Valentina González-Rostani

Valentina González-Rostani

Ph.D. Candidate

University of Pittsburgh

I’m a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pittsburgh and an Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow (2023-2024). I will be a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, Princeton University (2024-2025). In Fall 2025, I will join the University of Southern California’s (USC) POIR Department as an Assistant Professor.

My main research interests lie at the intersection of international political economy and comparative politics. My dissertation explores the consequences of technological change on individual political behavior and the evolution of party systems. I study the interplay between economic, cultural, and institutional factors using a mixed-methods approach that combines quantitative analysis, text as data, survey experiment, and formal modeling. I am also interested in international trade, inequality, automation’s effects on climate policy, and political methodology.

Before coming to Pitt, I obtained a MA in Public Policies at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay and a BA in Public Accounting from Universidad de la Republica. I also taught at the Universidad de la Republica, worked at KPMG, and advised national politicians in Uruguay.

You can check out my ongoing research projects below, as well as some resources I’ve worked on here. Teaching experience and materials are available here.

Please feel free to contact me at: mag384 [at] pitt [dot] edu

Interests

  • Political Economy
  • Political Methodology
  • Comparative Politics

Education

  • PhD in Political Science, expected 2024

    University of Pittsburgh

  • MA in Political Science., 2021

    University of Pittsburgh

  • MA in Public Policies, 2019

    Universidad Católica del Uruguay

  • BA in Public Accounting, 2015

    Universidad de la República

Research

Dissertation

Elections, Right-wing Populism, and Political-Economic Polarization: The Role of Institutions and Political Outsiders. 2022. (Revised and Resubmitted at the Journal of Politics - JOP)

Abstract

While there is little doubt that technological change is generating labor market polarization around the world, we know much less about its translation into partisan polarization. I explore the political polarization driven by the rise of right-wing populist parties and leaders throughout developed democracies. I build a theoretical model to explain how right-wing populists have attracted the votes of routine workers, workers exposed to automation risk, and previously loyal to mainstream left-wing parties, within both majoritarian multi-district and multiparty proportional systems. I empirically evaluate the theory, focusing primarily on the US and Germany, using individual vote-switching data and campaign targeting strategies inferred from the content of political speeches and party manifestos.

 
Manuscript

 

The path from Automation to Populist Political Behavior. 2023. (presented at APSA 2022, IPES 2022, EUSA2023, EPSA 2023, PolMeth XL, APSA 2023, Virtual IPES 2024, Yale, and to be presented at Caltech)

Abstract

I investigate the impact of automation exposure on political behavior in post-industrial societies, with a specific focus on the support for populism. I examine the potential causal mechanisms by exploring the interplay between economic and cultural factors. Through a parallel encouragement design survey experiment conducted in the US, I divide the sample into two groups: one group is randomly assigned to the treatment condition either related to exposure to robots and AI replacing jobs or a control condition related to technological development; the other group experiences manipulation of both the treatment and the encouragement of mediators (marginalization and nostalgia). My findings reveal that feelings of marginalization and nostalgia mediate the effects of technological change on support for populism and illiberal policies. To enhance external validity, I implement mediation analysis using survey data from the European Social Survey from 2012 to 2016. The results help us understand how structural changes in labor markets and cultural factors impact political behavior and inequality.

 
Pre-Analysis Plan

 
Poster

 
Manuscript

 

Engaged Robots, and Disengaged Workers: Automation and Political Apathy. 2022. (presented at MPSA 2022, EUSA 2022, CPRG-Pitt 2023, R&R)

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on politics by proposing a theoretical framework linking technological change with political apathy. Using hierarchical logistic modeling with varying intercepts by country and survey data from the European Social Survey from 2002 to 2018 for 23 European countries, I present evidence that individuals more exposed to technological change are less likely to feel close to a political party, participate in elections and take part in protests. Those individuals exposed to automation are about 10% less likely to be politically engaged than those respondents without exposure to automation risks. I also demonstrate that income levels and unionization rates substantially moderate the direct link between automation and political engagement. The impact of automation on political engagement is smaller among wealthier citizens and in highly unionized environment. The political message from these interaction effects speaks about the reinforcing forces between economic inequality and automation and the role of collective organization. My findings have important implications for understanding automation politics, political inequality, and the demand (or lack of) for protection.

 
Manuscript

 

Who Influences Whom? Analyzing the Interplay of Mainstream and Outsider Parties in Social Media Campaigns. 2024

Abstract

Do mainstream parties respond to outsider parties, or vice versa? Previous research suggests an alignment between the issues prioritized by both mainstream and outsider parties, but definitive evidence on who influences whom is limited. I investigate this with fine-grained temporal analyses of YouTube videos posted by political parties in the year leading up to elections since 2015 in the UK and Spain. Using dictionaries, Wordscores, and transformer-based models, I classify the content by issues and communication characteristics, such as whether a message is populist or extreme. I then apply vector autoregression models to explore short-term dynamics of rhetorical influence. In the UK, a majoritarian system, mainstream right and left parties respond to each other, while the outsider right follows mainstream parties. In Spain, a multi-party system, mainstream parties influence each other, and outsider parties influence the mainstream left and each other. More importantly, in both systems, mainstream parties more often lead than follow outsiders' messages. These findings have important implications for understanding party dynamics and competition during electoral campaigns.

 

Publications

How Germane are Moral and Economic Policies to Ideology? Evidence from Latin American Legislators 2024. with Elias Chavarria, Chuang Chen, and Scott Morgenstern (Conditionally accepted at Legislative Studies Quarterly)

Abstract

Many legislators do not have consistently progressive or conservative policy positions. How does the mix of issue positions relate to the manner in which the legislators consider their placement on the left-right ideological scale? Analyzing data from the Parliamentary Elites in Latin America (PELA) survey, this paper counterposes combinations of legislators’ moral and economic policy positions with their self-located ideological score. Our results confirm the importance of economics, which is consistent with older studies, but we also find that moral issues are at least consistent with – and perhaps germane– to the left-right placement of many of the region’s legislators. Among the findings are that the left is more heterogeneous, especially with respect to moral views, than is the right. We also show that many centrists are closeted conservatives, supporting the “ashamed right” thesis.

 
Manuscript

 

Legislators’ Religiosity and Same-Sex Marriage in Latin America. 2023 with Scott Morgenstern (Latin American Research Review - LARR)

Abstract

Same-sex marriage (SSM) has risen to the top of political agendas across Latin America, but there is also great variance in terms of legal status, public support, and the policymaking processes. While the public and social movements have been critical to the advance of SSM, we know little about the views of those who are directly charged with translating public views into policy: the legislators. To fill this gap, we utilize a survey of the region’s legislators to first examine the range in support among countries and show how it correlates with legal changes. We then examine the correlates of legislators’ support for SSM. While we also test gender, age, and ideology, our multivariate models focus on religiosity. We show that in addition to driving support at the individual level (in the expected direction), religiosity also works as a contextual variable such that having more secular colleagues encourages pious legislators to support same-sex marriage.

 
Resumen

El matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo (MPMS) ha marcado la agenda política en muchos países de América Latina, aunque aún es ilegal en muchos países del continente. No obstante, el apoyo público varía mucho en la región, así como también los roles de los tribunales, presidentes y legislaturas. En este artículo nos enfocamos en los legisladores, ya que son los encargados de representar al público y convertir sus demandas en política pública. Si bien muchas legislaturas han discutido el tema, la literatura no ha examinado de manera intensiva las actitudes de estos representantes hacia el MPMS. Para analizar este fenómeno aplicamos un marco teórico que amplía las teorías basadas en el contexto y contacto social, y utilizamos una encuesta implementada a legisladores en la región para estudiar las variables que correlacionan con el apoyo al MPMS. Si bien también evaluamos variables a nivel individual (tales como género e ideología), nuestros modelos se enfocan en el rol contextual de la religiosidad. Los resultados muestran que tener más colegas seculares alienta a los legisladores, incluso a los creyentes, a apoyar el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo.

 
First View

 

Working papers

The Threat of Automation and Public Support for Environmental Policies. 2022. with Liam F. Beiser-McGrath and Michaël Aklin (presented at EPG 2022, Techno debates 2022, and EPSA 2023, Under Review)

Abstract

The rise of automation has transformed economies around the world. We examine how its effects spill over and affect people's views about environmental issues and policies. We argue that the long-term economic threat posed by automation is expected to reduce environmental concern amongst those affected due to a deprioritization of problems with high levels of uncertainty and that require deep reforms to be addressed. Therefore, we expect automation risk to subsequently reduce support of environmental policy that imposes immediate direct costs, such as carbon taxation. Meanwhile, support for policies with diffuse costs, such as environmental subsidies, will only be affected by automation indirectly, to the extent that it reduces individuals' general environmental concern. Using European Social Survey data from 2002 to 2018 for 23 European countries, our analysis reveals that individuals exposed to automation are less likely to hold environmental concerns and less supportive of carbon taxes that impose immediate visible costs. Mediation analysis suggests that automation reduces support for environmental policies through its negative effect on environmental concern, with this effect being larger for subsidies. Our findings have important implications for understanding how structural transformations in the economy shape individuals' preferences for tackling long-term societal problems like climate change.

 
Manuscript

 

Social Media vs. Surveys: A New Scalable Approach to Understanding Political Discourse. 2023. with Jose Luis Incio and Guillermo Lezama (APSA 2024, R&R)

Abstract

This paper explores how legislators use social media, specifically investigating whether their posts reflect the concerns stated by their legislative party peers in an anonymous survey. Utilizing data from Twitter, we compare legislators' social media posts with responses in PELA, a parliamentary elite survey in Latin America. We propose a novel, scalable method for analyzing political communications, employing OpenAI for topic identification in statements and BERTopic analysis to identify key political issues. This approach enables a thorough and detailed examination of these topics over time and across various political parties. Applying our method to statements from members of the Chilean Congress, we observe a general alignment between the preferences stated in surveys by elites and the prominence of issues on Twitter. This result validates Twitter as a tool for predicting politicians' preferences. Our methodological approach enhances our understanding of political communication and strategy, offering valuable tools for analyzing political rhetoric over time.

 
Manuscript

 

Immigration Shocks and Politicians’ Rhetoric: Evidence from The Venezuelan Migration Crisis. 2023. with Jose Luis Incio and Guillermo Lezama (presented at Universidad de Salamanca 2023, PUCP 2023, UCU 2023, APSA 2024)

Abstract

This paper examines how politicians respond to an unprecedented shock that dramatically alters the importance of a specific issue on their agendas. It focuses on the effects of the Venezuelan crisis, which has led to a significant influx of over 6.1 million immigrants into Latin American countries. Utilizing computational text-analysis methods such as Wordscores, unsupervised topic analysis, and OpenAI's API, applied to a corpus of over 3 million tweets from Chilean and Peruvian parliament members between 2013 and 2021, we identify statements about immigration, their stances (pro or anti-immigration), ideologies, and the framing used. We find that all party families increase the salience of the immigration issue without notable differences independent of the geographic exposure to the shock. Additionally, we find a positive causal link between the size of the immigrant population in the electoral district and the publication of pro-immigration statements on Twitter, primarily originating from left-wing politicians. However, we also document null effects of politicians' exposure to more immigrants in their districts on the number of tweets about immigration. Employing other NLP techniques, we explore and provide suggestive evidence that parties use distinct vocabularies aligned with their ideologies and emphasize different aspects when discussing immigration. This study contributes to understanding political behavior and communication strategies in the face of demographic changes, offering insights into how economic and social pressures influence policy discourse and public opinion formation in emerging economies.

 
Manuscript

 

A Spatiotemporal Approach to Model Multilevel Data Structures. 2023. with Jude C. Hays (presented at APSA 2023)

Abstract

The analysis of multilevel data is common in political science and the social sciences more generally. We examine the case where random community-level effects cluster geographically in space. Ignoring this spatial dependence leads to inefficient coefficient estimates and overconfident standard errors. We propose a two-step spatial feasible generalized least squares estimator that, under empirically identifiable conditions, provides relatively efficient coefficient estimates and accurate standard errors compared to the maximum likelihood estimation of non-spatial models.

 
Draft Upon Request

Please send me an email, and I will share our most recent working paper.

 

When France Sneezes, Does Europe Catch Cold? The Dynamics of Temporal and Spatial Diffusion of Political Protests. 2022. with Jeffrey Nonnemacher

Abstract

Are protests contained to their specific space and time or do they have the ability to spread across borders and in the future? This question has interested scholars of social movements and political behavior for decades but the literature provides a mixed picture on whether protests diffuse throughout time and space. Using protest event analysis and novel spatiotemporal autoregressive distributed lag (STADL) models designed to capture both temporal and spatial dependence in the same model, we find significant dependencies across both time and space. Protests in one time period shape the onset of protests in the future and protests in one country increase protests in a neighboring country. These results help us understand the dynamics of protest diffusion and have important implications for the study of political behavior and social movements.

 
Research Note Draft

 

Engaging Diversity: An Inclusive Approach to Undergraduate Mentorship in Mobilization and Political Economy with Chie Togami, Mariely Lopez-Santana, Tania Ramirez, Fernando Tormos-Aponte, and Mayra Velez-Serrano.

Abstract

The political science discipline faces significant disparities in the representation and participation of underrepresented minorities in graduate education. This lack of diversity among political scientists results in a narrower range of questions being explored within the field. Furthermore, the underrepresentation is particularly pronounced in the political methodology subfield, limiting the scope of tools and perspectives to those predominantly shaped by white scholars. This article proposes a template for teaching and mentoring undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds to enhance their opportunities in graduate programs. We examine the Mobilization and Political Economy program, a summer research initiative aimed at minority-serving institutions and underrepresented minorities, designed to equip participants with the tools to study social movements, political mobilization, and structural inequality.

 
Manuscript

 

Work in progress

You Can’t Stop It If You Can’t See It: Introducing a New Scalable System to Measure Populist Narratives at Higher Resolution. 2022. with Bree Bang-Jensen and Michael Colaresi (presented at ISA 2024)

Abstract

The rise of populism across democracies is one of the greatest challenges to the existing world order since World War II. Yet, we only have very limited tools to measure populism within and across countries. Existing approaches rely on human coding, expert surveys, or diction ary-based analysis and suffer from high costs, low comparability, or low validity. To help overcome these limitations, we offer a new middle ground strategy between the expensive but rich qualitative reading of populist language and the cheaper, but coarsest machine coding of sets of texts. We extend the Parsing Unstructured Language into Sentiment-Aspect Representations (PULSAR) project to identify specific sentences and paragraphs as carrying populist narratives. We parse ``us'' versus ``them'' frames, as well as who is determined by the speaker as protecting or threatening ``the people''. We also code common aspects of political speeches such as agreement, opposition, and judgment holder that are not populist-specific. Our system uniquely matches the ``thin-centered'' definition of populism, such that not all utterances from parties ascribed to a populist worldview will carry populist content. To illustrate our contribution, we train our model using recent US Presidential campaig n speeches. Our method has important implications for studying populism's rise worldwide, it’s common patterns and local distinctiveness, especially for countries where researchers cannot afford costly systems.

 

Love of Variety? Heterogeneous Responses to Foreign Goods in the Marketplace. 2022. with Jude C. Hays (presented at University of Strathclyde 2022, the Hamburg Empirical Political Science Seminar Series 2022, MPSA 2023, U Penn-Pitt Workshop 2023, APSA 2024)

Abstract

This study investigates the influence of exposure to trade, especially foreign goods, on policy preferences and political behavior. Utilizing a novel survey experiment, we exposed respondents to varying market conditions, simulating a realistic consumption experience with well-known brands. Our findings reveal that exposure to foreign brands intensifies hostility towards immigrants, protectionism, and support for Trump among nationalists, while having no impact on cosmopolitans. Our results demonstrate that consumption in an increasingly diversified marketplace can drive a bottom-up process of trade policy polarization. Our study has significant implications for understanding the contemporary political backlash against economic globalization and standard models of international trade based on the ``love of variety."

 
Pre-Analysis Plan

 
Slides

 

Campaign Contributions and Economic Inequality in the United States. 2022. with Jude C. Hays (presented at Vienna University 2022)

Abstract

Research on the political consequences of economic inequality focuses almost exclusively on relative inequality, using measures such as percentile ratios and gini coefficients for empirical analysis. Measures of relative inequality facilitate empirical comparison across space and time, but they do not always match theories that connect economic and political inequality. We demonstrate with a simple theoretical model that proportionate increases in income, gains that preserve levels of relative inequality in the population but increase levels of absolute inequality, generate greater inequality in campaign contributions from the poor and rich. Using data from U.S. Congressional Districts, we show empirically that greater levels of absolute inequality, rather than relative inequality, are in fact associated with larger differences in the rate at which rich and poor constituents make campaign contributions.

 

Inaugural Experience: Mobilization and Political Economy with Chie Togami, Mariely Lopez-Santana, Tania Ramirez, Fernando Tormos-Aponte, and Mayra Velez-Serrano.


Before being a PhD Student

Unevenly Distribution of Minimum Wage Effects Across Firms: Does Firms’ Size Matters? 2021. (presented at LASA 2021)

Abstract

Political economists have explored the implications of firm heterogeneity for trade politics, but existing studies do not explain how the effects of labor politics distribute across firms. This paper contributes by analyzing the impact of wage bargaining by firm size. It empirically tests theoretical expectations about the uneven distribution of effects by looking at a drastic change in labor market policies in Uruguay, where the government instituted coordinated wage bargaining and a minimum wage (MW) increase, causing a regulatory shock for all firms. However, small firms were more exposed to the MW increase than their large counterparts. Adopting a Fuzzy-DID approach, I demonstrate that small firms were less able to increase wages, faced higher formalization costs, and lost the most skilled workers. These findings have important implications for understanding wage bargaining politics and firm heterogeneity in developing countries, which I discuss.

 

Logros sindicales y relaciones de poder: el caso del SUNCA, Uruguay 2005 – 2014. 2017. (presented at XVI Jornadas de Investigación : la excepcionalidad uruguaya en debate: ¿como el Uruguay no hay?)

Abstract

Esta investigación analiza las transformaciones en las relaciones laborales y el sindicalismo en Uruguay en el periodo 2005 - 2014, a través del estudio del caso del Sindicato Único de la Construcción y Anexos. En primer lugar, se sistematizaron los logros sindicales vinculados a las condiciones de trabajo : libertad sindical, mejoras en la estabilidad laboral, cambios en la duración de la jornada, regulaciones de la cantidad y calidad del trabajo, mejoras en seguridad e higiene y avances en la no discriminación laboral. En segundo lugar, se obtuvo evidencia de que más del 66% del contenido de los acuerdos colectivos referían a aspectos no salariales. Por último, el factor organizativo fue identificado como clave para estas conquistas y se observó una revitalización sindical, a través de relaciones de colaboración entre actores, reformas internas, formas alternativas de participación solidarias y fortalecimiento institucional.

 
Article

 

Diffusion

La noche de la nostalgia (The night of nostalgia), October 12, 2023. Published at Razones y Personas (with Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License).

Todo robot es político! (Every robot is political!), June 16, 2022. Published at Razones y Personas (with Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License)

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