Out with the old
Exit, Voice and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States
Mounir Karadja & Erik Prawitz
Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming
We study the political effects of mass emigration to the United States in the 19th century using data from Sweden. To instrument for total emigration over several decades, we exploit severe local frost shocks that sparked an initial wave of emigration, interacted with within-country travel costs. Our estimates show that emigration substantially increased the local demand for political change, as measured by labor movement membership, strike participation and voting. Emigration also led to de facto political change, increasing welfare expenditures as well as the likelihood of adopting more inclusive political institutions.
Global Democracy for Europeans: A Demographic Story
John Gerring & Brendan Apfeld
University of Texas Working Paper, November 2018
Insofar as democracy is a product of long-term diffusion, scholars generally focus on colonialism (especially English) or religion (especially Protestant). Here, we focus on a third pathway from Europe – Europeans. We show that there is a persistent relationship between the share of Europeans in a society and its regime type. We conjecture that this is because Europeans viewed democracy as a basic right – for themselves. It was a club that produced club goods (excludable goods such as property rights and civil liberties). Hence, where Europeans were in the majority they were democrats. Where they were the minority they were indifferent or hostile, or they embraced a restricted form of democracy that excluded non-Europeans. And where Europeans were entirely absent there was no one – at least initially – to carry the democratic torch. To test this argument we assemble an original dataset measuring the diffusion of Europeans across the world from 1600 to the present. This is employed to predict democracy in a series of analyses that focus on various indicators of democracy and a variety of samples, specifications, time-periods, and estimators, including fixed effects and instrumental variables. The evidence offers strong support for the thesis.
Election fraud, digit tests and how humans fabricate vote counts - An experimental approach
Verena Mack Risk & Lukas Stoetzer
Electoral Studies, forthcoming
The Last Digit test is a notable method to detect election fraud. It is based on an assumption that a manipulator replaces the vote counts of an election result sheet with man-made numbers, but will fail to make the numbers look random. Allegations of election fraud are based on this mechanism, but the strategic behaviour of humans when manipulating election results could make it difficult to detect fraudulent activities. This paper is the first to use a laboratory experiment to evaluate the ability of the Last Digit test to detect human manipulation of election results. Only a small share of participants’ manipulations are detected by the Last Digit test. The small sensitivity is due to the strategic behaviour of participants. Participants in the experiment manipulate as few polling stations as necessary to reach their manipulation aim, manipulate leading digits when the requested intensity of fraud is extremely high, and use alternative strategies that are difficult to detect using the test. The analysis of the experiment further shows that only if participants alter a substantial share of last digits in the experiment the test indicates fraudulent activities.
The Psychology of State Repression: Fear and Dissent Decisions in Zimbabwe
American Political Science Review, forthcoming
Many authoritarian regimes use frightening acts of repression to suppress dissent. Theory from psychology suggests that emotions should affect how citizens perceive and process information about repression risk and ultimately whether or not they dissent. I test the effects of emotions on dissent in autocracy by running a lab-in-the-field experiment with 671 opposition supporters in Zimbabwe that randomly assigns some participants to an exercise that induces a mild state of fear, whereas others complete a neutral placebo. The fear treatment significantly reduces hypothetical and behavioral measures of dissent by substantively large amounts. It also increases pessimism about parameters that enter into the dissent decision as well as risk aversion. These results show that emotions interact in important ways with strategic considerations. Fear may be a powerful component of how unpopular autocrats exclude large portions of their populations from mobilizing for regime change.
Democracy Misunderstood: Authoritarian Notions of Democracy around the Globe
Helen Kirsch & Christian Welzel
Social Forces, forthcoming
An intriguing phenomenon consists in the fact that widespread support for democracy coexists in many countries with the persistent absence of democracy itself. Addressing this phenomenon, we show that in most places where it exists people understand democracy in ambiguous ways, such that “authoritarian” notions of what democracy means mix with — and even overshadow — liberal notions, in spite of the contradiction between these two notions. Underlining this contradiction, our evidence shows that authoritarian notions of democracy question the authenticity of liberal notions when both are endorsed conjointly. Worse, the evidence further suggests that authoritarian notions reverse the whole meaning of support for democracy, indeed indicating support for autocracy instead. Arguably, this reversal in the meaning of support for democracy lends legitimacy to authoritarian rule, which helps to explain where autocracy endures. Testing alternative explanations of authoritarian notions of democracy, we find that emancipative values are most influential, exerting a two-fold “enlightening” effect in (a) making people recognize the contradiction between liberal and authoritarian notions of democracy and (b) turning them against authoritarian notions. In a nutshell, the prospects of democracy are bleak where emancipative values remain weak.
Inequality and Political Trust in China: The Social Volcano Thesis Re-examined
Yingnan Joseph Zhou & Shuai Jin
China Quarterly, December 2018, Pages 1033-1062
The social volcano thesis states that the rising inequality in China threatens regime stability. This idea, although widely held in the media and in academia, is backed by little positive evidence but by much negative evidence. Two primary pieces of negative evidence are that the Chinese people trust the central government and that they are highly tolerant of inequality. This paper discusses the shortcomings of the negative evidence and re-examines the thesis in a rigorous and direct way. Our multilevel analysis shows that provincial inequality has negative effects on individuals’ trust in the local government but not in the central government, and this negative effect holds for both the rich and the poor. Because distrust in the local government implies distrust in the central government, we conclude that a social volcano exists.
Erasing Ethnicity? Propaganda, Nation Building and Identity in Rwanda
Arthur Thomas Blouin & Sharun Mukand
Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming
This paper examines whether propaganda broadcast over radio helped to promote nation building and to change inter-ethnic attitudes in post-genocide Rwanda. We exploit variation in exposure to the government’s radio propaganda due to the mountainous topography of Rwanda to investigate possible shifts in ethnic salience, cooperation and inter-ethnic trust. Results of lab-in-the-field experiments show that individuals exposed to government propaganda have lower salience of ethnicity, increased inter-ethnic trust and show more willingness to interact face-to-face with members of another ethnic group. Our results suggest that the observed improvement in inter-ethnic behavior is not cosmetic, and reflects a deeper change in inter-ethnic attitudes. The findings provide some of the first evidence suggesting that the salience of ethnic identity is a socio-political construct that can be manipulated by governments.
Launching Revolution: Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising’s First Movers
Killian Clarke & Korhan Kocak
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming
Drawing on evidence from the 2011 Egyptian uprising, this article demonstrates how the use of two social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – contributed to a discrete mobilizational outcome: the staging of a successful first protest in a revolutionary cascade, referred to here as ‘first-mover mobilization’. Specifically, it argues that these two platforms facilitated the staging of a large, nationwide and seemingly leaderless protest on 25 January 2011, which signaled to hesitant but sympathetic Egyptians that a revolution might be in the making. It draws on qualitative and quantitative evidence, including interviews, social media data and surveys, to analyze three mechanisms that linked these platforms to the success of the January 25 protest: (1) protester recruitment, (2) protest planning and coordination, and (3) live updating about protest logistics. The article not only contributes to debates about the role of the Internet in the Arab Spring and other recent waves of mobilization, but also demonstrates how scholarship on the Internet in politics might move toward making more discrete, empirically grounded causal claims.
Why Democracy Protests Do Not Diffuse
Dawn Brancati & Adrián Lucardi
Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming
One of the primary international factors proposed to explain the geographic and temporal clustering of democracy is the diffusion of democracy protests. Democracy protests are thought to diffuse across countries, primarily, through a demonstration effect, whereby protests in one country cause protests in another based on the positive information that they convey about the likelihood of successful protests elsewhere and, secondarily, through the actions of transnational activists. In contrast to this view, we argue that, in general, democracy protests are not likely to diffuse across countries because the motivation for and the outcome of democracy protests result from domestic processes that are unaffected or undermined by the occurrence of democracy protests in other countries. Our statistical analysis supports this argument. Using daily data on the onset of democracy protests around the world between 1989 and 2011, we find that in this period, democracy protests were not significantly more likely to occur in countries when democracy protests had occurred in neighboring countries, either in general or in ways consistent with the expectations of diffusion arguments.
Preventive Repression: Two Types of Moral Hazard
Tiberiu Dragu & Adam Przeworski
American Political Science Review, forthcoming
Authoritarian leaders maintain their grip on power primarily through preventive repression, routinely exercised by specialized security agencies with the aim of preventing any opponents from organizing and threatening their power. We develop a formal model to analyze the moral hazard problems inherent in the principal-agent relationship between rulers and their security agents in charge of preventive repression. The model distinguishes two types of moral hazard: “politics,” through which the security agents can exert political influence to increase their payoff by decreasing the ruler’s rents from power, and “corruption,” through which the agents can increase their payoff by engaging in rent-seeking activities that do not decrease the ruler’s rents from power. The surprising conclusion is that both the ruler and the security agent are better off when the only moral hazard problem available is politics rather than when the agent can choose between politics and corruption. We also show that the equilibrium probability of ruler’s survival in power is higher when politics is the only moral hazard available to the agent. These findings lead to our central conclusion that opportunities for corruption undermine authoritarian rule by distorting the incentives of the security agencies tasked with preventing potential threats to an authoritarian ruler’s grip on power.
Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds: Rebel Funding Sources and the Use of Terrorism in Civil Wars
Virginia Page Fortna, Nicholas Lotito & Michael Rubin
International Studies Quarterly, December 2018, Pages 782–794
Why do some rebel groups resort to terrorism tactics while others refrain from doing so? How rebel organizations finance their rebellion creates variation in the extent to which terrorism undermines their legitimacy. Rebel organizations pay attention to the legitimacy costs associated with terrorism. Organizations that rely primarily on civilian support, and to a lesser extent on foreign support, exercise more restraint in their use of terrorism. Rebels who finance their fight with lootable resources such as gems or drugs are least vulnerable to the costs of alienating domestic supporters. Thus, they are more likely to resort to terrorism and to employ more of it. The article elaborates this legitimacy-cost theory and tests it using new data on Terrorism in Armed Conflict from 1970 to 2007. We find robust support for the hypothesis that groups who finance their fight with natural resources are significantly more likely to employ terrorism (though not necessarily to conduct more deadly attacks) relative to those who rely on local civilian support. Groups with external sources of financing, such as foreign state support, may be more likely to engage in terrorism than those who rely on local civilians, but not significantly so.
Adviser to The King: Experts, Rationalization, and Legitimacy
World Politics, forthcoming
Do experts rationalize and legitimize authoritarian governance? Although research on expert actors in contexts of democracy and international governance is now extensive, scholarly work on their role in authoritarian settings remains limited. This article helps open the black box of authoritarian decision-making by investigating expert advisers in the Arab Gulf monarchies, where ruling elites have enlisted them from top universities and global consulting firms. Qualitative fieldwork combined with three experiments casts doubt on both the rationalization and legitimacy hypotheses and also generates new insights surrounding unintended consequences. On rationalization, the evidence suggests that experts contribute to perverse cycles of overconfidence among authoritarian ruling elites, thereby enabling a belief in state-building shortcuts. On legitimacy, the experiments demonstrate a backfire effect, with experts reducing public support for reform. The author makes theoretical contributions by suggesting important and heretofore unrecognized conflicts and trade-offs across experts’ potential for rationalizing vis-à-vis legitimizing.