WORKING PAPERS:

Citizen Perceptions of the Resource Curse

Co-Authored with Brandon de la Cuesta, Daniel Nielson, and Stephen Knack

Abstract:

We perform a survey experiment with behavioral outcomes on a nationally representative subject pool of Ugandans (n = 3186) to estimate their willingness to monitor and sanction spending behavior across three sources of government revenue: on-budget aid, oil production, and taxes. We probed the alternative revenue streams’ anticipated political consequences and their influence on the willingness of subjects to take action to support transparent spending according to citizen preferences. While we find some meaningful differences in the perceived likelihood that some revenue sources will be expropriated by the elite or contribute to political instability, we find that Ugandans are no more likely to take costly action to monitor and sanction mismanagement of tax revenues than oil or aid revenues. Our results suggest that this is likely due to low priors on the responsiveness of elected officials to citizen demands, and to a lack of transparency in how any revenues that pass through the central government are spent.

The Effect of Multilateral vs. Bilateral Aid on Recipient Behavioral Support

Co-Authored with Michael Findley, and Daniel Nielson

Abstract:

The literature on foreign assistance generally holds that multilateral aid is preferable to bilateral aid, but establishes this primarily through highly aggregated cross-national time-series data. We investigate this topic experimentally from the perspective of those whom the foreign aid directly affects: recipient citizens. We thus report results of a survey exper-iment with behavioral outcomes on more than 3,000 Ugandan citizens. The findings provide some evidence that multilateral aid is indeed preferable to bilateral aid, but the effect obtains only for some of our outcomes of interest. We disaggregate the data and compare preferences within the multilateral and bilateral categories and show evidence that aid from the U.S. government is preferred to aid from China for some outcomes.

Elite and Mass Support for Foreign Aid versus Government Programs: Experimental Evidence from Uganda

Co-Authored with Michael Findley, Adam Harris, and Daniel Nielson

AidData Working Paper No. 15

Abstract:

Extant studies have left unresolved whether foreign aid enables or constrains elite capture, which in turn has effects on the public. Building on prominent debates in the foreign aid literature, we theorize that foreign donors wield substantial control over the flow of aid dollars, making elite cap-ture more difficult and by extension mass benefits more likely. To assess the argument, we compare elite and mass support for foreign aid versus government spending on development projects through an experiment and survey on members of the Ugandan national parliament and a parallel study on a representative sample of roughly 3,600 Ugandan citizens. For two actual aid projects, we randomly assigned exposure to the projects‘ different funders. Significant treatment effects on atti-tudes and behaviors reveal that members of parliament support government programs over foreign aid, whereas citizens prefer aid over government. The argument also implies that respondents should favor foreign aid more as their perceptions of government clientelism and corruption in-crease. Using subgroup analysis, we explore this pattern and also report on several possible com-peting mechanisms: partisanship, co-ethnic bias, nationalism, incumbency, and a foreign media effect. Effects are most apparent for members of parliament and citizens who perceive significant government corruption, suggesting that citizens see foreign aid as an escape from corruption, but elites perceive more avenues for the capture of government resources compared to aid.

Appendix available here.

Citizen Preferences and Public Goods: Comparing Preferences for Foreign Aid and Government Programs in Uganda

Co-Authored with Daniel Nielson, and Michael Findley

Abstract:

Different theories about the impact of aid make distinct predictions about citizens’ attitudes toward foreign aid in recipient countries. We investigate their preferences toward aid and government projects in order to examine these different theories. Are citizens indifferent between development projects funded by their own government or by foreign aid donors? To address this, in an experiment on a large, representative sample of Ugandan citizens, we randomly assigned the names of funding groups for actual forthcoming development projects and invited citizens to express support attitudinally and behaviorally. We find that citizens are significantly more willing to show behavioral support in favor of foreign aid projects compared to government programs, especially if they already perceive the government as corrupt or clientelist or if they are not supporters of the ruling party. They also trust donors more, think they are more effective, and do not consistently oppose aid conditionality. This experimental evidence is consistent with a theory that sees donors as being able to target and condition aid so that it is not fungible with government revenues and thus to be able to better direct it to meet citizens’ needs.

The Domestic Politics of Preferential Trade Agreements in Hard Times

Co-Authored with Edward D. Mansfield

Abstract:

We present a theory of why some countries negotiate trade agreements during economic downturns. We argue that political leaders can gain from such agreements because of the signals they send to their publics. Publics are less likely to blame leaders for bad economic conditions when they have implemented sound economic policies, such assigning and implementing agreements designed to liberalize and expand trade. Leaders have particular reason to seek this type of insurance if they compete for office in a competitive political environment. The more democratic their political system is, the more they can gain from implementing trade agreements. We evaluate this argument by analyzing all preferential trade agreements (PTAs) ratified by countries since 1951. We find that democratic countries are especially likely to ratify PTAs during hard economic times.

Economic and Cultural Sources of Preferences for Globalization in Egypt

Co-Authored with Amaney A. Jamal

Abstract:

What factors shape attitudes toward economic globalization? Theories in international and comparative political economy emphasize the importance of economic variables, like factor endowments, as determining preferences toward international trade. Other literature emphasizes the importance of non-economic factors, including nationalism and cultural values, like tolerance, that might explain citizens’ predispositions toward globalization. This paper attempts to adjudicate between these two competing arguments by focusing on the factors correlated with public support for increasing trade in Egypt. On the one hand, Egypt might benefit from economic globalization. On the other, it has a rich and deep socio-political history of Western colonialism, political Islam, and radicalism. This history might serve as the lens through which the potential benefits of globalization are assessed. In this paper, we investigate these questions, using data from the Pew Global Attitudes 2010 survey of Egyptians. We find that both economic and cultural factors matter, but that cultural ones may be even more influential in this particular developing country setting.

The Interaction of International and Domestic Institutions: Preferential Trade Agreements, Democracy, and Foreign Direct Investment

Co-Authored with Tim Büthe

Abstract:

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has come to be seen as a promising avenue for boosting economic development. As a consequence, most developing countries now seek to attract FDI, often by making ex ante promises to foreign investors not to pass laws or regulations – or refrain from other actions – that would diminish the value of the investment ex post. But how credible are such promises? A number of recent studies have examined the effect of domestic institutions (veto players, democracy, etc.) on the credibility of commitments by developing country governments toward foreign private economic actors, such as foreign investors. In addition, a few studies have examined the effect of international institutions on the credibility of such commitments. We examine the interaction of domestic and international institutions in promoting FDI. We show theoretically and empirically that democratic domestic institutions help attract more FDI into developing countries only in the context of economically liberal international institutions.

Sailing the Water's Edge: Where Domestic Politics Meets Foreign Policy

Co-Authored with Dustin H. Tingley

Abstract:

How important is the President for US foreign policy? Studies in American politics – the Two Presidencies literature – assert that the president is much less constrained by Congress and other domestic forces in foreign policy than in domestic policy. Studies in international relations also often assume that the president is the most important actor in foreign policy and is relatively unconstrained by domestic politics. Additionally, studies in international relations often assume that each issue area in foreign policy can be studied in separation. We challenge each of these views. Using new data on roll call votes in Congress and on Presidential-Congressional budget interactions, we argue that 1. Foreign policy instruments should be analyzed jointly and comparatively because they are substitutable, 2. Some foreign policy instruments are more constrained by Congress and domestic forces and look more like domestic issue areas, 3. Other foreign policy instruments, because they can be linked more directly to national security, allow the President more discretion and influence over their use. Our research has two larger implications. Presidential bargaining with Congress over foreign policy matters since the Presidents tends to be more favorable on average to international engagement; rising congressional influence may circumscribe America's role in the international system. Finally, given the ability of the President to bargain more successfully for the use of instruments that are more linked to national security issues, these instruments are more likely to be employed by the executive. This may help account for the growing militarization of American foreign policy since World War II.

The Economic and Political Influences on Different Dimensions of United States Immigration Policy

Co-Authored with Dustin H. Tingley

Abstract:

Recent research on political attitudes towards immigration often pits arguments emphasizing economic self-interest against ideological or cultural explanations. Many of these studies conceptualize immigration policy along a single dimension instead of disaggregating it into its distinct policy dimensions. Conditional on the type of immigration policy, different explanations should have more or less explanatory power. We disaggregate immigration policy into six different dimensions and provide theoretical scope conditions for when ideological and economic factors should matter. We test these predictions on votes on immigration policy in the US House of Representatives from 1979-2006. We advance the debate on the determinants of immigration policy by showing that both economic self-interest and ideological explanations can be powerful, depending upon the type of immigration policy under consideration.

Democracy and Trade Policy in Developing Countries: Particularism and Domestic Politics with a Case Study of India

Co-Authored with Bumba Mukherjee

Abstract:

What explains the variation in trade policy among democracies in developing countries? Why have some liberalized trade more than others? We analyze the impact of political particularism – defined as the degree of party discipline and the incentives for politicians to cultivate a personal vote – on trade protection. We present theoretical results from a model of particularism and its effects on tariffs; we present quantitative evidence to test the model; and then we develop a case study of India to illuminate it. Our model analyzes how an increase in particularism (that is, a shift from a party-centered to a more candidate-centered system) interacts with the degree of inter-industry occupational mobility of labor and the asset-specificity of industries to influence trade policies in developing democracies. Our model suggests that an increase in particularism induces leaders from the ruling and opposition parties to shift trade policy in equilibrium to the median voter's optimal preference, who in a developing society is a worker; and this means a reduction in trade barriers when labor mobility is high. Our data strongly support this conclusion. Our case study of India shows how the dynamics of a party-centered system operate to maintain higher trade barriers.


Democracy, Globalization and the Skill-Bias in Trade Policy in Developing Countries

Co-Authored with Bumba Mukherjee

Abstract:

Existing research suggests that democracy fosters economic globalization by promoting trade liberalization in the developing world. We argue that democracy in developing countries generates a “skill bias” in trade protection where democratic incumbents have incentives to increase tariffs on high skilled goods but reduce trade barriers on low skilled goods. Our model analyzes how electoral competition and interest group politics in the Heckscher-Ohlin economy of a democratic developing country affects trade protection on low and high skilled goods. It predicts that electoral competition induces the government to reduce trade barriers for low skilled goods to appeal to the abundant factor, namely the low skilled median voter, who optimally prefers a reduction in tariffs for low skilled goods. Yet electoral politics also engenders lobbying pressure and campaign contributions from the scarce factor in the polity – the owners of skill-intensive industries (the interest group) – who prefers more trade protection for high skilled goods. The government rationally responds to these contributions by protecting skill-intensive industries from import competition. Empirical tests conducted on a disaggregated industry-level dataset of trade protection supports our theoretical predictions.


The Global Spread of the Internet: The Role of International Diffusion Pressures in Technology Adoption

Abstract:

What factors have promoted and retarded the spread of the internet globally? Much as other technologies, the internet has diffused unevenly across countries. The main proposition is that its spread is neither purely economic nor entirely domestic. International diffusion pressures exert a powerful influence. The adoption of new technology depends on domestic policy, and this in turn depends on the choices that political leaders make about rules governing new technologies. I examine the impact of international diffusion pressures on political leaders, testing the role of five types of such pressures. The distribution of capabilities globally may shape the spread of the internet, as dominant power(s) may directly or indirectly coerce others into adopting. Patterns of adoption may also be shaped by competitive pressures from the world market. Technological change especially may depend on network externalities, involving the number of adopters already in existence. Learning from other countries or from participating in international organizations may stimulate adoption. Finally, countries may simply copy the policies and hence the adoption patterns of other countries with whom they share sociological similarities. Data from about 190 countries since 1990 shows that diffusion pressures matter, even when controlling for domestic factors. Economic competition and sociological emulation play consistently important roles in affecting the spread of the internet.



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