Mapping the Italian Geography of Hate. Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between hate manifestations and socio-economic, cultural and geographic characteristics of the 611 Italian Local Labor Market Areas. This issue appears relevant from many perspectives, starting from the fact that hate manifestations have been increasing in their count in recent years. Following the growing prominence of hate proliferation, many States are legislating to counter this phenomenon; alongside legal standpoint, the diffusion of hate manifestations impacts heavily society: reducing freedom perception for hatred targets, propagating negative stereotypes and discriminative behaviors, increasing the cost of correct information and boosting populism. Moreover, in Europe hate manifestations are deeply intertwined with refugees and migrants issues. Indeed, despite increasing general concern on the hatred phenomenon and mounting research attention to topics that are close-but-different from hatred -like the determinants of populism and the relationship between immigrants and voting- fewer efforts have thus far been devoted to investigating the relationship between hate manifestations and the geography of places. Thus, it appears of some interest analyzing the following research question: albeit that hate speech narratives pivot on social minorities, it has still to be assessed how much of them is actually determined by tensions in interactions with resident minorities and/or with refugees-hosting-structures, rather than by other spatial elements. This research addresses this issue, building a novel and unique database that collects offline geo-referenced hate manifestations in Italy. Estimating a hurdle model with regional fixed effect, we first assess which local conditions predict the occurrence of a hate manifestation and then which features influence the expected frequency of hate manifestations. Findings highlights that the allocation of refugees’ hosting structures is a robust predictor of both the occurrence of hate events and of their expected frequency. At the same time, foreign resident population does not display any significant empirical association with hatred. Results hold also after several robustness check exercises. These findings may relate to current literature assessing refugees’ allocation as exogenous or quasi-exogenous shock (Borjas and Monras, 2017). Besides migration-related features, expected occurrence of hatred is positively associated to relevant confounding: social stress, self-interest by affluent people, community size and populist parties, but negatively associated to the level of trust and to ease of interaction. Expected frequency of hate events is positively predicted by community size, the presence of a geographical hub, moderate and populist parties, whereas ease of interaction exert a countering effect. Our results appear consistent with established socio-economic literature on hatred (Medina et al., 2018; Gerstenfeld, 2017; Glaeser, 2005; Jefferson and Pryor, 1999) and can be also related both to recent works on populism (Guiso et al, 2017) and to the literature on voting behavior and migrants (i.a.Halla et al., 2017; Barone et al., 2016; Dustmann et al., 2016). Finally, the set of situational factors identified as meaningful predictor for expected frequency of hatred is smaller and partly different than the set of factors that influence hate occurrence: once the “hurdle” of experiencing at least one hate manifestation is crossed, fewer conditions are at work to fuel further hate events in the same place.

Alberto Alesina A., Benedetta Brioschi B. and La Ferrara E. (2016), Violence Against Women: A Cross-cultural Analysis for Africa. NBER Working Paper 21901

Anderberg D., Rainer H. Wadsworth J. and Wilson T. (2016) Unemployment and Domestic Violence: Theory and Evidence, The Economic Journal

Assimakopoulos S., Baider F. and Millar S. (2017). Hate Speech in the European Union: A Discourse- Analytic Perspective. SpringerBriefs

Bansak K., Hainmueller J. and Hangartner D. (2016). How Economic, Humanitarian and Religious Concerns Shape European Attituted Towards Asylum Seekers, Science

Becker S.O., Fetzer T and Novt (2017), Who voted for Brexit? A Comprehensive District-level AnalysisEconomic Policy 32 (92)

Bratti M., Deiana C., Havari E., Mazzarella G.  and Meroni E. C. (2017). “What are You Voting for? Proximity to Refugee Reception Centers and Voting in the 2016 Italian Constitutional Referendum” European Commission seminar series

Colussi T., Isphording, Ingo E., and Pestel M. (2017). “Minority Salience and Political Extremism”. IZA discussion paper 10417

Crescenzi R., Di Cataldo M. and Faggian A. (2018). Internationalized at work and localistic at home: The ‘split’ Europeanization behind Brexit. Papers in Regional Science97 (1)

Dustmann C., Vasiljeva K., and Piil Damm A. (2016). “Refugee Migration and Electoral Outcomes”. Discussion Paper Series, CDP 19

EU-Fundamental Right Agency (2014). Violence against women: an EU-wide survey. Main results

Gagliardone I., Gal D., Alves T. and Martinez G. (2015), Countering Online Hate Speech. UNESCO series on Internet Freedom

Garcia E. and Merlo J. (2016). Intimate partner violence against women and the Nordic paradox, Social Science and Medicine, 157

Gautier P.A., Siegmann A. and A. Van Vuuren (2009). Terrorism ad Attitude towards Minorities: the Effect of the Theo-Van Gogh murder on Houses Prices.Journal of Urban Economics 65 (2)

Gerstenfeld P.B. (2017). Hate Crimes. Causes, Controls and Controversies (4th Edition). SAGE

Glaeser E. (2005). “The Political Economy of Hatred.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, pp. 45-86

Guiso L., Herrera H, Morelli M. and Sonno T. (2017). “Populism: Demand and Supply”. IGIER Bocconi Working Paper Series n.610

Halla M., Wagner A.F. and Zweimuller J. (2017). “Immigration and Voting for the Far Right”. Journal of the European Economic Association, 15(6), pp.1341-1385

Hangartner, D. and Dinas E. Marbach M. and Matakos K. and Xefteris D. (2018), Does Exposure to the Refugee Crisis Make Natives More Hostile? American Political Science Reviewforthcoming

Jefferson and Pryor (1999). “On the Geography of Hate”. Economic Letters, 65(5), pp. 389-395

Medina R. M, Nicolosi E., Brewer S. and Linke A.M. (2018).  Geographies of Organized Hate in America: A Regional Analysis, Annals of the American Association Geographers, 108:4, 1006-1021

OSCE-ODIHR (2017). Hate Crime Report, 2017

Pew Research Center (2018) Being Christian in Western Europe

PRISMPROJECT (2015) Hate Crime and Hate Speech in Europe: Comprehensive Analysis of International Law Principles, EU-wide Study and National Assessments. http://www.prismproject.eu

Rodríguez-Pose, A (2018). The revenge of the places that don’t matter (and what to do about it)”, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 11(1)

Rodrik, D. (2018) Populism and the Economics of Globalization. Journal of International Business Policy

Southern Poverty Law Center (2018). Hate Map. https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map

Spicer J.S. (2018). Electoral Systems, Regional Resentment and the Surprising Success of Anglo-American Populism. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 11(1)

The New York Times (2017). In Canada, Where Muslims Are Few, Group Stirs Fear of Islamists https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/world/canada/la-meute-muslims-quebec.html

US Federal Bureau of Investigation (2018). Hate Crimes Statistics

Zimbardo P. (2004). “A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil: Understanding how good people are transformed into perpetrators.” in Arthur Miller (Ed.). The social psychology of good and evil: Understanding our capacity for kindness and cruelty.New York: Guilford


[1]i.a.European Commission Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech; EU High Level Group on Countering Hate Events; European Union Agency for Fundamental Right: Violence Against Women an EU-Wide Survey; European Commission (http://www.enar-eu.orghttp://eige.europa.eu; OSCE Hate Crime Report (http://hatecrime.osce.org); United Nation Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5