The Program for Quantitative and Analytical Political Science (Q-APS) at Princeton University hosts weekly seminars in Political Economy and Political Methodology. The links below provide detailed information on the topics covered, working papers, and individuals associated with the seminars.

Quantitative Social Science Seminar

Political Economy Research Seminar

Political Economy Research Seminar

Faculty Leader: Kris Ramsay

Graduate Student Coordinators: Jidong Chen and Kai Steverson

Location: 127 Corwin Hall

Day & Time: Thursdays, 12:15pm-1:30pm


September 20, 2012 Peter Buisseret POL Parliamentary or Presidential Government?
September 27, 2012 Giri Parameswaran ECON Animal Spirits and Fiscal Policy: The Debt Cost of Psychological Distortions to Beliefs
October 4, 2012 Deborah Beim POL

Learning in the Judicial Hierarchy

October 11, 2012 Carlo Prato POL Costly Campaigns and Independent Political Expenditure
October 18, 2012 Matias Iaryczower (faculty) POL

Power Brokers: Middlemen in Legislative Bargaining (with Santiago Oliveros)

October 25, 2012 Michael Becher POL Presidentialism, Parliamentarism and Redistribution
November 8, 2012 Scott Abramson POL Production, Predation, and the Origins of the Territorial State
November 15, 2012
November 29, 2012 Xiaojun Li, Stanford University Is Protection for Sale? The Political Economy of Trade Protection in Post-Reform China
December 6, 2012 Rohit Lamba ECON TBA
December 13, 2012 Jidong Chen POL Committee Deliberation before Agenda Setting
February 14, 2013 Brice Richard ECON Political and Redistributive Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement
February 21, 2013 Jidong Chen and Yiqing Xu (MIT) POL

A Theory of Regulated Complaints in Authoritarian Regimes: with Evidence from China

February 28, 2013 Garrett D. Lewis POL Efficiency and Federal Preemption of State Law
March 7, 2013 Ian Turner (Washington University in St. Louis) Working Smart and Hard? Policy vs. Practice
March 14, 2013 Toan Phan (Faculty, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
March 21, 2013 SPRING BREAK
March 28, 2013 Cheng Sun ECON
April 4, 2013 Kentaro Hirose POL
April 11, 2013 Midwest Conference
April 18, 2013 Tianyang Xi (New York University) Loyalty versus Competence: Internal Conflicts and the Pattern of Bureaucratic Controlling in China, 1644-1911
April 25, 2013 Kai Steverson ECON
May 2, 2013 In Song Kim POL

Quantitative Social Science Colloquium

The Quantitative Social Science Colloquium takes place Fridays, 12pm-1:30pm, in 127 Corwin.

The Quantitative Social Science Colloquium is a forum where graduate students and faculty members from various social science disciplines present their ongoing research that either applies or develops cutting-edge quantitative methods.  Occasionally, external speakers are invited to give a presentation.  The seminar is jointly sponsored by the Departments of Politics and Sociology. The Faculty Coordinators are Kosuke ImaiJohn LondreganMarc RatkovicMatthew Salganik, and Brandon Stewart. The Graduate Student Coordinators are Ted Enamorado and Han Zhang. Papers are posted in advance of the presentation. You may download them by clicking the presentation title in the table below.

Quantitative Social Science Colloquium Google Calendar (Subscribe)

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Past Seminars

2008-2009 | 2010-2011 | 2011-2012 | 2012-2013 | 2013-2014 | 2014-2015 | 2015-2016

Current Year Seminars

Date Presenter Title
Sept. 16, 2016

Jong Hee Park (Fung Fellow PIIRS, Princeton)

Modeling Network Changes: Application to the Evolution of Military Alliance Network, 1816-2012
Sep. 23, 2016

Yuki Shiraito

Uncovering Heterogeneous Treatment Effects
Sep. 30, 2016 Tyler Pratt Angling for Influence: Institutional Proliferation in Development Banking
Oct. 7, 2016

Christoph Mikulaschek 

The Power of the Weak: How Informal Power-sharing Shapes the Work of the United Nations Security Council

Oct. 14, 2016

Leonard Wantchekon

The Curse of Good Soil? Land Fertility, Roads, and Rural Poverty in Africa
Oct. 21, 2016

Christian Fong (Stanford GSB)

Limited Obstruction and Monopoly Agenda Setting

Oct. 28, 2016

Allison Chaney (Postdoc Computer Science Department)

Detecting and Characterizing Events

Dec. 2, 2016

Yunkyu Sohn (Postdoc Politics Department)

Multidimensional Ideal Point Estimation

Dec. 9, 2016

Elizabeth Roberto (Postdoc Sociology Department)

Barriers to Integration: Institutionalized Boundaries and the Spatial Structure of Residential Segregation
Dec. 16, 2016

Ethan Fosse (Postdoc Sociology Department)

New Approaches to Age-Period-Cohort Models in the Social Sciences
Feb. 10, 2017 Barbara Engelhardt 

Finding and exploiting latent structure with factor models

Feb. 17, 2017 Naoki Egami Causal Interaction in Factorial Experiments: Application to Conjoint Analysis
Feb. 24, 2017 Marc Ratkovic

Causal Inference through the Method of Direct Estimation

Mar. 3, 2017 Ted Enamorado

Using a Probabilistic Model to Assist Merging of Large-scale Administrative Records

Mar. 10, 2017 Ian Lundberg The Fragile Families Challenge: A Scientific Mass Collaboration to Improve the Lives of Disadvantaged Children in the U.S.
Mar. 17, 2017 Adeline Lo (Postdoc Politics Department)

Engendering Empathy, Begetting Backlash: American Attitudes toward Syrian Refugees

Mar. 31, 2017 Dalton Conley

Manipulating the Virtual Physics of Scoring Devices Can Promote Distributed Social Learning

Apr. 7, 2017 Molly Roberts (UCSD) How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information
Apr. 14, 2017 Nick Feamster Global Measurements of Internet Censorship
Apr. 21, 2017 Yu Xie

Treatment Effects Heterogeneity and Causal Inference

(paper 2)

(paper 3)

Apr. 28, 2017

Tyler H. McCormick (University of Washington)

"Probabilistic Cause-of-death Assignment using Verbal Autopsies"

May 5, 2017 Cyrus Samii (NYU) "Estimating Spatial Effects"
May 12, 2017 John Londregan "Ideas, Words, and the 1788 Ratification Debates"

Past Conferences


The Department of Politics and Princeton University are pleased to host the 28th Annual Society for Political Methodology Summer Meeting, a.k.a., Polmeth XXVIII.  The conference will be held July 28 - 30, 2011, on the campus of Princeton University.  PolMeth 2011 Attendees.

The Society for Political Methodology, the National Science Foundation, and the host institution have supported a summer conference in political methodology since 1984.  Recent past conferences have been hosted at University of Iowa, Yale University, the University of Michigan, Penn State, UC Davis, and Florida State University.

The 28th Annual Society for Political Methodology Summer Conference will be held July 28 - 30, 2011, on the campus of Princeton University.

Conference Website

Conference Program

2012 Graduate Student Research Poster Session

Graduate Student Research Poster Session
Princeton University
300 Wallace Hall
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
January 12, 2012

The Partisan Dynamics of Medicaid Expenditure

Carolyn Abott & Mateusz Tomkowiak

Optional Medicaid expenditures in generous New York are six times as high as frugal Colorado. What explains such massive state variation in the nation's largest welfare policy? Kousser (2002) showed that partisan control of the state legislature is a meaningful predictor of the level of state Medicaid expenditures. We investigate the claim by expanding his dataset and offering several robustness checks. First, we extend Kousser's panel OLS regression by introducing fixed effects and by placing the data into a non-nested hierarchical model. Second, through a series of cross-sectional regressions we also test the theoretical claim made by Beamer (1999) that the political dynamics of Medicaid spending underwent a fundamental shift in the wake of the managed care revolution of the 1990s.

Swords or Ploughshares: Production, Predation & the Origins of the Territorial State

Scott F Abramson

To explain both cross sectional and temporal variation in the size of states this paper develops a model of state formation characterized by wealth-maximizing agents who devote some fraction of resources to the production of economic output and the remaining fraction to the conquest of territory from which resources necessary for economic production are drawn. If all territory produces similar output or if returns to territorially fixed inputs are low, a world of equally sized states is predicted. However, if there is inequality in the distribution of the geographically fixed inputs then a world of unequal state sizes is predicted. Moreover, it is predicted that states initially located in resource poor regions will devote more eort to territorial expansion and consequently be of larger geographic scale. These empirical predictions are then tested using a unique data set that combines observations of European boundaries measured every five years between 1100 and 1800 AD and pale-climatic data that captures the capacity of land to produce agricultural output.

A Model of Learning on The Supreme Court
Deborah Beim

Studies of the judicial hierarchy have assumed the Supreme Court to be a monitor policing the lower courts for non-compliance. In those models, justices know their ideal doctrines and struggle to see them implemented. This paper shows how justices learn their ideal doctrine from their subordinate courts. I propose a formal model that explicates which cases the Supreme Court would take if its goal were learning, not monitoring. The Supreme Courts derived optimal strategy noticeably changes if one assumes its goal is not error-correction. Even with ideologically identical subordinates, the Supreme Courts position as doctrinal leader will lead it to take and overturn cases. In fact, in a monitoring framework ideological homogeneity is optimal but in a learning model it may not be. Furthermore, the Supreme Courts cert strategy is dependent on whether it can overturn only the case it takes or whether it can set a universally applicable doctrine.

An Experimental Approach to the Study of Judicial Elections
Alex Bolton & P.J. Gardner

Critiques of judicial elections by high-prole public gures has increased attention to selection of judges in state courts. Recent research focuses on new-style judicial campaigns, particularly the impact of campaign contributions and attack ads on judicial legitimacy. Using an original survey experiment, we broaden the scope of this research in two ways. First, we consider the effect of selection mechanisms more generally for judicial legitimacy, finding that non-partisan elections are associated with the highest levels of legitimacy, followed by merit-selection plans and partisan elections. Second, we find that these effects are conditional on the quality of judges. When respondents were presented with information suggesting that judges were of some quality, the effects of selection mechanisms on legitimacy are negligible. Additionally, we use evidence from our own survey and a survey of Kansas residents to identify potential individual level factors that influence support for judicial elections.

Parliamentary or Presidential Government
Peter Buisseret

I compare parliamentary and presidential government in a model with an executive and a decisive parliamentarian, whose ability to submit bills of high quality, or learn their quality, respectively, is private information. When the parliamentarian passes a bill submitted to it by the executive, the voter learns its quality; when he vetoes it, the observation of its quality is censored. After observing the actions of each politician, the voter chooses whether to retain each politician or replace them with a randomly drawn alternative. Under presidential government, the voter is allowed to choose distinct replacement strategies for each politician, whereas under parliamentary government, the voter is committed to using the same replacement strategy for both politicians. Whilst the richer set of strategies available to the voter under presidential government makes it a superior choice for the voter in an environment of complete information, in the case of private information and re-election motives the parliamentarian in a presidential system establishes a reputation for competence at the expense of the executive, by vetoing executive bills.

Learning and Collective Signaling Before Agenda Setting

Jidong Chen

This paper develops a two-period Romer-Rosenthal monopoly agenda setting model with strategic voting. Finite committee members (i.e. voters) have private information about their preferences over policy (e.g. public expenditure). An exogenous proposal is voted against the status quo in the first period. An agenda setter makes a new proposal when the initial one fails. The revised proposal will replace the reversion only when it is accepted by the committee. Existence of separating equilibrium (i.e. interior cut-point equilibrium) depends crucially on voters' "demand elasticity" (the percentage change in ideal policy demanded in response to a one percent change in the marginal cost of policy). (1) When the "demand elasticity" is sufficiently low, voters' incentive in signaling effect is severely distorted so that the unique equilibrium is pooling (i.e. each voter casts a no vote in the first period no matter what his preference is), in which case no information is disclosed before the second period and the bargaining is delayed with probability one; (2) When the "demand elasticity" is sufficiently high, voters' incentive in signaling eect is not distorted and satises "single-crossing condition" so that there is a separating equilibrium, in which the revised proposal is decreasing in the total negative votes of the initial election; (3) When the "demand elasticity" lies in certain intermediate range (including quadratic utilities), the single crossing condition is endogenously unsatised in voter's signaling effect (namely the strategic utility dierence between voting for and against the first proposal is not a monotonic function in each voter's type), in which case sufficient conditions are made for the existence a separating equilibrium. In addition, we characterize other properties of equilibrium and make comparisons with classical agenda setting model. Empirical and policy implications are also derived.

The Questionable Validity of Income Measures in the WorldValues Survey

Michael Donnelly and Grigore Pop-Eleches

TheWorld Values Survey is a widely used data sets in comparative politics. By providing comparable surveys in many countries over a long time period, it has encouraged investigation into such important topics as the relationship between development and democracy, the changing role of ideology, and the causes of happiness. In this paper, we examine the WVS measure of income, arguing that a variety of problems arise when drawing inferences - descriptive or causal, individual or aggregate - using the standard, 10-category measure. To do
this, we first examine and describe the data, the codebooks, and where available, the original questionnaires. Together, these call into question the concept validity of this measure. We then propose and implement a number of possible corrections to the potential biases we describe. Finally, we examine the tradeoffs between these corrections, urging researchers to select the most theoretically appropriate solution for their theoretical context.

Examining the Effect of the Feeney Amendment

Cody Grey & Edward Engelhardt

In 2003, Congress passed the Feeney Amendment to the PROTECT Act, establishing mandatory guidelines for criminal sentencing in the federal courts. In 2005, the Supreme Court effectively rendered those guidelines advisory with its decision in U.S. v. Booker. Previous studies have examined the system-wide effects of Feeney and Booker on sentencing outcomes, but these studies fail to consider two important determinants of such outcomes. First, the Supreme Court struck down state-level mandatory guidelines in Blakely v. Washington in mid-2004, causing some court circuits and districts to change or abandon their application of the federal guidelines. Second, implementation rates for all three sentencing interventions likely varied among circuits and districts. We use a multilevel model to analyze differences in federal sentencing outcomes across the jurisprudential regimes created by Feeney, Blakely, and Booker, as implemented across the various circuits and districts of the judicial hierarchy.

A Hierarchical Approach to Ethnic Power
Michael Homan, John Chin, & Matthew Tokeshi

We replicate and extend Cederman et al. (2010), which introduces the Ethnic Power Relations (EPR) Dataset. We take advantage of the hierarchical and temporal structure of the data, which we believe is not fully considered in Cederman et al. The original article uses traditional econometric methods for panel data which do not properly account for the multi-level nature of the data. The key addition of the EPR Dataset is its inclusion of sub-national (ethnic group-level) data in addition to standard country-level variables, and our paper will incorporate this structure in order to obtain more precise estimates. We estimate a multi-level model that includes the national, group-level, and temporaldimensions of the data. This model allows ethnic group-specific parameters to borrow strength from the corresponding parameters from other ethnic groups.

Participation During Hard Times: Estimating the Effect of Unemployment on Voter Turnout

Matthew Incantalupo

How does economic hardship aect political participation? In this paper, I examine the effect of unemployment on voter turnout in recent national elections. To overcome problems of selection bias in who experiences unemployment, I leverage the panel structure of the Current Population Study Voting and Registration Supplement and limit my sample to individuals who experience job loss in the weeks before and after the arbitrary date of Election Day. This produces a sample with improved covariate balance on key demographic variables known to influence political participation. I estimate the causal eect of unemployment on voter turnout using this pruned sample. My results indicate that unemployment has a positive effect on turnout during periods of high unemployment, and a negative eect on turnout during periods of low unemployment. Further analysis indicates that this pattern is consistent with a mobilization-based theory of unemployment, and not other factors such as leisure time.

Revaluating the Relationship Between Land Inequality and Vote Fraud in Imperial Germany
Rohan Mukherjee, Kevin Mazur, & Alienor Van den Bosch

Daniel Ziblatts 2009 APSR (103:1) paper, Shaping Democratic Practice and the Causes of Electoral Fraud shows that the functioning of democratic institutions in a newly democratizing country is shaped by the underlying distribution of pre-existing social power. Looking at 13 consecutive elections following the unification and democratization of Germany in 1871, he uses a time-series cross sectional analysis and separate models for each election period to capture the effect of pre-existing social power (measured as rural land inequality) on the incidence of electoral fraud. We make three extensions to his work: we use a multi-level model to investigate social power effects not captured by land inequality; we test Ziblatts causal mechanism by looking at the content of election petitions in two elections for which there are data; and we investigate the impact on his analysis of a critical juncture in Germany history: Bismarcks exit from German politics in 1890.

Press Coverage and Campaign Finance: How Media Markets Affect Political Donations
Bryn Rosenthal, Baxter Oliphant, & Lizette Taguchi

We build and empirically test a formal model in which interest group contributions may signal a politician's willingness to pursue policies that diverge from the preferences of the median voter, leading to fewer donations in high-information districts. Our theory builds on a standard result in formal models of electoral competition that campaign contributions are increasing in the share of uninformed voters, since uninformed voters are more likely to be swayed by political advertising. Using Center for Responsive Politics data on campaign contributions over the period 1990-2006, we nd evidence not only that interest groups are more likely to donate to candidates who represent low-information districts, but also that the effect of news coverage depends on the type of interest group: Whereas corporate PACs give substantially less in high- information districts, this relationship does not hold for groups representing more encompassing interests, such as membership and labor PACs.

Responsiveness, Accountability, and the Regulatory State

Alex Ruder

Should presidents have more control over the bureaucracy? Does more presidential control increase the responsiveness and accountability of the regulatory state? We investigate the thesis of presidential administration by analyzing two U.S. agencies: the cabinet-level Department of Justices Antitrust Division and the independent Federal Trade Commissions Bureau of Competition. Using a variety of policy outputs, we find no difference between the two agencies responsiveness to external demands for antitrust enforcement. We also show that the president maintains control over independent regulatory commissions primarily through the appointment power. Finally, to test the accountability thesis, we use content analysis on a database of media articles covering antitrust enforcement, determining whether the actions of a cabinet-level agency are more closely associated with the electorally-accountable chief executive. The results clarify some common assumptions about agency institutional design and provide support for reputation-based theories of bureaucratic behavior.

Reappraising a Reappraisal of the Resource Curse
Yuki Shiraito, Jennifer Dennard, Gabriel Lopez-Moctezuma, & Devin Incerti

We reexamine two ndings from Haber and Menaldo (2011): first, that there is little evidence of a negative relationship between resource wealth and democracy, and second, that resource wealth may even increase the likelihood of democratization. Although they create a new valuable data set about resource wealth that goes back to 1800, there are serious mistakes in their analysis. We correct their methodological flaws and find that their results suggesting a resource blessing do not hold. We further explore the effect of resource wealth on regime type by analyzing their data with more appropriate methods. In particular, we propose (1) employing a correctly specied dynamic panel data model that explicitly considers structural breaks in
the data, (2) accounting for endogeneity by using an instrumental variables approach, (3) addressing the multilevel structure of the data with a hierarchical model and (4) measuring regime type as both a continuous and discrete variables.

A Theory of Presidential Signing Statements with a Test

Sharece Thrower

George W. Bushs controversial use of signing statements has given this previously unknown power recent attention. However, this practice, allowing the president to essentially nullify sections of legislation he deems unconstitutional, has been used strategically by presidents well before Bush. Existing political science research has primarily focused on how the presidents relationship to Congress influences his use of signing statements. However, these studies have neglected to address how the presidents relationship to the Court could constrain his use of these statements, a potentially important relationship given his often dubious use of constitutional objections. In this paper, I examine how the presidents distance to the Court influences his use of signing statements. Utilizing correlated random effects models to account for variation across presidencies, I find that the further the president is ideologically located from Court, the less likely he is to issue a signing statement raising constitutional objections.

The Onset of Ethnic Secession: Consolidation and Contestation
Jaquilyn Waddell Boie

Since the 1980s, ethnic self-determination movements have accounted for an increasing proportion of armed conflicts. In many states, numerous ethnic groups have expressed a desire for autonomy or have sought autonomy through violent means. While studies on self-determination movements have increased over recent years, there remains much debate regarding the conditions associated with ethnic secession. The question remains: why do some ethnic groups choose to engage in ethnic secession while others do not? This project seeks to contribute to the study of self-determination movements by analyzing the conditions associated with the onset of ethnic secession. Initial results from the formal and quantitative models suggest that previous explanations may not fully account for the empirical patterns of ethnic secession onset. An alternative explanation, namely that windows of opportunity created by space and leverage for political contestation may facilitate the onset of ethnic secession, provides a promising avenue for ongoing research.

Bringing the Firm into Political Analysis: The Distributional Implications of Basel III Regulatory Announcements upon Financial Services Firms
Meredith Wilf

How can international relations scholars move from country-level to firm-level political inquiry? To test hypotheses about domestic cleavages in a given issue-area, instead of analyzing aggregate country or industry data, I apply basic financial models to political science to estimate the effects of new policy information upon firm-level outcomes. Specically, I estimate firm-level abnormal stock returns in response to new policy information using the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) at the event-level, seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) to estimate an ongoing time series across events, and rolling regression to estimate the volatility of moving-window estimations over the time series. Substantively I apply this design to test the distributional implications of Basel III regulatory announcements, multilateral rules for international banks, in 2009 and 2010 upon a sample of 282 publicly-traded banks, securities, and insurance firms. The findings imply the within-industry cleavages that may be expected to arise in continued negotiations over rules-based international governance in financial services.

The Benefits of Monetary Policy-Making by Committee: The Case of England and Sweden 1999-2008
Carlos Velasco Rivera

Two important benets of monetary policymaking by committee emphasized in the literature are: (a) protection against extreme views and (b) pooling different processing methods available to individuals. But do extreme views exist in monetary policy-making? And if so, which type of committee member holds such views? Further, which type of committee member process information in the most efficient way? I present evidence tackling these questions based on voting data available for the Bank of England (BoE) and Sweden's Riksbank for the period 1999-2008. For England, the results show that only external members have better precision of information. In addition, the analysis shows that external members, along with members holding a PhD, are more dovish relative to their peers. In the case of Sweden, no member type has better quality of information, and only those with government experience are more dovish relative to their counterparts at the Riksbank.

2011 Princeton University Conference on Political Agency and Institutions

Princeton University Conference on
Political Agency and Institutions

April 8 - 9, 2011
127 Corwin Hall

Friday, April 8, 2011

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Experimentation and Persuasion in Political Organizations
Alex Hirsch, Princeton University

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. The Industrial Organization of Private Politics
David Baron, Kellogg School of Business and Stanford GSB

4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Coffee Break

4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Executive Control vs. Bureaucratic Insulation in Distributive Politics:
Evidence from Federal Contracting
Sandy Gordon, NYU

6:30 p.m. Drinks followed by dinner at Mediterra Restaurant
29 Hulfish Street, Princeton, NJ 08542

Saturday, April 9, 2011

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Information Aggregation and Optimal Structure of the Executive
Francesco Squintani, University of Essex (with Toran Dewan, Andrea Galeotti, and Christian Chiglino)

10:30 – 12:00 p.m. The Dynamic Effects of Information on Political Corruption:
Theory and Evidence from Puerto Rico
Ranier Schwabe, Kellogg School of Management (with Gustavo Bobonis and Luis Camara-Fuertes)

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Costly Transparency
Justin Fox, Yale (with Richard Van Weelden)

2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Challengers, Democratic Contestation, and Electoral Accountability
Ken Shotts, Stanford GSB (with Scott Ashworth)

2011 Graduate Student Research Poster Session

2011 Graduate Student Research Poster Session
300 Wallace Hall
11:00 am - 1:30 pm
January 7, 2011

Feudal Institutions and Enclosure in England
Scott Abramson

Legal acts of enclosure have been thought to indicate a fundamental change in the English aristocracy's attitude towards the treatment of land, a change demonstrative of an abandonment of medieval economic values and the adoption of a system of beliefs concordant with commercial capitalism (Moore, 1966; Polanyi 1944). I show that the probability enclosure between 1500 and 1900 in two southern English counties was a function of the medieval institutions in existence half a millennium prior. Where serfdom prevailed landlords were less restricted in their later ability to enclose on common land. Where peasants maintained political rights, acts of enclosure were less likely to occur. I propose an instrument to show that this relationship is causal.

Do Congressional Elites Respond to Voter Signals? A Regression Discontinuity Approach
Michael Barber and Aram Hur

Most studies in American political behavior have focused on how the public responds to elite signals, but not the other way around. Yet elite response to the public is the key to a healthy democracy. The challenge of studying elite response is that usually, voter signals are endogenous to prior elite influence. Using a regression discontinuity design, we are able to move beyond this problem. We take advantage of precipitation on Election Day and its documented boost for Republican presidential candidates. By estimating the effect of precipitation on GOP vote share, we are able to identify states that, because to precipitation, were carried by a Republican presidential candidate. In other words, we can identify states where the Electoral College outcome is essentially a randomized, and therefore exogenous, voter preference signal. Using regression discontinuity, we then analyze change in DW-NOMINATE scores of congressmen in these states to see if and how much they respond to voter signals.

Accounting for Accounting: What Governments Do with Unanticipated Revenue
Omar Bashir and Darren Lim

How do governments make use of unanticipated revenue inflows? Building on the work of Kuziemko and Werker (2006) and Bueno de Mesquita and Smith (2010), we employ election to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as an exogenous source of variation in US foreign aid. Given that temporary UNSC membership triggers a short-term spike in US aid flows, we seek to investigate how this unanticipated revenue alters the spending patterns of governments. In contrast to previous studies which analyze macro-level variables such as GDP growth and democracy score, we focus on how money is spent, asking whether additional funds are diverted toward social spending, capital works, the military, bureaucracy or simply towards patronage. The goal of this project is to understand what, if anything, explains variation in the spending arising from unanticipated revenue inflows, and ultimately to discern which patterns are healthiest for economic and political development.

What is the causal eect of single-party majority government on fiscal policy? Evidence from a regression-discontinuity analysis
Michael Becher

A prominent view in comparative politics and political economy is that single-party majority governments produce lower budget decits than coalition governments. Because the type of government is an endogenous feature of representative democracies, it is difficult to estimate the causal effect of the type of government on social policy from observational data. This paper uses a natural experiment to estimate the effect of single-party government on budget deficits in a large panel of parliamentary democracies. In particular, it exploits the discontinuity provided by majority rule in the legislature and compares social policy outcomes in cases where the largest party in the lower house just wins enough seats to form a single-party majority government with cases where the largest party narrowly fails to obtain a majority by a few seats, and a coalition or minority government emerges. The (fuzzy) regression discontinuity analysis shows that single-party government lowers the decit by approximately 2 percentage points, plus or minus 1 percentage point.

Bargaining Over Opinion Content on the Supreme Court

Deborah Beim

Judicial politics has focused extensively on who controls the content of opinions on the Supreme Court. Most studies have focused on observed behavior, usually votes; more recently, others have studied attributes of the opinions themselves, like their linguistic content or citations within them. I link these two strands of research by using data from the production of opinions, including length of time in days to produce the majority opinion, number of drafts produced, and number of memos concerning the opinion circulated. I ask whether the median justice receives fewer memos from their colleagues, write fewer drafts of the majority opinion, or write the majority opinion more quickly. Next, I use the Clark and Lauderdale scores, which put justices and opinions on the same ideological scale, and ask whether an opinion is closer to a justice's ideal point when it is written in fewer drafts or with fewer received memos.

Methods for Estimating the Causal Effect of the Discovery of Natural Resources on Violence
Graeme Blair

The workhorse theory relating resource revenues and civil conflict suggest that weakness in the state caused by the reliance on natural resource revenues instead of taxes leads to challenges both at the center and for control of remote areas. Yet a competing theory proposes that the higher returns to capturing the resource region increases the probability of challenges to the state's control of that region. Current methods do not allow us to adjudicate between these theories, because they fail to account for the location of resources and conflict. I present results using a simple matching estimator with data from 1km grids across the world from 1946 to 2005, with the causal quantity being the discovery in a grid square-year of crude oil, and civil conflict onset in a grid square-year as the outcome. Contrary to expectations, the presence of natural resources does not appear to be related to civil conflict.

Protection for Workers or Aggressive Unilateralism?: the Gen
eralized System of Preferences and Human Rights Conditions
Jaquilyn Waddell Boie

In 1971, the EU became the first nation to offer a Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to promote preferential trade policy with developing nations. In 1976, the United States became the seventh nation to implement the GSP. Under the 1984 GSP Renewal Act, the US became the first nation to formally condition GSP benefits on countries' protection of fundamental workers' rights. The EU followed in the 1990s, first conditioning the receipt and continuation of GSP benefits on the protection of workers from forced labor and later providing incentives to ratify conventions of the International Labour Organization. Though hailed as a means of promoting workers' rights, critics have argued that GSP sanctions are ineffective and merely a guise for protectionism. We seek to address this debate by exploring the economic, political, and human rights conditions associated with US GSP country beneficiary status as well as the application of workers' rights sanctions.

Modes of Hierarchical Communication in Political Parties
Peter Buisseret

This paper considers the positive and normative basis for communication and deliberation in political parties. Activists possess private information about an unknown state and have an opportunity to communicate their information to any subset of activists before a second stage in which a pre-specied set of party members take actions on behalf of the party. Each activist cares about the proximity of the action profile to the true state plus an agent-specic bias. The leadership cares about the congruence of actions with the unknown state, but also wishes to minimize the heterogeneity of the action profile. I study the incentives for agents to communicate with one another under both private and public deliberation, as well as how these incentives change when the leadership delegates policy authority to agents with more proximate bias to those holding relevant information. The model relates the degree of oligarchy in parties to the `voice' of its members, and provides conditions under which centralized parties may provide for more effective information aggregation than those which are decentralized.

Identifying Causal Mediators for the Effect of Multi-member Districts on the Election of Female Representatives

Will Bullock

The goal of the project is to assess what impact, if any, the use of multi-member districts (MMDs) has on the behavior of voters, relative to the more common single-member districts (SMDs). Observational evidence suggests that MMDs result in the election of more women, but the reason for this increase in unknown. While there may be an eect on party leaders and candidates, this research focuses on the behavior of voters. The underlying assumption of this research is that some voters will desire gender balance of their elected representatives and in MMD elections promote the female candidate into the top two, when they otherwise would not have done so under SMD election scenarios.

Pooling Ordered Data with Dierent Scales
Michael Donnelly

A common problem in political science research is that different polling organizations or different polls ask the same question, but code responses using a dierent scale, requiring the researcher who wants to pool the data for the purpose of increasing statistical power or analytical leverage to recode the data. In this paper, I argue that the traditional solutions that applied researchers use to solve this problem can be improved upon using Bayesian imputation, which takes advantage of the latent variable representation of ordered data. First, I formalize and categorize the some traditional approaches. I then compare the results of two new techniques to the outcome of traditional approaches on Monte Carlo simulated data. Results suggest that these are promising approaches to a problem that is common both in American Politics and Comparative Politics.

Open Trade for Sale

In Song Kim

In addition to the big states' beggar-thy-neighbor economic incentives, political motivation to protect import competing industries exist even within small countries who cannot manipulate their terms of trade. In this regard, "Protection for Sale" well summarizes the political dynamics against trade liberalization. This paper examines theoretical conditions under which counteracting political forces may also exist. Rather than introducing distortions into economic policy, political pressures from organized lobby groups can induce governments to reduce distortions. Motivated by Melitz (2003), this paper presents a formal model of an industry with differentiated goods under monopolistic competition. First, consumer's love of variety decreases political incentives to protect domestic industries since doing so may increase economic deadweight loss. Second, only small numbers of highly productive firms can export, thereby owners of specific factors for such firms credibly solve their collective action problem in organizing lobbying groups. In this respect, this paper identies an important political channel through which "open trade for sale" occurs within industries of differentiated goods due to diverse consumer tastes and firm level differences.

Who Supports FDI? A Multilevel Approach to Individual Preference Formation

Jason McMann and Justin Simeone

The existing literature on foreign direct investment (FDI) focuses on the economic and political consequences of investment inflows, yet largely fails to examine the variables that shape individual preferences for FDI. Using three discrete years of Latinobarometer survey data across 7 to 18 countries, we advance and test a theory to account for variation in individual preferences for FDI. In so doing, we make two key theoretical contributions to existing work. First, whereas prior research emphasizes individuals' skill level, we argue that preferences also vary by country-level characteristics. Second, given that individuals likely possess limited information about the effects of FDI, we advance a sociotropic mechanism based on individuals' perceptions of national economic performance. We test these hypotheses using a multi-level probit model. While skill level remains signicant, individuals' perceptions of national economic performance, as well as country-level economic characteristics, are also important predictors of individual preferences for FDI.

Press Coverage and Campaign Finance: How Media Markets Affect Political Donations

Baxter Oliphant, Bryn Rosenfeld, and Lizette Taguchi

In a recently published study of media coverage and political accountability, Snyder and Stromberg (2010) find that the structure of U.S. House districts' media markets affects voter participation and the behavior of congressional representatives. Where newspapers cover multiple districts (low congruence), voters are less well-informed about their representative and representatives do less for their districts. Our paper extends these findings, using Snyder and Stromberg's measure of exogenous variation in press coverage to investigate how media market structure influences campaign finance. Employing a dataset from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), we examine two possibilities: First, special interests are more likely to donate to candidates who represent low congruence districts where representatives may have more leeway to pursue special interest agendas. Second, members in low congruence districts are more likely to rely on larger individual donations, since the incentives for a representative to cultivate a signicant network of small donors are weaker in such an information environment.

Finding Optimal Balance: Support Vector Machines as a Matching Method
Marc Ratkovic

Contemporary matching algorithms leave much to the applied researcher's discretion. These arbitrary decisions relating to functional form, caliper size, or bin size, can lead to different matched subsets, with no sense as to which is optimal. In this paper, I use support vector machines to characterize and identify a subset of the data that is optimally matched, in the sense of minimizing a stated objective function. The method is implemented both parametrically and nonparametrically. I prove that minimizing this objective function produces uncorrelatedness between assignment to treatment and covariates. Illustration on the Lalonde data illustrates dramatic improvement over existing methods.

Were there returns to political office in Postwar Britain?

Timo Thoms and Carlos Velasco

Estimating causal effects with regression discontinuity designs and matching, Eggers and Hainmueller (2009) and that serving as Members of Parliament causes Conservative politicians to accrue more wealth than unsuccessful Conservative candidates. We revisit their results by addressing two methodological issues in their analysis. First, we follow Imbens and Kalyanaraman's (2009) proposed rule for deriving the optimal bandwidth for the RDD, and reestimate the causal effect. This choice yields a much smaller optimal bandwith than that used by Eggers and Hainmueller (2009), and puts into question some of the paper's results. Second, we note that Eggers and Hainmueller (2009) introduce post-treatment bias by controlling for the year of death of candidates in the analyses. To address this issue, we suggest reconceptualizing the dependent variable as the average rate of wealth accumulation between treatment assignment and a candidate's end of life, and based on this new dependent variable, we reestimate the causal effects with both RDD and matching.

Voting, Income Inequality, and Polarization

Teppei Yamamoto

Existing models of income-based voting tend to overlook societal factors which may critically condition the way income is related to preferences about redistribution. In this paper, we focus on two such factors: economic inequality and political polarization. We extend the model of income-based voting developed by McCarty, Poole and Rosenthal (2006) to analyze how inequality and polarization may modify the effect of income on redistribution preferences in multiparty systems. The model predicts that preferences about taxation will be more strongly associated with income in systems where party platforms are more polarized. Moreover, greater inequality will further enhance this association for those voters who support the most extreme parties. To test these hypotheses with crossnational survey data, we use a Bayesian hierarchical approach in which vote choices are modeled as function of national, party, and individual-level predictors.

2010 Princeton University Conference on Game Theoretic Analysis of Conflict

Princeton University Conference on
Game Theoretic Analysis of Conflict

Supported by the Department of Politics,
the Economic Theory
Center and
Research Program in Political Economy

February 26 – 27, 2010
127 Corwin Hall

Friday, February 26, 2010

12:00-1:30 p.m. Optimal Incentives in Crisis Bargaining
Presenter: Kris Ramsay
Discussant: Serra Boranbay

1:30-2:45 p.m. Mediation and Peace
Presenter: Francesco Squintani
Discussant: Adam Meirowitz

2:45-4:00 p.m. Persistent Fighting to Forestall Adverse Shifts in the Distribution of Power
Presenter: Bob Powell
Discussant: Alastair Smith

4:00-4:30 p.m. Snacks and open discussion

Saturday, February 27, 2010

9:00-9:30 a.m. Breakfast

9:30-10:45 a.m. Strategic Mass Killings
Presenter: Massimo Morelli
Discussant: Ethan Buena de Mesquita

10:45-11:00 a.m. Coffee Break

11:00 -12:15 p.m. Torture
Presenter: Sandeep Baliga
Discussant: Navin Kartik

12:15-1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30-2:45 p.m. War Finance and Coercive Bargaining,
Presenter: Branislav Slantchev
Discussant: Scott Ashworth

2:45-3:00 p.m. Coffee Break

3:00-4:15 p.m. Peace and War with Endogenous State Capacity
Presenter: Stergios Skaperdas
Discussant: Mark Fey