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Top EU competition economist kicks off new seminar series organised by the Economics & Policy faculty subject group at Cambridge Judge.

Business economics

The Chief Competition Economist of the European Commission kicked off a new seminar series on Business Economics organised by the Economics & Policy faculty subject group at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Professor Tommaso Valletti, of Imperial College Business School and the University of Rome, discussed a paper he co-authored that looked at the effect of broadband Internet penetration on local UK government elections voter participation and local Council policies.

Specifically, the paper found that as the Internet has displaced other media (particularly local newspapers, but also national newspapers and broadcast) that had a richer local political content, voter turnout has decreased – and particularly among less-educated and younger people. Further, the study found evidence that local government spending and taxes are lower in areas with greater broadband penetration, and especially expenditures targeting less-educated voters.

The study concluded that efforts by government to reduce the “digital divide” by encouraging broadband reach in less-affluent or rural areas has also had the effect of increasing a “political divide” between groups, with an effect on local government turnout and policies.

“Our results seem to confirm the idea that the Internet acts as a distraction and seems to decrease civic engagement,” he told the 17 October seminar.

The EU’s Chief Competition Economist provides independent guidance on methodological and economic issues relating to the application of EU competition rules, and encourages economic debate involving other parts of the EU Commission and the academic world.

The Economics & Policy subject group at Cambridge Judge looks at issues such as economic growth, business performance, and how public policy can contribute to growth, sustainability and quality of life.

The new seminar series aims to stimulate debate on these issues, and is slated to include six talks per term from academics both inside and outside Cambridge. Upcoming sessions include Professor Michelle Sovinsky of the University of Mannheim, Dr Robert Ritz of the Energy Policy Research Group at the University of Cambridge, Dr Pasquale Schiraldi of the London School of Economics, Dr Julia Shvets of Christ’s College Cambridge, and Dr Ralf Martin of Imperial College Business School.

Dr Christos Genakos

Dr Christos Genakos

“It was a great honour to have the European Commission’s Chief Competition Economist giving the inaugural lecture in our seminar series. The seminar talks are designed to allow people from different specialities in economics and policy to present findings and novel viewpoints to the Cambridge Judge community and beyond,” says Dr Christos Genakos, University Senior Lecturer in Economics at Cambridge Judge, who helps organising the seminar series.