The key aim of the LOSS project is to unravel: How economic hardship affects support for socially conservative political agendas aimed at restricting the rights of marginalised groups (ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, migrants, LGBTQIA+ and women), and how local and national policy contexts affect this relationship. Many European societies have recently experienced growing prejudice towards marginalised groups and the rise in support for far-right parties advocating to restrict the rights of these groups. These developments threaten the cohesion of national and local communities across Europe. While aggregate level evidence suggests that financial crises generally coincide with increased support for far-right parties, we do not understand why this happens. By developing a groundbreaking interdisciplinary theoretical framework that integrates insights about the role of loss from political science, sociology, social psychology and behavioural economics, the LOSS project contends that experiences of economic hardship translate into specific narratives of loss that in turn trigger support for social conservative political agendas. To empirically examine the importance of narratives of loss, the LOSS project employs an innovative multi-method empirical approach combining qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. To uncover the role of context, the project compares five European countries (Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) that vary in the level of compensation provided for economic hardship, and local contexts within these countries.
In the context of a growing knowledge economy the competitiveness of global cities is crucially affected by their ability to nurture and attract talented workers. In this global race the European Union is lagging behind in comparison with the US and other Anglo-Saxon economies. The diffusion of anti-immigration sentiments is also worrisome because the recovery from the Great Recession of 2008 is far from being in sight for many EU regions while the access to a diverse set of skills via high skilled immigrants could boost the innovative sectors needed for economic growth. Therefore it is important to provide robust evidence on the economic effects of High Skilled Immigration (HSI) in order to justify policies for their attraction. GOTaM cities aims at understanding how talents are attracted to cities and how they impact on their innovative performance and prosperity. While building on existing literature the project will make several contributions by addressing some unexplored questions and empirical shortcomings: a. GOTaM will focus on HSI in different geographical contexts (i.e EU, US, China and Brazil): the existing evidence is biased towards the US which leaves a lack of understanding about HSI in other areas; b. It will use individual data and focus on city/region level effects: most empirical literature relies on aggregate data at country level; c. It will investigate the qualitative effects of migration: whether HIS enhances the technological and economic diversification of cities by bringing new knowledge to those places; d. It will build a unique comprehensive dataset (and related methodologies) on migrant inventors and scientists which will help the scholarly community and policy makers to carry out informed empirical analysis: the findings so far are disputed also because carried out on specific cases or ethnic groups (e.g. Russian mathematicians); The findings of GOTaM will serve as a basis for inspiring new and more effective immigration policies.
The focus of this project is to advance the theory of anisotropic geometric variational problems. A vast literature is devoted to the study of critical points of the area functional, referred to as minimal surfaces. However, minimizing the surface area is often an idealization in physics. In order to account for preferred inhomogeneous and directionally dependent configurations and to capture microstructures, more general anisotropic energies are often utilized in several important models. Relevant examples include crystal structures, capillarity problems, gravitational fields and homogenization problems. Motivated by these applications, anisotropic energies have attracted an increasing interest in the geometric analysis community. Moreover in differential geometry they lead to the study of Finsler manifolds. Unlike the rich theory for the area functional, very little is understood in the anisotropic setting, as many of the essential techniques do not remain valid. This project aims to develop the tools to prove existence, regularity and uniqueness properties of the critical points of anisotropic functionals, referred to as anisotropic minimal surfaces. In order to show their existence in general Riemannian manifolds, it will be crucial to generalize the min-max theory. This theory plays a crucial role in proving a number of conjectures in geometry and topology. In order to determine the regularity of anisotropic minimal surfaces, I will study the associated geometric nonlinear elliptic partial differential equations (PDEs). Finally, in addition to the stationary configurations, this research will shed light on geometric flows, through the analysis of the related parabolic PDEs. The new methods developed in this project will provide new insights and results even for the isotropic theory: in solving the size minimization problem, in the vectorial Allen-Cahn approximation of the general codimension Brakke flow, and in the Almgren-Pitts min-max construction.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many European countries to spend money that they do not have. This is creating unprecedented levels of debt and will inevitably lead to pressure for retrenchment in social welfare, with pensions seen as a key target. While some nations will seek to protect pensions, others will not. How will these pension reforms impact on healthy ageing? Will such reforms pension save money or perversely pass costs onto healthcare and other welfare systems? We propose an ambitious research programme to inform these critical questions. Our proposed research combines analysis of the Surveys on Health, Retirement and Ageing in Europe (SHARE) in 19 EU countries with specific quasi-natural experiment studies of pension reforms increasing pensionable ages (UK 1995 Pension Act and Italy 2011 Fornero Reform) and reducing pension payments (Netherlands 2013 Pension Reductions and Greece Katrougas Law 2016). Additionally the project will create innovative administrative-record linkages in Italian pension and health system data to quantify occupation-specific mortalities and unequal survival times. Overall, it builds on the PI’s strong track-record in evaluating health impacts of austerity and natural experiment research designs. The anticipated findings will test critical ideas about a ‘health-promoting pension system’ and about which occupational groups may merit additional compensation due to lower survival times. It will help inform critical policy debates by revealing the hidden and unanticipated health consequences of pension reforms and associated inequalities.
Encryption and authentication have long been the workhorse of secure systems, but with the shift towards a decentralized mode of data processing, contemporary cryptographic tools such as secure computation and homomorphic encryption are taking center stage. Unlike their “private-key” counterparts, for which efficient candidate instantiations abound, these “public-key” types of primitives rely on a remarkably narrow base of computational hardness assumptions. Developing and understanding new assumptions upon which such primitives can be based is a necessity; the Fine-Grained Cryptography project aims to do exactly that. Traditionally, cryptography has been based on problems for which there is a conjectured exponential complexity gap between the “easy” and “hard” directions; in contrast, we propose to investigate alternatives where the underlying gap is a sufficiently large polynomial. Practically speaking, fixed polynomial gaps should suffice for concrete security parameter instantiations. From a theoretical standpoint, they yield meaningful results even if P = NP -- a scenario in which most cryptography is (asymptotically) broken. While a rich “fine-grained” complexity theory of moderately hard problems has been developed in the past two decades, its consequences to cryptography remain relatively unexplored. Moderately hard problems abound, and many of them enjoy algebraic and combinatorial structure. This, combined with the existence of tools for average-case analysis, points to their promise as a new base for advanced cryptographic applications. Our initial focus will be on lower-level cryptographic primitives, such as one-way functions and public-key encryption. However, we expect our approach to also have direct impact on the feasibility and practical efficiency of higher-level cryptographic tasks, including advanced forms of encryption and even obfuscation.