Fall 2013 are made available on this webpage. Links to pdf images of the posters are available by clicking on the project title. Posters are sorted by approximate sub-field.
Political scientists have thoroughly examined the relationship between labor income and social insurance, but the role of wealth in shaping attitudes towards social insurance has largely been ignored. This paper begins to address the question of how wealth, and more specifically assets, play a role in predicting individuals' attitudes towards social insurance provision. I theorize that individuals use assets such as housing as a form of private insurance, the possession of which makes asset-holders less favorably inclined towards public insurance provision. The paper operationalizes preferences towards social insurance using survey respondents' attitudes towards the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), one of the most prominent recent pieces of social insurance legislation in the United States. I examine statewide house prices to explore the effect that asset prices have on attitudes towards the ACA. I find that homeowners and renters do indeed have different preferences over the ACA; being a renter is positively associated with support for the ACA, while home ownership presents a more ambiguous relationship.
Immigration enforcement, and deportation in particular, has been shown to have social and psychological effects on the non-deported as well. I use the staggered implementation of the federal Secure Communities program to estimate the effect of stricter immigration enforcement on Latino voter turnout. A difference-in-differences analysis indicates that enrollment in Secure Communities led to an increase in county-level Latino voter turnout of two to three percentage points. This relatively large effect may be due to greater Latino activism in the wake of program implementation, or to individuals responding to particular police interactions. These results extend the existing literature on policy feedbacks, demonstrate that policies can have far-reaching and unexpected political implications, and suggest that the current immigration debate may have major consequences for the future makeup of the American electorate.
Shauna Shames The Positive Feedback Loop of High Political Ambition
This project investigates the differences in perspectives, experiences, and expectations of high- versus low-politically-ambitious graduate students in law and policy schools. What makes some people want to run for office while others run for the hills? This project suggests that political ambition and positive experiences with and expectations about politics are a feedback loop.
David Romney America in the Eyes of Arabic Tweeters
I connect literature on the political economy of clientelism with research on dominant party regimes to argue that rural economic development, arising from the green revolution, brought about an end to dominant party rule in India.
In modern American society we know that social networks matter. How these networks matter is another story. The development of social capital has been linked to positive economic growth, however, the relationship between social capital and income inequality remains unclear. Over the past several decades, not only has the U.S. seen a major decline in social capital, but it has also reached unprecedented levels of economic inequality. Proponents for the renewal of social capital argue that informal networks, particularly those beyond the individual's immediate relations, extend opportunities and provide a connection between jobs and the unemployed. Critics, however, suggest that access to these networks is predetermined by socioeconomic status. Arguably, all positive benefit s from these connections ultimately deepen these class divisions. Do social networks provide a means for access to jobs? Or do they stratify society into the haves and the have-nots? Until now, answering these questions was severely inhibited by the lack of data that spanned both time and space. Using a new measure of social capital, which accounts for this fundamental cross-temporal and cross-spatial variation, this study deciphers the intricate relationship between social capital and economic inequality across the U.S. states.
The literature on public goods in poor (and especially African) countries frequently points to ethnic heterogeneity as the cause of low public goods provision. While it is true that African countries do tend to fit the expected pattern (high heterogeneity, low public goods), the causal mechanism is unclear. One prominent theory holds that, in situations of high ethnic heterogeneity, tax payers prefer to pay less into the communal pool and to self-provision instead. Using a new and detailed dataset of sub-national tax revenues from Benin (2003-2010), this study tests for a correlation between ethnic heterogeneity and local revenue per capita. No relationship is found. Rather, tax revenues tend to be highest where the conditions for state-building are most propitious: i.e., population density is high and the local economy is relatively strong. It is argued that variation in tax capacity therefore offers a better explanation of local government revenues than does the degree of ethnic heterogeneity. But tax revenues may not matter much for public goods provision in poor countries, where - as is shown for the case of Benin - government revenues are quite low. It is argued that, due to reasons of vast differences in tax capacity, the logic of public goods provision in rich and poor countries is not similar, and that these cases are therefore not suitable for comparison.
Jonathan Phillips Information and Accountability for Public Services in Ghana
A transition from clientelist to accountable politics is at the core of aspirations for democratic progress and equitable development in developing countries. Information has been argued to catalyze the accountability model, but the evidence remains contested. The field experiment in Ghana analyzed in this paper sought to prompt accountability by disseminating credible information about public services through radio discussion programs. The methodology includes one of the first panel surveys of African voters, demonstrating both the feasibility and challenges of repeated measurement in the African context. The findings indicate that the specific content of information is crucial; voters' processing of information is highly specific to the existing informational and political context. Moreover, despite the many conditions linking information to political behaviour, these may be easier to satisfy than the existing literature suggests. The project is also a demonstration that despite extensive challenges to the experimental design and precise inference, much can be learned from imperfect experiments.
How do historic legacies shape political preferences? What explains the persistence and change of group identities over time? Although the literature on ethnic diversity has a long pedigree, the long-term implications of interethnic competition remain understudied. The paper demonstrates empirically that history of antisemitism accounts for the baseline levels of receptiveness of the population in some parts of Poland to right-wing nationalist rhetoric and posits the mechanisms through which distant past continues to shape contemporary political outcomes. I argue that the focus on identity in domestic political debates and lack of experience with the market economy contributed to the prevalence of identity-based evaluations in the 2003 EU referendum. Survey data is used to show that antisemitism predicts respondents' fear that EU integration will lead to the loss of national identity and culture and to the loss of Polish national power. I also demonstrate that the level of opposition to EU integration at the county-level is positively associated with the share of the Jewish population on the eve of WWII. While the Jewish population was virtually eliminated in the Holocaust, anti-Semitic attitudes formed by centuries of uneasy coexistence continue to affect political preferences today.
Voters in advanced democracies are relatively politically and economically-uninformed, and this can have large effects on political outcomes. Despite growing efforts, how voters process politically-relevant information and how it translates into political behavior is not yet precisely understood. Combining a survey experiment in Denmark with a panel survey and detailed respondent histories, we examine how unemployment projection information from different sources and government policy information primes affect voter national unemployment rate expectations for the coming year. We first assess how pre-treatment characteristics affect posterior beliefs by affecting an individual's prior beliefs and how they update in response to different types and sources of information, before looking at how and when beliefs about unemployment affect economic voting and preferences for redistribution and unemployment insurance. Preliminary results indicate that initial characteristics condition how individuals change their unemployment expectations in response to new information, and---supporting economic voting channels---this has an important effect on support for the incumbent governing coalition.
Do institutional legacies survive episodes of great political upheaval? Do legacies withstand creeping erosion over long stretches of political calm? To shed new light on these fundamental questions about institutional change, my article investigates the organization at the heart of China's resilient regime, namely the Communist Party, focusing on the historical determinants of the party's regionally uneven power base. As it turns out, legacies from the pre-1949 era in particular the formative period of Japanese occupation, continue to shape regional patterns of party membership and help to explain why some provinces have become Chinese equivalents of red states and others blue states. For the empirical analysis of slow-moving change after 1949, this paper builds on economic approaches, formulates a party growth model and estimates the rate of convergence in party membership, away from initial historical patterns. The empirical analysis is possible thanks to a newly available set of internal party statistics. Depending on the specification, the half-life of history is 60 to 90 years: It takes that long for the effect of Japanese occupation on contemporary party membership patterns to be cut in half. This historical legacy decays only gradually and at a very low rate.
This paper explores how multidimensional identity affects regime transition and violence. First, I build a model based on Acemoglu and Robinson (2006). My model finds that the overlap of the identity (e.g. language, religion) between the old and the new elite plays a key role. The main result is that the larger the overlap, the less likely will be repression, but so will be regime transition (democratization). I test the theory by comparing the actions of the eleven nationalities that comprised the Austrian empire during the 1848 revolutions. I also contrast these nationalities with ethnic kins beyond the border of the empire and augment the case studies with content analysis of the Hungarian revolutionary poet Sandor Petofi's poems.
While population is widely considered by political scientists to be a relevant factor affecting the overall propensity civil conflict, little research has been conducted on the effect of changes in population on the spatial distribution of violence. This project uses the Syrian civil war as a case study to investigate how shocks to the size of the civilian population affect the behavior of government and rebel forces during a civil war. It exploits the sudden and unanticipated closure of official border crossings in Turkey and Iraq in the Summer of 2012 to proxy for an exogenous increase population of non-combatants in the regions near these crossings. Using a difference-in-difference design and comparing regions near the Turkish and Iraqi borders with regions near the Lebanese and Jordanian borders, which were unaffected by the closure, I find that the increase in civilian population benefited Syrian rebels by reducing government attacks, consistent with theoretical expectations. This resulted in a significant decrease in civilian and rebel deaths compared to regions where the nearest border crossings remained open. I do not find that government forces responded to the shocks by escalating coercion of non-combatants
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has long been controlled by the United States. I show that countries that are politically closely aligned with the United States receive more foreign aid from UNICEF. In addition, UNICEF provides more aid to U.S.-friendly governments in recipient countries' election years, but only if those elections are competitive. I conclude that the United States uses UNICEF as a tool of its foreign policy. It uses its influence in an international organization to help aligned governments win elections, but does not want to waste aid money on elections whose result is known ahead of time. None of these findings hold for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) or the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), two U.N. organizations that have not been dominated by the United States.
My dissertation examines the concept of political transparency. I am primarily interested in two broad questions. First is a question of intellectual history: How did this concept crystallize, and how did it take on such an important place in our thinking and speaking about democracy? Second is a question of normative theory and institutional design: Why, from within the framework of modern constitutional democracy, should we care about transparency in the first place, and what counts as sound transparency policy in particular institutional settings? The research presented here forms a portion of my chapter on transparency in representative assemblies. I advance three objections to the existing paradigm for thinking about legislative transparency. Next, I step back to evaluate the various normative grounds on which transparency is defended. Finally, I suggest an alternative conception that avoids the problems of existing approaches. The argument proceeds as follows. (1) According to the dominant conception of transparency, the legislative process ought to be rendered perfectly visible, if possible by video broadcasting. (2) But this is problematic for a number of reasons, including that it would tend to harm the prospects for deliberation and compromise. (3) Supporting this dominant conception are some putative normative grounds for transparency that are themselves dubious. (4) By contrast, the normative rationales that I argue we should endorse suggest a different conception of legislative transparency, one that eschews the goal of maximum visibility. (5) On this more plausible account, legislative transparency would involve familiar measures such as publishing members» votes and sharing all manner of parliamentary documents, but it would also preserve spaces for confidential deliberation throughout the policy process.