indicator of revealed religiosity based on the naming patterns of newborn babies, and measure scientific progress through the universe of granted patents. Exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in exposure to the pandemic, we find that relatively more affected counties become both more religious and more innovative. Moreover, we document that the relationship between religiosity and science changed over time, being negative before 1918, and positive thereafter, a finding at odds with the current literature. We use individual-level data to shed light on the mechanisms. We show that in counties more affected by the pandemic: i) pre-existing differences in religiosity increased, leading to a polarization of religious beliefs; ii) individuals in science-related fields, who were less religious before the shock, became even less religious than the rest of the population.

Return Innovation: Evidence from the English Migration to the United States, 1850-1940

with Gaia Dossi, 2022

Idea. New evidence that innovation dynamics of countries sending migrants depend on where emigrants settle. Return migration is key, but information diffusion across borders is also crucial.

This paper studies how out-migration influences the production and direction of innovation in the country of origin of migrants. During the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1910) approximately 4 million English migrants settled in the United States. Using a novel dataset linking US and England individual-level census data, we construct bilateral migration flows between English districts and US counties over time. We complement these with English patent data we digitized from archival records, and a comprehensive dataset of historical US patents. We document a strong positive association between the field of innovation activity in US counties where English migrants settle, and that in their districts of origin. In ongoing work, we investigate the mechanism(s) behind this result. We speculate that migrants facilitate knowledge outflows between receiving and sending countries, thus potentially influencing long-run innovation dynamics.

Racial Discrimination and Innovation: Evidence from US Inventors, 1895-1925

with Sebastian Ottinger, 2022

This paper studies the impact of racial discrimination on innovation. We show that white inventors with black names are disproportionately less likely to invent using novel data linking US inventors to census records. To address endogeneity in naming patterns, we exploit variation in the names of black Americans lynched in 1895-1925. We conjecture that lynching pivot the racial content of names, which signals the race of inventors to patent examiners. In a difference-in-differences setting, we show that after someone with a given name is lynched, the number of patents issued to white inventors with that name sharply and persistently decreases. We interpret our findings as evidence of discrimination. Our results suggest that racial biases can spill over to non-discriminated groups, thereby amplifying their social cost.

Pre-Doctoral Research

On the effects of firing costs on employment and welfare in a duopoly market with entry

with Simone D'Alessandro and Nicola Meccheri (2017), in Fanti, L. (ed.), Oligopoly: theories and institutions, Pisa (IT): Pisa University Press.

© 2022 Davide M. Coluccia. Codes on Github.