Ugo Troiano

Department of Economics
University of Michigan
611 Tappan Street, Lorch Hall 219
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Tel: 734/763-9561
Fax: 734/764-2769

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: PE , POL
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2015Broadening the State: Policy Responses to the Introduction of the Income Tax
with Mark Dincecco: w21373
We present new evidence about a mechanism – the broadening of the tax base – through which governments increase state capacity. Our difference-in-differences identification strategy exploits the staggered introduction of the income tax across twentieth-century US states. We find that tax broadening is associated with 1) a significant increase in total revenues and 2) a significant increase in total government expenditures, and in particular spending on public goods in education and health. We show suggestive evidence that political ideology affects policy responses to the broadening of the tax base.
June 2015Shaming Tax Delinquents: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in the United States
with Ricardo Perez-Truglia: w21264
Many federal and local governments rely on shaming penalties to achieve policy goals, but little is known about whether these penalties work as intended. Shaming penalties may be ineffective or may backfire by crowding-out intrinsic motivation. In this paper, we measure the effects of shaming penalties in the collection of tax delinquencies. We sent letters to 34,344 tax delinquents who owed half a billion dollars in three U.S. states. We randomized some of the information contained in the letter to vary the salience of financial and shaming penalties. We then measure how the salience of these penalties affected subsequent re-payment rates. We find that increasing the salience of financial and shaming penalties reduces tax delinquency. The effects of shaming penalties are only significant ...
May 2015Ghost-House Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti Tax Evasion Program
with Lorenzo Casaburi: w21185
The incentives of political agents to enforce tax collection are key determinants of the levels of compliance. We study the electoral response to the Ghost Buildings program, a nationwide anti-tax evasion policy in Italy that used innovative monitoring technologies to target buildings hidden from tax authorities. The program induced monetary and non-monetary benefits for non-evaders. A one standard deviation increase in town-level program intensity leads to a 4.8 percent increase in local incumbent reelection rates. In addition, these political returns are higher in areas with lower tax evasion tolerance and with higher efficiency of public good provision, implying complementarity among enforcement policies, the underlying tax culture, and the quality of the government.

Published: Lorenzo Casaburi & Ugo Troiano, 2016. "Ghost-House Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti–Tax Evasion Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 273-314. citation courtesy of

February 2015Old and Young Politicians
with Alberto F. Alesina, Traviss Cassidy: w20977
We evaluate the effect of a politician’s age on political governance, reelection rates,and policies using data on Italian local governments. Our results suggest that younger politicians are more likely to behave strategically in response to election incentives: they increase spending and obtain more transfers from higher levels of government in preelection years. We argue that is a sign of stronger career concerns incentives. The results are robust to adopting three different identification strategies: fixed-effects regression, standard regression discontinuity design, and an augmented regression discontinuity design that controls for residual heterogeneity.
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