Yotam Margalit - (ZOOM ONLY) The Political Consequences of Green Policies: Evidence from Italy


Governments world-wide increasingly recognize the need for adopting green policies. Yet these often entail substantial transition costs with highly uneven distributive implications, risking potential backlash from voters. Does the introduction of green policies affect how people vote? We study this question by exploiting the introduction in 2018 of a traffic ban on polluting cars in the city of Milan. We investigate the link between the policy’s distributional impact, residents’ voting behavior and their environmental attitudes. Using a set of inferential strategies, we show that car owners who were economically harmed by the policy (median cost €3,750) were around 13.5 points likelier to vote for the populist right-wing Lega party in the first election after the policy was introduced. Lega portrayed the traffic ban as a “radical-chic left” initiative that penalizes the common people. We find no evidence of a parallel shift toward environmental skepticism in attitudes or behavior. The electoral shifts are accounted for by the economic losses imposed on car owners; recipients of compensation from the municipality to offset the policy’s cost were not more likely to switch to Lega. The results highlight the crucial importance of the distribution of the costs for advancing politically sustainable green policies.


Yotam Margalit specializes in the fields of international and comparative political economy. Before joining Tel Aviv University he was a faculty member at Columbia University.

Much of his research deals with the political consequences of globalization, particularly immigration and international trade. He also studies the sources of individual preferences on economic policy and the way changing personal circumstances shapes political views. A more recent strand of research deals with the political repercussions of economic crises.

Yotam's work has appeared in publications such as the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, and the Journal of Economic Perspectives. His research has been funded by fellowships and awards from the Mellon Foundation, the Sawyer Foundation, the Program of Global Justice at Stanford University, the Israel Science Foundation, The Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISERP), the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at Columbia University, and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs.

Yotam is also a non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Governance and Economics at the Israel Democracy Institute. There he heads the Program on Labor Market Reforms, focusing on issues such as portability of social benefits between jobs, evaluation of worker retraining programs, flexible employment arrangements and labor force participation of older adults (50+).

Prior to his academic career, he worked in management consulting in London, UK, and was an executive of an international enterprise software firm in San Francisco, CA. He graduated with honors from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, receiving his B.A. in Economics and History. He received his PhD in 2009 from Stanford University.