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University of Southern California

1. Sobbrio, Francesco. Essays in political economics.

Degree: PhD, Economics, 2010, University of Southern California

Three essays compose the dissertation. The first essay entitled "Indirect Lobbying and Media Bias " analyzes amodel where voters have state-contingent preferences over policies and lobbies engage in in fluence activities to affect the information that a media outlet collects on the state of the world. The media outlet acts as a " filter" between lobbies and voters. It has to decide what to communicate to voters given the information it collects and its idiosyncratic bias. We show that, by targeting voters, lobbies are able to indirectly in fluence the political outcome and thus create a distortion in the political process. When the media outlet has a small idiosyncratic bias the (unique) equilibrium is characterized by a large level of lobbies ' in fluence activities and no "news-slanting " by the media outlet. When the media outlet 's idiosyncratic bias is large, the (unique) equilibrium involves a low level of lobbies' in luence activities and a high probability of "news-slanting" by the media outlet. Moreover, we show that a higher idiosyncratic bias of the media outlet may be associated with a lower policy distortion and a higher voters' welfare. On the other hand, public policy measures aimed at increasing the cost of lobbies' influence activities would decrease the distortion in the policy outcome and increase voters welfare. Finally, asymmetries in lobbies' influence activities lead to different probabilities of "news-slanting" by different media outlet 's types.; The second essay entitled " Electoral Participation and Communicative Voting in Europe " (joint with Pietro Navarra) provides an empirical investigation of electoral participation and communicative voting in 14 European countries. We estimate a multi-level voting process where individuals face a participation decision (whether to vote or abstain) and a voting decision (whether to vote strategically for a likely winner party or as communicating for a sure loser party). Our main findings can be summarized as follows. First, uninformed individuals and independent ones are less likely to turnout. However, being independent and uninformed does not have any statistically significant effect on electoral participation. Thus our results do not provide empirical support to the swing voter s curse theory. Second, expressive motivations have a positive and significant effect on electoral participation. Third, the probability of voting as communicating is positively related with the level of education and the degree of dissatisfaction with the political system. Fourth, right wing extremists have a significant lower probability of voting as communicating than moderate or left wing extremists. Finally, institutional features characterizing the functioning of the political system and of the media market have a significant effect both on the participation and on the voting decision.; The third essay entitled "Heterogeneous Preferences and Endogenous Acquisition of Costly information" investigates how individuals acquire costly information. We analyze a model of… Advisors/Committee Members: Carrillo, Juan D. (Committee Chair), Mattozzi, Andrea (Committee Member), Wilkie, Simon J. (Committee Member), Tan, Guofu (Committee Member), Wilburn, Kenneth (Committee Member).

Subjects/Keywords: voting; media bias; indirect lobbying; information acquisition

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APA (6th Edition):

Sobbrio, F. (2010). Essays in political economics. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Southern California. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Sobbrio, Francesco. “Essays in political economics.” 2010. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Southern California. Accessed October 20, 2020.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Sobbrio, Francesco. “Essays in political economics.” 2010. Web. 20 Oct 2020.


Sobbrio F. Essays in political economics. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Southern California; 2010. [cited 2020 Oct 20]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Sobbrio F. Essays in political economics. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Southern California; 2010. Available from: