Please contact me if you are interested in one of the working papers listed here.
“Clientelistic Politics and Foreign Land Acquisition in Developing Countries”
Abstract: The large-scale acquisition of land by foreign investors has grown at an unprecedented rate in developing countries since 2000. Fueled by rising commodity prices, this form of investment marks an important policy shift among developing countries, many of which had historically discouraged or prohibited the acquisition of land by non-citizens. It remains unclear why the governments of some countries have permitted the growth of such investment while others have not. Cross-national studies have emphasized the influence of land endowments and land tenure in attracting foreign investors. Far less is known, however, about the politics affecting the foreign acquisition of land. This paper explains how the prevalence of clientelistic politics in developing countries has encouraged their governments to facilitate this form of foreign investment. Using a cross-national dataset of developing countries, the paper employs logistic regression analysis to demonstrate that countries with a larger number of cabinet ministers, a proxy for the size of clientelistic coalitions in government, are more likely to permit foreign land acquisition. The findings of this paper have implications for future studies concerning the relationship between investment and inequality in developing countries.
“Combating Corruption in African Countries: Foreign Creditors and Domestic Institutions” (with Fiona Shen-Bayh, UC Berkeley)
Abstract: This paper examines institutional efforts to combat corruption in sub-Saharan African countries. Although many governments have adopted measures to investigate and prosecute malfeasance by public officials, there remains considerable cross-national variation in institutional responses to high-level corruption. Under what conditions have governments established anti-corruption agencies? What impact have such agencies had on the prevalence of corruption? In addressing such questions, we argue that the origin of anti-corruption agencies ultimately undermined their purpose in African countries. Because governments established agencies to address the concerns of foreign creditors, principally multilateral institutions and Western donors, these agencies have been largely detached from domestic constituencies that might have otherwise demanded results. Moreover, since anti-corruption agencies are tangential to the primary interests of multilateral institutions, they have had little incentive to consistently ensure that agencies fulfill their mandates in practice. We assess these claims by analyzing original cross-national time-series data. Our findings show that anti-corruption agencies were established more rapidly in countries with greater debt service obligations, regardless of domestic political or economic conditions. We further show that anti-corruption agencies have had a negative effect on corruption: perceived levels have grown faster in countries that established agencies early on to satisfy foreign creditors.
“Cooptation and Fragmentation in African Party Systems”
Abstract: How does the distribution of patronage influence the nature of party systems in Africa? I argue that executives strategically rotate ministerial appointments to signal the likelihood that they will invite opposition politicians into government. This results in greater party fragmentation as opposition politicians respond to the executive’s co-optation signal by seeking office independently rather than coalescing through established parties. Employing original data on the ministerial cabinet in 36 African countries, I demonstrate that the patronage hypothesis explains a larger share of variation in African party systems than either electoral institutions or social cleavages. A greater rate of pre-electoral cabinet reshuffling is associated with a larger effective number of presidential candidates as well as a larger effective number of legislative parties.
“Electoral Violence in Democratizing States” (with Chelsea Johnson, UC Berkeley)
Abstract: Although one in five elections around the world has been marred by physical violence since the third wave of democratization, scholars have yet to systematically investigate these cross-national patterns or to identify the sources of variation. This article examines the relationship between patronage politics and electoral violence in unconsolidated democracies — the set of countries most susceptible to such violence. Despite the adoption of formal democratic institutions in these countries, patronage continues to serve as an informal mechanism for accommodating the demands of political and economic elites. Drawing on an original cross-national dataset of electoral violence from 1985 to 2005, the authors show that the corruption associated with patronage politics can inhibit the onset of electoral violence in unconsolidated democracies. The authors find that corruption has a greater impact on the likelihood of electoral violence than either the institutional or sociological factors commonly cited in the extant literature.
“Economic Rights and Women's Policy Influence in Africa: Portfolio Allocation across Executive Cabinets” (with Martha C. Johnson, Mills College)
Abstract: While a growing number of women are becoming cabinet ministers in African governments, there is considerable cross-national variation in the extent to which women exercise influence across policy domains. We argue that this variation is the result of enduring national differences in women’s economic rights. Where women are legally subject to male authority in accessing economic resources, they are less able to build the political capital needed to compete for leadership positions in clientelistic political systems. Using an original dataset on the allocation of ministerial portfolios in 38 African countries, we show that women have less diversified policy portfolios and are less likely to be appointed to high prestige portfolios in countries where they face greater legal economic discrimination. Our results are robust to controlling for relevant factors such as female labor force participation, legislative quotas, and customary law.
“The Political Economy of Localized Communal Conflicts in Ethiopia” (with Lahra Smith, Georgetown)
Abstract: Under what conditions will communal violence erupt between ethnic groups? We assess competing hypotheses that attribute such conflicts to institutional, cultural, and resource factors in the context of Ethiopia. We argue that communal conflicts in countries like Ethiopia are not merely the product of ethnically organized competition over resources, but that they are also significantly shaped by state capacity. Using an original district-level database of communal conflicts from across the country, we show that conflicts are more likely to erupt in districts at a greater distance from the national capital, which we use as a proxy for state capacity and political monitoring. We also show, contrary to conventional expectations, that conflicts are more likely to occur in districts with greater rather than fewer resources. We find no systematic effect for the ameliorative impact of public goods provision or for the negative impact of contentious border demarcation. We conclude by proposing a research strategy for conducting case studies of selected districts that vary in their propensity for communal violence despite sharing comparable background conditions.
“Suppressing Protest: The Geographic Logic of Mass Arrests”
Abstract: How do authoritarian governments respond to the threat of opposition protest after disputed election results? The literature on state repression has long shown that governments use coercion to suppress protests that threaten the political status quo. It remains unclear, however, whether governments seek to maximize the impact of repression by imposing sanctions indiscriminately, stoking general terror to induce acquiescence, or by targeting sanctions against those most likely to challenge the government. This paper contributes to the study of electoral authoritarian regimes by examining how the Ethiopian government responded to opposition protests that erupted in the national capital after disputed election results in 2005. Based on an analysis of nearly 15,000 protest-related arrest records, the paper shows that the Ethiopian government sought to suppress protest through a strategy of geographic targeting, detaining young men mainly residing near the executive office. Distance from the executive office alone can explain nearly a third of the variation in neighborhood arrest rates, while factors such as the intensity of protest, the location of opposition leader arrests, and the location of police stations are found to have no impact on neighborhood arrest rates.