Climate change and political (in)stability. Mimeo, New York University. 2022. R&R at American Political Science Review.
with Amanda Kennard.
As climate change accelerates, a looming question is what effects warming will have on the stability and organization of political systems. We argue that extreme weather associated with climate change can reshape societal relations by altering citizen perceptions of their political environment. We develop a theory of climate change and political mobilization which emphasizes the mediating role of citizens’ beliefs about their leaders, the state, and one another. We provide causal evidence for our claims using panel data at the household level for India (2005-2012). We find an increase in temperature of 3◦ Celsius reduces trust in political leaders and domestic security forces by around 2 percentage points (PP) while increasing cooperation by 3PP. We document further causal evidence for the underlying mechanisms by examining the impacts of climate on agricultural incomes, rates of violent and non-violent crime, and intra-community conflict. Finally we show that climate shocks impact real world political mobilization: temperature extremes lead to higher voter turnout and lower probability of incumbent re-election in state legislatures.
Unions and robots: International competition, automation and the political power of organized labor. Mimeo, New York University. 2022.
International economic competition has led to the increasing adoption of labor-replacing technology. What are the consequences of this development for the political influence of organized labor? I posit that robots make (skilled) workers more productive, increasing the opportunity cost of rent-seeking behavior via union activities. Consequently, the political influence of organized labor falls in response to robot adoption because unionization declines. I provide evidence for my claims using data from the U.S. (2004-2014) and a shift-share that leverages quasi-exogenous variation in international competition in the exposure to robots, at the congressional district level. An increase in one robot per a thousand workers reduces the likelihood that congresspeople vote with unions' interests by two percentage points. This effect is larger in areas with higher portions of skilled workers, lending support to the hypothesized opportunity-cost mechanism. Reductions in unionization, union activities and in campaign contributions in response to the exposure to robots explain this finding. Using demediation analysis I demonstrate that my findings are driven especially by lower unionization rates and not by the potentially competing effect of robots on unemployment.
Elite cues, identity and protectionism. Mimeo, New York University. 2022.
The combination of populism and protectionism emerged primarily from social class cleavages during the 20th century, to protect those affected by international economic competition. In the 21st century these cleavages have also involved an ethnic dimension, which regards the ethnic majority as the citizens deserving protection even though ethnic minorities are affected by international competition. What does explain this puzzle? I posit that this protectionist populism is especially likely to emerge when populists shape voters’ preferences over protectionism using elite cues. Cues generate voter polarization by activating voters’ social identities, and this benefits populists. Populists may not use cues on ethnic minorities when their support isn't essential because doing so isn't cost-effective. Counterintuitively, populists use cues when there’s little voter polarization ex-ante. I also find that higher international competition is generally insufficient to generate demands for protectionist populism in the absence of elite cues. My findings also provide various empirical implications.
Tariff revenues matter for democratization: Theory and evidence from the First Wave of Globalization. Mimeo, New York University. 2022.
with Rafael Ch.
Do tariff revenues affect democratization? We argue that tariff revenues have two effects: i) A rapacity effect because the fiscal windfalls generate incentives to control government, and ii) A redistributive effect because tariffs impact the returns to the factors of production, changing the distribution of power between politically-relevant groups. If ruling elites benefit from redistribution, this discourages a challenge to their rule. If elites lose from redistribution, they may share power to avoid expropriation. We test these claims during the First Wave of Globalization, when ruling elites were often landed. We find causal evidence that tariff revenues reduce democratization in land-abundant economies because ruling elites strengthen via the redistributive effect, as the return to land increases, and the windfalls bolster the rapacity effect. In capital-abundant economies the return to land falls, thus the redistributive effect offsets the rapacity effect. Congruently, we find a positive but statistically-insignificant effect for tariff revenues.
The limits of soft power: Chinese investment and local perceptions of China in Latin America Mimeo, New York University. 2023.
with Rocio Fabbro.
Chinese investment in Latin America has increased significantly in recent years, with important implications for the region's economic and political development. However, the impact of this investment on public opinion towards China remains unclear. This study seeks to address this gap in the literature by examining the relationship between proximity to Chinese investment projects and public opinion towards China in 13 Latin American countries between 2004 and 2020, using an spatial difference-in-differences design. Our analysis reveals that individuals living in municipalities proximate to Chinese investment projects express more negative opinions towards China compared to those in municipalities further away from such projects. We find evidence that the negative environmental effects and human rights issues associated with Chinese investment projects drive the observed results. These findings have important implications for policymakers and investors seeking to promote sustainable economic development in Latin America, as well as for understanding the complex relationship between economic globalization and public opinion, in the form of soft power.
Does economic interdependence reduce secessionist conflict? Mimeo, New York University. 2023.
Countries deal with both ungoverned spaces and secessionism, failing to govern their territory. Can economic interdependence address these problems? I develop a theoretical model where unity within states exhibits a U-shape as a function of interdependence within country. High levels of interdependence promote unity because they generate efficiency costs that tie the hands of the governments towards improving the spatial distribution of resources, increasing the opportunity cost of a dislocation. For low levels of interdependence, unity is achieved through the threat of coercion. At intermediate levels, neither redistribution nor coercion are sufficient for deterrence, thus the probability for secessionist conflict rises. I also show that stronger economic ties to other countries hamstring unity when the latter provide substitutes to local goods. If the home country economy becomes less competitive, governments' efficiency costs decrease and thus redistribution, reducing the likelihood of unity. This study provides new perspectives for studying trade, conflict and state formation.
Unexpected outcomes of terror: Can terrorism engender support towards the two-state solution in Israel? Mimeo, New York University. 2023.
with Lucy Yama.
We investigate the impact of terrorism on political attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Specifically, we seek to understand how immediate exposure to terrorism in Israel affects political attitudes towards a two-state solution for both Arabs and the Jewish population, and how these changes are moderated by their ethnic identity. Using survey data from the Israel National Election Studies (INES) from 2003 to 2015, and a combination of difference-in-differences with regression discontinuity, we find that proximity to a terrorist attack increases support for a two-state solution among Israel's Jewish population, while the effect on Arabs is not statistically significant. Our findings suggest that terrorism exposure has a differential impact conditional on the ethnic group, highlighting the importance of considering the unique experiences and perspectives of individuals experiencing conflict first hand. This study contributes to the existing literature on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by shedding light on the ways in which terrorism has increased support for the two-state solution, and underscores the need for nuanced approaches to conflict resolution.
The peaceful outcomes of civil conflict: Did exposure to violence increase support for the peace deal in Colombia? Mimeo, New York University. 2023.
with Linette Page.
Experiences with violence and personal identity are important factors in attitudes toward peace. We investigate the moderating role of political ideology on the effect of exposure to violence on citizens' support for peace in Colombia between 2013 and 2016, using data from the Americas Barometer. Using a combination of difference-in-differences and regression discontinuity design, we find that while experiences of violence significantly increase support for peace among right-wing individuals, there is no evidence of a statistically significant change among left-wing individuals. This study contributes to the existing literature on peace negotiations with armed groups, and underscores the need for nuanced approaches to conflict resolution that consider citizens' first-hand experiences with conflict.
The Value of Redistribution: Natural Resources and the Formation of Human Capital under Weak Institutions. Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 149, 102581. 2021.
with Jorge Aguero, Stanislao Maldonado and Hugo Ñopo.
We exploit time and spatial variation generated by the commodities boom to measure the effect of natural resources on human capital formation in Peru, a country with low governance indicators. Combining test scores from over two million students and district-level administrative data of mining taxes redistributed to local governments, we find sizable effects on student learning from the redistribution. However, and consistent with recent political economy models, the relationship is non-monotonic. Based on these models, we identify improvements in school expenditure and infrastructure, together with increases in health outcomes of adults and children, as key mechanisms explaining the effect we find for redistribution. Policy implications for the avoidance of the natural resource curse are discussed.
Article Preprint Online appendix
Think locally, regress globally: Promises and Pitfalls of Conventional IR Data. In Handbook of Research Methods in International Relations, Joseph Huddleston, Tom Jamieson, and Patrick James, Eds. Edward Elgar. 2022.
with Matt Malis.
This essay seeks to provide practical guidance for applied quantitative IR researchers regarding the steps of the research process in between theory development and statistical analysis. That is, given a clearly articulated theoretical prediction, what must be done before the researcher can run a regression? This chapter primarily addresses decisions pertaining to the selection of a sample of analysis, and the selection of variables to operationalize theoretical quantities of interests, with a focus on the implications of these decisions for internal and external validity and statistical power.