Woodrow Wilson

Department of Politics

2018-2019 Speaker Series

Presenter Name: 
Ariel Dinar
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy, University of California Riverside
Title of talk: 
Why are there so Few Basin-wide Treaties?
Abstract/Description: 
Examinations of international water treaties suggest that riparian states are not heeding the advice for Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). Theories suggest that the larger the number of negotiating states, the lower the cost of the joint operation of treaties, but the transaction cost of negotiating and maintaining large-N treaties increases. We model the trade-off between benefits and costs associated with the number of treaty signatories and apply it to a global International-water treaty dataset. Findings confirm that the transaction cost of negotiation and the economies of scale of benefits are important in determining the paucity of basin-wide agreements, the treaty contents, and its extent.
Date and Time: 
Monday, February 11, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Michael Ross
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Professor, University of California Los Angeles
Title of talk: 
The Four Worlds of Carbon Politics
Date and Time: 
Monday, March 4, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Kevin Cope
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Associate Professor of Law, University of Virginia
Title of talk: 
Making Treaties
Abstract/Description: 
Multilateral treaties’ success depends in large part on decisions made during their drafting and negotiations. Lack of support from key states, weak or non-binding commitments, and sweeping reservations often doom treaties to ineffectiveness or worse. Challenges to treaty effectiveness have inspired significant bodies of research in international law and relations. Yet existing research in these fields has given little systematic attention to negotiations or to the political origins of treaties generally. This manuscript aims to improve our understanding of treaty-making through both theory development and empirical analysis. I first develop a positive decision-theoretical model of the factors that states consider in drafting, negotiating, approving, and ratifying multilateral treaties. The model takes account of states’ right to opt-out of a treaty and that right’s several implications: that treaty-making entails a three-stage decisional process unique in democratic lawmaking, and that treaty externalities and the quantity and character of future members both affect states’ decisional logic during negotiations. These phenomena have not been fully appreciated in either the legal or international relations literatures, much less formally theorized. I then apply these insights to analyze real-world drafting efforts. Using a novel technique, I code the drafting states’ recorded positions based on two treaties’ negotiating histories, and I use them to estimate states’ ideal points on multiple issues. My findings demonstrate that this method can predict states’ ratifications and reservations with considerable accuracy. The analysis provides new insights into how international law is created and implemented, and under what circumstances it meaningfully affects later state behaviors. Specifically, the issues that divide states differ across treaties, and I find evidence that states’ preferences for particular treaty provisions coincide with those we would expect of utility-maximizing states. That the state positions predict subsequent behavior implies that treaty negotiations yield a rich trove of relatively authentic revealed state preferences. That suggests that, in addition to fueling theory and data-generation, these methods and the insights they provide could also be used to aid ongoing treaty negotiations in the future.
Date and Time: 
Monday, March 18, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Shiran Victoria Shen
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor of Environmental Politics, University of Virginia
Title of talk: 
Dirty Politics: Electoral Pollution Cycles in Mexico
Abstract/Description: 
Does electoral accountability harm voters? Air pollution is an invisible killer that claims more than 5.5 million lives annually worldwide. In this paper, we study the effect of electoral incentives on a critical public goods provision — air quality. Building upon the theory of the political pollution cycle (Shen 2018), we find that local politicians in Mexico will accommodate the preferences of their constituencies by engaging in activities that have short-term electoral and economic returns but would generate pollution unintentionally, imposing negative health consequences for the public. We leverage the exogenous variation in electoral timing in Mexican states and municipalities and measure its effect on pollution levels. Our paper contributes to the study of electoral incentives in young, unconsolidated democracies. It also sheds light on how voters fail to internalize the tradeoff between economic growth and environmental quality.
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 1, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Abby Fanlo and Lauren Sukin
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Department of Political Science, Stanford University
Title of talk: 
The Illogic of Nuclear Superiority: A Review Essay
Abstract/Description: 
How does the size of a state’s nuclear arsenal affect the likelihood that the state achieves its goals in an international crisis? Most scholars of this question have argued that having large nuclear arsenals does not especially benefit states in crisis situations. Matthew Kroenig’s The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy (2018) argues that states possessing a larger nuclear arsenal than a crisis opponent will emerge victorious more often. As a result, Kroenig’s book is an important and direct contrast to existing scholarship. If Kroenig’s argument is correct, policymakers should pursue larger nuclear arsenals, even though doing so could potentially trigger dangerous arms races. However, in a detailed reconsideration of Kroenig’s approach, we reaffirm the conventional wisdom that nuclear superiority does not generally determine crisis outcomes. This review essay identifies central concerns with the construction of Kroenig’s argument, including both the logic he uses to argue nuclear superiority confers advantages and his operationalization of superiority. We then utilize alternative methodological techniques to more accurately test the effect of superiority on crisis outcomes, concluding that Kroenig’s findings are flawed.
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 8, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
John Marshall
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Columbia University
Title of talk: 
Information Saturation and Electoral Accountability: Experimental Evidence from Facebook in Mexico
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 15, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Valerie Karplus
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Title of talk: 
Smoke and Mirrors: Did China's Environmental Crackdowns Lead to Persistent Changes in Polluting Firm Behavior?
Abstract/Description: 
Sharp, short-lived increases in rule enforcement are common in hierarchical organizations facing multiple objectives. Using data from China that links quasi-random variation in the intensity of environmental policing to high-frequency air pollution data, we show that crackdowns in over short (one-month) periods result in a sharp (approximately 30%) reduction in sulfur dioxide pollution around coal power plants. Pollution reverts to prior levels after crackdowns end. The pace of reversion is faster for firms that outrank the city government, suggesting that hierarchical ties to China’s central authorities attenuate a firm’s accountability to the local environmental protection bureau. Engaging citizen informants deters a subset of egregious polluters during crackdowns, but has no lasting effect, especially among outranking firms. Our results document empirically the limits of a highly centralized approach to improving environmental governance through short-lived enforcement crackdowns.
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 22, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Edmund Malesky
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Professor, Duke University
Title of talk: 
Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in Single-Party Regimes: A Field Experiment in the Vietnamese National Assembly
Abstract/Description: 
Our project aims to establish whether targeted provision of constituents’ preferences increases the responsiveness of delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA). Utilizing a randomized control trial (RCT), we assign legislators to one of three groups: (1) those briefed on the opinions of their provincial citizenry; (2) those presented with the preferences of local firms; and (3) those receiving no informational treatment what- soever. We also used a saturation design, applying the treatments to differing shares of delegates across provinces. After the summer 2018 session, we collected behavioral data on delegates from the legislative session, including answers to a VNA Library survey about debate preparation; the identity of speakers in group caucuses, query sessions, and floor debates; and the textual content of those speeches. We find consistent evi- dence that citizen-treated delegates were more responsive, via debate preparation and the decision to speak; evidence from speech content is more mixed. More speculatively, we find little evidence of spillover from treated to untreated delegates, but substantial evidence of treatment reinforcement. Citizen-treated delegates grew more responsive as more of their peers possessed identical information.
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 29, 2019 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Sabrina Karim
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Cornell University
Title of talk: 
How International Post-Conflict Reforms Improve Public Opinion of State Bureaucracies: Experimental Evidence with the Liberian National Police
Abstract/Description: 
As governments move to consolidate territory, they increase the state’s presence in areas of limited statehood. There are at least two ways that this presence may influence the public opinion of those living in such areas: Face-to-face interactions with bureaucrats may improve public opinion of the bureaucracy. Additionally, interactions with bureaucrats who represent the population could improve public opinion. I test these two mechanisms using a novel field experiment in rural Liberia. Households in remote parts of Liberia were visited by either male or female police officers, or no police officers at all. The results from the field experiment show that face-to-face interactions with police officers improved perceptions of police restraint and police effectiveness. Increases in women’s representation in policing did not improve nor corrode public opinion. The short-term implication is that as governments move to increase their presence, interactions with bureaucrats shape public perceptions of the state.
Date and Time: 
Monday, October 1, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Laia Balcells
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Associate Professor, Georgetown University
Title of talk: 
Secessionist Conflict and Polarization: Evidence from Catalonia
Abstract/Description: 
Laia Balcells (Georgetown University), José Fernández-Albertos (Spanish Higher Council of Scientific Research), Alexander Kuo (Oxford University) Do self-determination movements and crisis over independence lead to social polarization? Who is likely to polarize in such instances? The recent political crisis over independence in Catalonia has made these questions more salient and provides an important testing ground to addresses these questions. We argue that policy-based polarization in the case of highly salient self-determination issues can spillover into social polarization, and we try to capture variation and persistence of such social polarization. We fielded a two-wave survey in Catalonia embedding experiments that randomized evaluation of groups as well as consequences of policies related to independence of Catalonia from Spain. The first wave was fielded just before the politically salient 2017 regional elections, which took place a few weeks after a unilateral independence referendum, a declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament, and a subsequent suspension of regional autonomy by the Spanish government. We find strong evidence of policy-based polarization that spills over into social polarization, and that such polarization is partially driven by those with pro-independence stances, as well as with those with strong pro-state preferences. However, we find limits to polarization in terms of the economic costs that even strong independence and status-quo supporters are willing to incur. The second wave was fielded in September 2018 to test the durability of this polarization.
Date and Time: 
Monday, December 3, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Jeff Kaplow
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, College of William and Mary
Title of talk: 
The Changing Face of Nuclear Proliferation
Abstract/Description: 
A rich literature has identified a number of important drivers of nuclear proliferation. Most of this work, however, treats the determinants of proliferation as constant over the entire nuclear age—the factors leading to proliferation are assumed to be the same in 2010 as they were in 1945. But there are reasons to suspect that the drivers of proliferation have changed over this time: nuclear technology is easier to come by, the global strategic environment has shifted, and the nuclear nonproliferation regime has come into being. To examine how the drivers of nuclear proliferation have changed over time, I adapt a cross-validation technique frequently used in the machine learning literature. I create a rolling window of training data with which statistical models of proliferation are built, and I then test the predictive power of these models against data from other time periods. The result of this analysis is a temporal map of how the determinants of proliferation have changed over time. My findings suggest that the underlying dynamics of nuclear proliferation have indeed changed over time, with important implications both for the literature on nuclear proliferation and for policymakers interested in limiting the future spread of nuclear weapons.
Date and Time: 
Monday, November 12, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Anne Meng
Presenter title and affiliation: 
University of Virginia
Title of talk: 
Tying the Big Man's Hands: From Personalized Rule to Institutionalized Regimes
Date and Time: 
Monday, November 5, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Rory Truex
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
Title of talk: 
Repression in the China Field
Abstract/Description: 
This paper examines the nature of China’s current research climate and its effects on foreign scholarship. Drawing on an original survey of over 500 China scholars, we find that repressive research experiences are a rare but real phenomenon, and collectively present a barrier to the conduct of research in China. Roughly 9% of China scholars report having been “taken for tea” by authorities within the past ten years; 26% of scholars who conduct archival research report being denied access; and 5% of researchers report some difficulty obtaining a visa. The paper provides descriptive information on the nature of these experiences and their determinants. It concludes with a discussion of self-censorship and strategies for conducting research on China.
Date and Time: 
Monday, October 29, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
John Owen
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Professor, University of Virginia
Title of talk: 
Divide and Conquer: Fifth Columns and Hybrid Welfare
Date and Time: 
Monday, October 22, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Eric Arias
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, College of William & Mary
Title of talk: 
Patronage by Credit: International Sources of Patronage Politics
Date and Time: 
Monday, September 24, 2018 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
Academic Year: