Publications

Working Paper
Phillip Johnson, Edward Leamer, and Jeffrey Leitzinger. Working Paper. “"Statistical Significance and Statistical Error in Antitrust Analysis."”.Abstract
Against that backdrop, a successful price-fixing conspiracy may not lead to observable price increases but only slow their rate of decline. [...]proof of impact and estimation of damages often amounts to sorting out the effects on market outcomes of illegal behavior from the effects of other market supply and demand factors. [...]proponents of statistical significance thresholds argue that the economics profession treats stringent levels of statistical significance as a necessary element for purposes of accepting regression-based results as valid, and that legal rules associated with expert evidence should require nothing less. There is growing awareness within the economics and statistics professions that conventional significance thresholds have little real claim to act as standards to legitimize regression results, despite the widespread attention they receive.2 Moreover, the evidentiary thresholds associated with proof of impact and estimation of damages in an antitrust case may differ from the confidence thresholds implicit in conventional significance measures. [...]the time is ripe to fully examine the underlying issues. The damage award that minimizes the expected social costs of error under each of the two evidentiary burdens is the amount (on the horizontal axis) corresponding to the intersection of the cumulative probability curve associated with the evidence and the bold horizontal line that represents that burden. [...]those results should not be excluded from the analysis or simply treated as equivalent to a finding of zero damages.
johnsonetal2017.pdf
Pedro Bordalo, Katherine Coffman, Nicola Gennaioli, and Andrei Shleifer. Working Paper. “Stereotypes”.Abstract

We present a model of stereotypes based on Kahneman and Tversky’s representativeness heuristic. A decision maker assesses a target group by overweighting its representative types, defined as the types that occur more frequently in that group than in a baseline reference group. Stereotypes formed in this way contain a “kernel of truth”: they are rooted in true differences between groups. Because stereotypes focus on differences, they cause belief distortions, particularly when groups are similar. Stereotypes are also context dependent: beliefs about a group depend on the characteristics of the reference group. In  line with our predictions, beliefs in the lab about abstract groups and beliefs in the field about political groups are context dependent and distorted in the direction of representative types.

bordaloetal2016.pdf
Francisco Costa, Angelo Marcantonio, and Rudi Rocha. Working Paper. “Stop Suffering! Economic Downturns and Pentecostal Upsurge”.Abstract
This paper estimates the effects of economic downturns on religious conversion to Pentecostal Evangelicalism across Brazilian regions between 1991 and 2010. We find that regions more exposed to economic distress experienced an increase in Pentecostal affiliation during the 1990s, accompanied by a decrease in adherents to other Christian denominations. Our estimates show that this conversion persisted over the following decade. We also show that economic downturns are associated with the growth in the vote share of candidates explicitly connected to Pentecostal churches in national elections in both the short and long run. These results uncover a causal link between economic distress and the political entrenchment of more fundamentalist religious groups in a secular democracy.
costaetal2018.pdf
Mischa Karplus. Working Paper. Substantive Rights Protected By International Human Rights Instruments (ICCPR, ACHR, ECHR, ACHPR*).Abstract

List of substantive rights protected by international human rights instruments (ICCPR, ACHR, ECHR, ACHPR*)

rights_protected_by_international_legal_instruments.pdf
Working Paper. Substantive Rights Protected by International Human Rights Instruments (ICCPR, ACHR, ECHR, ACHPR*). Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School.Abstract

This working paper explores specific articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), and African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). The following chart examines which articles in these international instruments protect different human rights. 

rights_protected_by_international_legal_instruments.pdf
Elena Nikolova and Milena Nikolova. Working Paper. “"Suffrage, Labour Markets, and Coalitions in Colonial Virginia"”.Abstract

We study Virginia’s suffrage from the early 17th century until the American Revolution using an analytical narrative and econometric analysis of unique data on franchise restrictions. First, we hold that suffrage changes reflected labour market dynamics. Indeed, Virginia’s liberal institutions initially served to attract indentured servants from England needed in the labour-intensive tobacco farming but deteriorated once worker demand subsided and planters replaced white workers with slaves. Second, we argue that Virginia’s suffrage was also the result of political bargaining influenced by shifting societal coalitions. We show that new politically influential coalitions of freemen and then of small and large slave-holding farmers emerged in the second half of the 17th and early 18th centuries, respectively. These coalitions were instrumental in reversing the earlier democratic institutions. Our main contribution stems from integrating the labour markets and bargaining/coalitions arguments, thus proving a novel theoretical and empirical explanation for institutional change.

nikolovanikolova2016.pdf
Bjorn Kauder and Niklas Potrafke. Working Paper. “"Supermajorities and Political Rent Extraction"”.Abstract

Models of political competition portray political candidates as seeking the support of the median voter to win elections by majority voting. In practice, political candidates seek supermajorities rather than majorities based on support of the median voter. We study the political benefits from supermajorities using data from Bavaria, the largest German state. Members of the Bavarian parliament had been permitted to hire relatives as office employees but in the year 2000 the practice was prohibited, with exceptions that allowed continuation of employment of previously hired relatives. The circumstances provide an informative setting to relate political behavior to protection of incumbency. Our results show that the likelihood of politicians to hire relatives increased with the margin of the majority for the incumbent in the previous election. When the majority increased by one percentage point, the likelihood of hiring relatives increased by about one percentage point. Supermajorities thus facilitated political rent extraction.

kauderpotrafke2015.pdf
Vivekinan Ashok, Ilyana Kuziemko, and Ebonya Washington. Working Paper. “"Support for Redistribution in an Age of Rise Inequality: New Stylized Facts and Some Tentative Explanations"”.Abstract

Despite the large increases in economic inequality since 1970, American survey respondents exhibit no increase in support for redistribution, in contrast to the predictions from standard theories of redistributive preferences. We replicate these results but further demonstrate substantial heterogeneity by demographic
groups. In particular, the two groups who have most moved against income redistribution are the elderly and African-Americans. We find little evidence that these subgroup trends are explained by relative economic gains or growing cultural conservatism, two common explanations. We further show that the elderly trend is uniquely American, at least relative to other developed countries with comparable survey data. While we are unable to provide definitive evidence on the cause of these two groups' declining redistributive support, we offer additional correlations which may offer fruitful directions for future research on the topic. One story consistent with the data on elderly trends is that older Americans worry that redistribution will come at their expense, in particular via cuts to Medicare. We find that the elderly have grown increasingly opposed to government provision of health insurance and that controlling for this tendency explains about 40% of their declining support for redistribution. For blacks,
controlling for their declining support of race-targeted aid explains nearly 45% of their differential decline in redistributive preferences (raising the question of why support for race-targeted aid has fallen during a period when black economic catch-up to whites has stalled).

ashoketal2015.pdf
Xiangjun Ma and John McLaren. Working Paper. “A Swing-State Theorem, with Evidence”.Abstract
We study the effects of local partisanship in a model of electoral competition. Voters care about policy, but they also care about the identity of the party in power. These party preferences vary from person to person, but they are also correlated within each state. As a result, most states are biassed toward one party or the other (in popular parlance, most states are either ‘red’ or ‘blue’). We show that, under a large portion of the parameter space, electoral competition leads to maximization of welfare with an extra weight on citizens of the ‘swing state:’ the one that is not biassed toward either party. The theory applies to all areas of policy, but since import tariffs are well-measured they allow a clean test. We show empirically that the US tariff structure is systematically biassed toward industries located in swing states, after controlling for other factors. Our best estimate is that the US political process treats a voter living in a non-swing state as being worth 77% as much as a voter in a swing state. This represents a policy bias orders of magnitude greater than the bias found in studies of protection for sale.
mamclaren2018.pdf
Andrew J. Clarke, Jeffery A. Jenkins, and Kenneth S. Lowande. Working Paper. “"Tariff Politics and Congressional Elections: Exploring the Cannon Thesis"”.Abstract
While a number of studies have examined the politics of tariff decision-making in the United States, little work has examined the subsequent political effects of tariff policy. We help fill this gap in the literature by analyzing—both theoretically and empirically—the electoral implications of tariff revision. Specifically, we investigate the veracity of the Cannon Thesis—the proposition advanced by Speaker Joe Cannon in 1910 that the majority party in the U.S. House was punished when it made major revisions to the tariff. We find that from 1877 to 1934 major tariff revisions were, on average, associated with a significant loss of votes for majority-party members—both regionally and nationally—that translated into a loss of House seats. We find support for the notion that major tariff revisions generated inordinate uncertainty among various business interests, which the opposition party could then use (by leveraging fear and market instability) to mobilize its base and gain ground in the following election. Our results provide a new explanation for the delegation of tariff policymaking to the executive branch.
clarkeetal2016.pdf
Thiemo Fetzer and Carlo Schwarz. Working Paper. “Tariffs and Politics: Evidence from Trump's Trade Wars”.Abstract
Are retaliatiory tariffs politically targeted and, if so, are they effective? Do countries designing a retaliation response face a trade-off between maximizing political targeting and mitigating domestic economic harm? We use the recent trade escalation between the US, China, the European Union (EU) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries to answer these questions. We find substantial evidence that retaliation was directly targeted to areas that swung to Donald Trump in 2016 (but not to other Republican
candidates running for office in the same year). We further assess whether retaliation was optimally chosen using a novel simulation approach constructing counterfactual retaliation responses. For China and particularly, for Mexico and Canada, the chosen retaliation appears suboptimal: there exist alternative retaliation bundles that would have produced a higher degree of political targeting, while posing a lower risk to damage the own economy. We further present evidence that retaliatory tariffs do produce economic shocks: US
exports on goods subject to retaliation declined by up to USD 15.28 billion in 2018 and export prices have dropped significantly. Lastly, we find some evidence suggesting that retaliation is effective: in areas exposed to retaliation Republican candidates fared worse in the 2018 Midterm elections, and similarly Presidential approval ratings, especially among Democrats, have declined.
fetzerschwarz2019.pdf
Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini, Raymond Fisman, and Francesco Trebbi. Working Paper. “"Tax-Exempt Lobbying: Corporate Philanthropy as a Tool for Political Influence”.Abstract
We explore the role of charitable giving as a means of political influence, a channel that has been heretofore unexplored in the political economy literature. For philanthropic foundations associated with Fortune 500 and S&P500 corporations, we show that grants given to charitable organizations located in a congressional district increase when its representative obtains seats on committees that are of policy relevance to the firm associated with the foundation. This pattern parallels that of publicly disclosed Political Action Committee (PAC) spending. As further evidence on firms’ political motivations for charitable giving, we show that a member of Congress’s departure leads to a short-term decline in charitable giving to his district, and we again observe similar patterns in PAC spending. Charities directly linked to politicians through personal financial disclosure forms filed in accordance to Ethics in Government Act requirements exhibit similar patterns of political dependence. Our analysis suggests that firms deploy their charitable foundations as a form of tax-exempt influence seeking. Based on a straightforward model of political influence, our estimates imply that 7.1 percent of total U.S. corporate charitable giving is politically motivated, an amount that is economically significant: it is 280 percent larger than annual PAC contributions and about 40 percent of total federal lobbying expenditures. Given the lack of formal electoral or regulatory disclosure requirements, charitable giving may be a form of political influence that goes mostly undetected by voters and shareholders, and which is directly subsidized by taxpayers.
bertrandetal2018.pdf
Reka Juhasz. Working Paper. “"Temporary Protection and Technology Adoption: Evidence from the Napoleonic Blockade"”.Abstract

This paper uses a natural experiment to assess whether temporary protection from trade with industrial leaders can foster development of infant industries in follower countries. Using a new dataset compiled from primary sources, I find that in the short-run regions (départements) in the French Empire which became better protected from trade with the British for exogenous reasons during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-15) increased capacity in a new technology, mechanised cotton spinning, to a larger extent than regions which remained more exposed to trade. Temporary protection had long term effects. In particular, by exploiting the fact that the post-war location of the cotton industry was determined to a large extent by the historical accident of the wars, I first show that the location of cotton spinning within France was persistent, and firms located in regions with higher post-war spinning capacity were more productive 30 years later. Second, I find that after the restoration of peace, exports of cotton goods from France increased substantially, consistent with evolving comparative advantage in cottons. Third, I show that as late as 1850, France and Belgium - both part of the French Empire prior to 1815 - had larger cotton spinning industries than other Continental European countries which were not protected from British trade during the wars; this suggests that adoption of the new technology was far from inevitable.

juhasz2014.pdf
Brendan Nyhan and M. Marit Rehavi. Working Paper. “"Tipping the Scales? Testing for Political Influence on Public Corruption Prosecutions"”.Abstract

Political ties and the need to cultivate support for nominations to higher office create a conflict of interest for U.S. attorneys and the prosecutors they supervise in cases involving the two major parties. We find evidence of partisan differences in the timing of public corruption case filings. Relative to the president’s co-partisans, opposition party defendants are more likely to be charged immediately before an election than afterward. We find a corresponding decrease in case duration before elections for opposition partisans, suggesting prosecutors are moving more quickly to file cases. These timing differences are associated with greater promotion rates to the federal bench (for U.S. attorneys) and to U.S. attorney (for assistant U.S. attorneys). However, prosecutors do not appear to bring weaker cases against opposition defendants before elections; we find no measurable difference in conviction rates and actually show that co-partisans received less favorable treatment in plea bargains and sentencing until recently.

nyhanrehavi2015.pdf
Evgeny Finkel and Scott Gehlbach. Working Paper. “The Tocqueville Paradox: When Does Reform Provoke Rebellion?”.Abstract
We analyze a model of reform and rebellion to explore Alexis de Tocqueville's conjecture that reform provokes political unrest. Our theory emphasizes the role of reform in determining expressive motivations to rebel through two forms of reference dependence: reform reduces grievances to the extent that its implementation improves on the status quo, but it also raises expectations that contribute to grievances when reform is implemented by local agents with a stake in the status quo. When reform is predominantly locally implemented and state capacity is weak, a more ambitious reform leads to greater concessions by local elites; nonetheless, the equilibrium probability of rebellion also increases. This tradeoff is robust to assuming that citizens are motivated by instrumental as well as expressive concerns and to the presence of strategic complementarities across localities. We illustrate our results with a discussion of Russia's Emancipation Reform of 1861.
finkelgehlbach2018_rev.pdf
Gojko Barjamovic, Thomas Chaney, Kerem A. Cosar, and Ali Hortacsu. Working Paper. “"Trade, Merchants, and the Lost Cities of the Bronze Age"”.Abstract
We analyze a large dataset of commercial records produced by Assyrian merchants in the 19th Century BCE. Using the information collected from these records, we estimate a structural gravity model of long-distance trade in the Bronze Age. We use our structural gravity model to locate lost ancient cities. In many instances, our structural estimates confirm the conjectures of historians who follow different methodologies. In some instances, our estimates confirm one conjecture against others. Confronting our structural estimates for ancient city sizes to modern data on population, income, and regional trade, we document persistent patterns in the distribution of city sizes across four millennia, even after controlling for time-invariant geographic attributes such as agricultural suitability. Finally, we offer evidence in support of the hypothesis that large cities tend to emerge at the intersections of natural transport routes, as dictated by topography.
barjamovicetal2017.pdf
Italo Colantone and Piero Stanig. Working Paper. “"The Trade Origins of Economic Nationalism: Import Competition and Voting Behavior in Western Europe."”.Abstract

We investigate the impact of globalization on electoral outcomes in fifteen Western European countries, over 1988-2007. We employ both official election results at the district level and individual-level voting data, combined with party ideology scores from the ComparativeManifesto Project. We compute a region-specific measure of exposure to Chinese imports, based on the historical industry specialization of each region. To identify the causal impact of the import shock, we instrument imports to Europe using Chinese imports to the United States. At the district level, a stronger import shock leads to: (1) an increase in support for nationalist parties; (2) a general shift to the right in the electorate; and (3) an increase in support for radical right parties. These results are confirmed by the analysis of individual-level vote choices. In addition, we find evidence that voters respond to the shock in a sociotropic way.

colantonestanig2017.pdf
Leo Feler and Mine Z. Senses. Working Paper. “"Trade Shocks and the Provision of Local Public Goods."”.Abstract
We analyze the impact of trade-induced income shocks on the size of local government and the provision of public services. Areas in the US with declining labor demand and incomes due to increasing import competition from China experience relative declines in housing prices and business activity. Since local governments are disproportionately funded through property and sales taxation, declining property values and a decrease in economic activity translate into less revenue, which constrains the ability of local governments to provide public services. State and federal governments have limited ability to smooth local shocks, and the impact on the provision of public services is compounded when local income shocks are highly correlated with shocks in the rest of
the state. The outcome is a relative decline not only in incomes but also in the quality of public services and amenities in trade exposed localities.
felersenses2016.pdf
Bryan Schonfeld. Working Paper. “"Trading Places, Trading Platforms: The Geography of Realignment."”.Abstract
In advanced democracies with plurality electoral systems, formerly pro-trade Right parties have become proponents of protectionism, while previously protectionist Left parties are now championing free trade. This “partisan realignment” has been accompanied by a “voter realignment,” as educated voters who once supported Right parties now vote overwhelmingly for the Left. I explain these puzzling realignments by developing a formal theory linking political and economic geography. In advanced plurality countries, Left parties control high-density electorates, while Right parties are responsive to low-density constituencies. Employing a spatial equilibrium model from Economic Geography, I demonstrate that trade exposure (and technology) causes skilled workers to sort into high-density areas in pursuit of higher wages, while unskilled workers move towards low-density areas in search of a lower cost of living (“skill-sorting”). As skilled workers sort into high-density districts, Left incumbents choose more pro-trade platforms, while Right platforms increasingly endorse protectionism, yielding a “partisan realignment” on trade. Due to changing party platforms, educated voters increasingly vote for the Left, and uneducated voters defect to the Right, resulting in a “voter realignment” as well. I conclude by finding strong evidence for the mechanisms of my theory. 
schonfeld2018.pdf
Mischa Karplus. Working Paper. UN Handbook on Legislation v. Istanbul - Cover. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School.Abstract

Briefly details differences between the UN Handbook on Legislation and the Istanbul Convention.

un_handbook_v_istanbul_cover.pdf

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