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The Roy Pierce Scholars Fund

The Roy Pierce Scholars Fund provides summer support for graduate students in the University of Michigan Political Science Department to work with a member of CPS faculty. The Pierce Fund honors Roy Pierce, who for almost 50 years was associated with Michigan’s Department of Political Science. He became a researcher in the Center for Political Studies in the 1960s and remained active there until his death. Roy was a leading scholar of French politics and a creative practitioner of genuinely comparative research.

Application Process

Applications will be accepted from research faculty at the Center for Political Studies, ISR, to support collaborative work with graduate students in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Awards will be for graduate student support during the period of 5/1/2024 – 8/31/2024. Preference will be given to graduate students working with junior faculty and to projects that are full collaborations between the faculty member and the graduate student.

Applications are open! Get details and apply here by Feb. 13, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.

Questions: Please email any questions to [email protected].

Award Winners

2023: Election Observation and Public Confidence in the Outcome of the 2022 General Elections in KenyaElection Observation and Public Confidence in the Outcome of the 2022 General Elections in Kenya

By Victor Udoi Rateng

Project Description

My research focuses on democratic accountability, policy feedback, and elections in developing countries, especially those in East Africa. This summer, my research with Professor Anne Pitcher examines the role of election observers in the 2022 Kenyan elections. Specifically, our study seeks to determine whether assessments by Kenyans of the credibility of Kenya’s 2022 elections are influenced by observer statements regarding the electoral process and the outcome. Our study advances the scholarly literature on electoral accountability that has begun to evaluate the accuracy and capabilities of Election Observation Missions (EOMs) on irregularities and election-related violence.

2023: The Politics and Logistics of Police Violence: Evidence from Rio de Janeiro

By Martin Macias Medellin

Project Description

My research analyzes the dynamics of organized violence, for example violent actions from rebel groups, government agencies, or criminal groups. Specifically during my PhD and during next summer, my projects focus on how do the physical aspects of cities such as buildings, roads, and mountains affect the logistics of armed groups and the violence that they use. Buildings, for instance, can provide concealment spaces for criminal groups during armed combats with police agencies which might motivate the latter to use more violence. Being exposed to criminal violence and accelerated city expansion by growing up in Mexico, pushes me to try to understand how this violence works and why do we observe different levels of violence in different places. What I plan to accomplish if to produce a series of research products showing how and when do physical structures of cities affect violence in different conflicts.

2023: Gender Inequalities in Constituency Service Delivery in Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from China’s Public Restroom Project

By Jun Fang

Project Description

My research aims to answer what explains politicians’ incentives to provide constituency services differentially in authoritarian regimes when citizens are not given access to electoral institutions through which their preferences for policies can be disclosed. To go one step further, under what conditions do authoritarian politicians expand constituency services to marginalized constituencies, such as women? I hope to enhance our understanding of this widespread societal problem and how we might be able to tackle them more effectively.

2022: A New Dataset on Economic Foundations of Authoritarian Regimes

By Sujin Cha

Project Description

My research is on the topic of understanding authoritarian countries that are deeply integrated into the global economy such as China and Russia. I grew up in a country where we are surrounded by economic giants and always held questions on quantifying the question at hand. The research project funded by the award will identify what economic sectors and industries those authoritarian regimes depend on for their survival and provide explanations for their foreign and domestic policies. Through my research, I hope to be able to supply systematic knowledge to the public and institutions of interest to mitigate or reduce instances of social catastrophes such as the recent war in Ukraine.

2022: Real-Time Vote Counting and the Public Trust in Modern Elections

By Fabricio Vasselai

Project Description

My broad research interest is to use Artificial Intelligence techniques to better study elections and electoral democratization. In one part of my research I develop a new framework of computer agent-based simulations that can be used to simulate elections. In another, I propose a novel string-matching algorithm to geolocate polling places and also a technique to estimate demographic characteristics of electors at each polling place. In a third project, I use Machine Learning to propose a novel way to measure the level of democratization of each country in each year, reducing subjectivity and bias.

But above all, in the project I will be working on with the Roy Pierce Scholars Fund 2022-2023, my goal is to use Twitter data, Machine Learning classification and Causal Inference techniques to investigate a surprisingly overlooked but arguably key issue of modern elections: to which extent the real-time vote counting that electors can watch almost live on TV or on the Internet, may actually jeopardize the public trust in the election when amidst the counting one candidate overtakes the other?

That is, the wide publication of partial results amid the process of vote counting may come with its own perils. One of them is the temptation for citizens to see the vote counting as a race in which one candidate may “pass” the others – as if the actual final result wasn’t already contained in the ballots from the beginning of the counting. This illusion has the potential to create false hopes for large contingents of voters during most of the vote counting process, potentially undermining trust in the electoral process when those hopes are shattered by the final result.

In recent presidential elections as diverse as the ones held in Mexico 2006, Brazil 2014, Honduras 2017, Bolivia 2019 and United States 2020, the winning candidate indeed only passed the runner-up candidate late in the process of vote counting, giving to many supporters of the latter the impression, during most of the counting process, that they would win. In the project your donation will be funding, my advisor and I will start tackling this issue by looking at whether the sentiments towards the integrity of the electoral counting as expressed in Tweets posted during the counting were meaningfully affected by the moment in which the final winner candidate overtook the runner-up.

2022: State Capacities, Religious Repression, and Political Mobilization

By Jeremy Boo

Project Description

With funding from the Roy Pierce Award, I will be studying how attempts by states to bring religion under the tutelage of the state influence religious institutions’ ability to mobilize their followers for political ends. Specifically, I will be studying Muslim majority countries to understand how states tame Islam by building the capacities to subsidize and repress.

2021: Where Foreign and Domestic Muslims Come Together: How Global Trade Shapes China’s Local Handling of Ethnic Diversity

By Jun Fang

Project Description

Our research aims to explain the variation in local handling of ethnic diversity within an authoritarian regime, especially Majority-Muslim relations and why some localities can integrate Muslims, both foreign and domestic, into state-business relations while many other places cannot. We hope to enhance our understanding of anti-Muslim sentiments and violence as a widespread societal problem and how we might be able to tackle them more effectively. 

2021: Specifying Measurement Divergence in Violent Event Datasets

By Thomas O’Mealia

Project Description

My research agenda asks a number of interconnected questions on the relationship between political violence, security provision, and the evolution of the post-colonial state. Why do armed actors in areas of state absence choose to provide security to civilians instead of using their asymmetry in coercive power to extract? Why do civilians in contexts of acute insecurity choose to invest their trust in some security providers and not others? And how and to what ends does the management of security institutions get manipulated by political elites? I create new, micro-level data — especially from original surveys and archives collected during nearly a year of field work in sub-Saharan Africa — and employ careful research designs to analyze the opaque dynamics of security provision. Because I study questions where endogeneity remains a serious challenge and experimental treatments can be impractical and unethical, I pair observational data and deep contextual knowledge with quasi-experimental research designs.

The core of my research agenda analyzes the dynamics and consequences of the ongoing violence and state collapse in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where state institutions are considered among the weakest and most predatory in the world. Building on extensive fieldwork and my dissertation, The Politics of Protection, I use eastern DRC to empirically evaluate the origins of security provision and how civilians perceive security providers and international actors in zones of ongoing violence and state collapse.

2020: Women’s Support for Radical and Extreme Right Groups

By Rebecca Savelsberg and Ragnhild Nordås

Project Description

This project will examine how radical and extreme right discourse in Germany and other European countries has changed since WWII. The team will investigate how radical and extreme right groups present concerns about sexual and gender-based violence as a threat to women, whether and how this has changed over time, and whether this affects support for and involvement in these groups by women. 

2020: The Varieties of Populists: Populist Strategies and their Implications

By Anil Menon and Pauline Jones

Project Description

Much attention has been paid to the proliferation of “populists” on the world stage. However, while there has been some effort to define populism, both the scholarly community and the media utilize the label populist when referring to qualitatively distinct actors. This project seeks to further the understanding of why political actors adopt populist platforms and the implications of different populist types for regime stability and change. It identifies two dimensions that have been under-theorized to date: 1) position within the political landscape (outsider vs insider); and 2) level of ideological commitment (true believer vs opportunist). Political outsiders who utilize populism to gain access to the political system have received much of the spotlight, whereas political insiders who engage in populism from within the system have garnered scant attention. Scholarly and media accounts also tend to take the ideological commitment of populists to populism for granted.

2019: Shooting the Messenger: Explaining attacks on journalists

By Ragnhild Nordas and Corina Simonelli

Project Description

Around the world and across time, journalists have been killed, harassed, imprisoned and maltreated; possibly targeted for exposing corruption or expressing political dissent, or strategically targeted for other reasons related to ongoing armed conflict, repression, and terror. Recent high-profile attacks, as well as increasingly aggressive rhetoric against the media by the Trump presidency, has brought renewed concern about attacks on the free press. Yet, relatively few academic studies have tried to examine attacks on reporters and the implications of such attacks. In this project, Ragnhild Nordas and Corina Simonelli investigate patterns of attacks, and how this might have changed over time. They are particularly interested in how attacks on reporters can be understood in terms of theories of state repression and conflict, and how mechanisms of tactical substitution could account for empirical variation across time and space.

2018: In Defense of Political Knowledge

By Donald Kinder and Benjamin Lempert

Project Description

Don Kinder and Benjamin Lempert argue in their book project, In Defense of Political Knowledge, that political knowledge is necessary for civic competence. With the support of the Roy Pierce fund, they will advance their argument by engaging new literature on what political knowledge is and whether political scientists measure it properly. In particular, they will compare our scale to Cathy Cohen’s new measure of knowledge about the ‘carceral state.’ They will also take preliminary steps to develop a measure of conceptual political knowledge. Both tests allow them to consider the hypothesis that respondents who score better on traditional political knowledge tests – i.e. ‘who is Paul Ryan’ – are more uninformed about politics along other dimensions.

2018: Using Twitter to Observe Election Incidents in the United States: Studying Variation in Reported Observations of Election Incidents Across Different Partisanship Affiliations of Twitter Users

By Walter Mebane and Patrick Y. Wu

Project Description

In brief, the purpose of this project is to estimate partisanship affiliations of Twitter users who have reported observations of election incidents during the 2016 general election using specially-tailored unsupervised clustering methods on a user’s full Twitter profile, including their friends and followers, their Tweets, their user description, and the times at which they Tweet. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a final set of partisanship affiliation estimates for our users of interest, and to analyze variation in the type and rate of observations of election incidents across partisanship affiliations. Mebane and Wu will tailor the above techniques to their dataset of Twitter users who have Tweeted about an observation of an election incident. Utilizing prior experience in natural language processing and unsupervised clustering, they will develop a methodology that can help us discover partisanship affiliations of the Twitter users that we are interested in, and analyze variation in the types and rates of observations of election incidents across partisanship affiliations.

2018: The Origins of Networks for Collective Action in Northern Ghana

By Noah Nathan and Paul Atwell

Project Description

This project joins a small body of recent research using network data to understand political dynamics in developing countries. In these settings, interpersonal relationships among community members can affect political participation and voting, as well as the ability of citizens to solve collective action problems, such as in the self-provision of local public goods in the presence of a weak state. While recent work has explored how information diffusion and participation are mediated by networks, our study will instead explore the potential causes underlying heterogeneity in network structures. Beyond providing findings deeply relevant to the study context, this is one of few studies with potential to identify the magnitude and direction of the causal effect of politics on network structure, a question typically ill-suited to causal inference.

This project analyzes relationships between communal leadership institutions and the types of social networks that have emerged over time. The pilot will select three otherwise similar communities in rural Northern Ghana populated by ethnic groups with the three histories of chieftaincy outlined above. Atwell will supervise local survey enumerators as they conduct a household census of each community, mapping out the full network structure of social and family interrelationships. The same survey will also include measures of participation, collective action, and political attitudes. Combined with individual-level census data, this will allow observation of how leadership structures and the extent of intracommunal inequality graphs onto community networks to shape the extent to which powerful individuals or families consolidate control over information and political access and distort local political outcomes.

2017: Linking Civil War, Genocide, and Revolution

By Scott Tyson and Jessica Sun

Project Description

Why do some states experience civil war while others see revolutions or genocide? Political scientists have identified a number of factors that predict which states are at risk of experiencing all these forms of conflict with a fairly high degree of accuracy. However, we cannot determine which states marked by a set of risk factors will see conflict, and how that conflict will manifest, with the same degree of reliability. Studying civil war, revolution, and genocide as related forms of violence allows us to identify and leverage what is common between them and to explicate the mechanisms by which the same set of underlying conditions leads to each type of conflict. Empirically, these three forms of conflict are linked (Sun working paper 2017). This project will build on my working paper and develop a theoretical explanation both for the relationship between civil war, revolution, and genocide and why these forms of violence di↵er across conflict contexts.

Civil conflict can manifest in three ways: civil war, revolution, and genocide. We argue this grouping is natural because, by definition, these forms of conflict are in many ways similar. Civil war and revolution involve a challenge to the state and its government. Both civil war and genocide involve physical violence directed against citizens who may (or may not) have taken up arms against the state. Genocide, civil war, and revolution all involve lethal political violence. The realization of each form, we contend, is attributable to variation in relative capacity of states and challengers and a mismatch in the strategic anticipatory strategies of the two groups.

2017: What Does the State Surveil? New Evidence from a Mocro-level Study in Moscow

By Yuri Zhukov and Charles Crabtree

Project Description

I would like to work with a graduate student, Mr. Charles Crabtree, to develop and write a co-authored research article on the determinants of state surveillance. The project asks what factors determine the location of government monitoring tools. To answer this question, we will use data on the spatial and distribution of public surveillance (CCTV) cameras and security forces across Moscow, along with micro-level data on political protests, soccer riots, and historical patterns of police activity. This study will bridge the gaps between three related but often disconnected strands of research – the literatures on policing, repression, and regime survival.

2017: Ex-Combatants' Beliefs about Political Connections, Economic Support, and Rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia

By Nahomi Ichino and Megan Ryan

Project Description

Post-conflict countries are prone to what conflict experts refer to as the conflict trap— countries that have experienced one civil war face a 44 percent risk of returning to civil war in the next five years (Collier and Sambanis 2003). Civil conflict erodes the economy, destroys trust in political institutions, and leaves behind a legacy of atrocities and severe grievances, conditions that can drive a vicious cycle of conflict (Collier and Sambanis 2003; De Juan and Pierskalla 2014; Walter 2004). One influential argument is that poverty is one of the most important explanations for why individuals choose to re-enlist in war, even more important than the severe grievances that incited conflict in the first place (Walter 2004). However, the body of micro-level evidence for this argument is still fairly thin. A recent field experiment and quasiexperiment on whether economic re-integration programs reduce the return of former combatants to rebellion have yielded mixed findings (Blattman 2016; Gilligan, Mvukiyehe, and Samii 2013). This suggests that that the relationship between former combatants’ economic condition and their propensity to return to rebellion may be sensitive to local conditions or specific circumstances of the combatants themselves. We propose to develop a field experiment in Aceh, Indonesia, on the same question, with particular attention to how the treatment effects may vary with (a) an individual’s association with the political party in power, and (b) his or her beliefs about whether being associated with the ruling party affects one’s ability to improve one’s own living conditions.


2019: Does Voting for Autocracy Reinforce Individual Regime Support?: List Experiments with Randomized Encouragement in Authoritarian Contexts

By Yuki Shiraito and Guoer Liu

Project Description

Why do authoritarian countries hold elections? Comparative research emphasizes the function of authoritarian elections at the institutional level: deterring opposition, distributing rents among elites, signaling loyalty by political underlings. While many authoritarian regimes insist that their electoral victory attests to the legitimacy of their rule, theories on the mechanism are underdeveloped and empirical evidence is lacking due to severe methodological challenges in studying the impact of elections on individual support for the regime in authoritarian contexts. This project will address those challenges by conducting a field experiment that combines a list experiment and a randomized encouragement design in China.

2016: Measuring the Impact of Ethnocentrism on Political Behavior

By Nick Valentino and James Newburg

Project Description

To adjudicate conflicting results on ethnocentrism, we propose to construct and validate a generalized ethnocentrism scale that does not contain references to specific groups in society. Such a scale would effectively address the main theoretical criticism of current ethnocentrism research: that commonly used measurements of ethnocentrism are simply weak instruments measuring attitudes toward salient social out-groups. Should we successfully validate a generalized ethnocentrism scale, we would then examine relationships between ethnocentrism and political behavior.

Our supposition is that ethnocentrism is a generalized, stable predisposition that powerfully shapes the way people view the social and political world. We suspect that our validation of a context-neutral measure will be successful, and that this measure will predict various aspects of political behavior. Specifically, we expect a generalized measure of ethnocentrism to influence political attitudes such as presidential candidate evaluations, race-based social policies, and immigration policies. We expect that individuals high in ethnocentrism are more likely to hold political views consistent with these beliefs, mediated through attitudes toward salient social groups. Returning to the example of immigration, we would expect ethnocentric non-Hispanics to support restrictive immigration policy, but for that effect to be mediated through their evaluations of Hispanics. Further, we would also expect ethnocentric Hispanics to oppose restrictive immigration policy, with a similar mediational pathway through in-group attitudes.

2017: The Influence of Perceived Competence on Political Interest and Participation

By Nicholas Valentino and Erin Cikanek

Project Description

The early political science consensus about who participates politics is rooted in resources: socioeconomic capital springing from education, free time and income strongly predict citizens’ past or future participation in aspects of political life. More recent theoretical developments make room for the effort of elites to mobilize citizens. The precise causal role of political interest, however, remains little understood. Some theories place it in the middle somewhere: resources cause interest, which leads to action. Others think it is a personality trait that catalyzes (moderates) the power of resources but is unaffected by them. What we do know is that participation is often quite highly correlated with self-reports of interest and attention to political information. Most studies simply include interest as another predictor in the list, rather than attempt to determine where it comes from.

This is why Prior’s forthcoming book length attempt to understand the causal antecedents of political interest is quite welcome and needed. Unfortunately, from our perspective at least, the closest Prior comes to an explanation is that interest develops at a young age, and primarily among those who are in highly resourced families, but it is not clear exactly what about those resources causes interest in politics for some and not others. This is, of course, a gross oversimplification of Prior’s nuanced work. Still, it got Cikanek and me thinking about what might be going on in the observational pattern his massive book has so clearly revealed.

For this project, we would like to explore a specific causal antecedent to political interest that psychologists say is common to all complex skills and abilities: perceived competence. It turns out that believing oneself to be skilled at something, to have some natural ability, is positively related to the perception that one is interested in that topic and must have worked hard in the past to get so good at it. On the other hand, being told that you are not very good at something leads naturally to the conclusion that one isn’t that interested in the topic and hasn’t worked very hard to be good at. In sum, our simple idea is that some people are told they are good at politics, and if they have the resources to participate those people end up being more interested and actually participating. In other words, we want to test the same bootstrapping theory for raising successful children that now dominates developmental psychology texts and, consequently, many self help books for new parents.

2016: Authority Migration in Federated Governments and Organizations

By Ken Kollman and James Strickland

Project Description

Our research seeks to answer a broader question: whether during decisions over representative centralization, subunits are paying attention to the policymaking process at the national level and the role of their interests in that process. We seek to determine the extent to which national and state legislators are influenced by the interests of their respective states when considering forms of authority migration. Importantly, our results may suggest that interest groups can influence government just as much as government shapes interests. Little existing research explores the possibility of interests shaping national institutions. We suggest that the allocation of authority between national and subnational units is not accidental but can be modeled. The migration of authority occurs as a consequence of struggles for power and control over policy issues, interacted with the institutional details of the policymaking processes within those institutions.

2016: Sources and Consequences of Public Anger and Fear

By Ted Brader and Hwayong Shin

Project Description

We will explore the distinct origins of public fear and anger, and thus their divergent consequences for political behavior. To test the theoretical expectations, we intend to run a set of experiments in the vein of earlier research by Brader and colleagues. Our goal is to design a set of experimental manipulations in the form of news stories about politically-relevant events or issues. These manipulations must isolate the circumstances that are likely to give rise to the hypothesized appraisals, while holding other attributes of the event/issue constant. We also intend to use events or issues reflective of those citizens encounter on a more-or-less regular basis. Our collaboration this summer will focus on carefully developing and pre-testing these manipulations as well as fielding and analyzing at least one experiment. Ultimately, our hope is to write one or more publishable papers reporting the results of this research. This project will contribute to the public opinion literature by identifying the types of political and civic situations that trigger public anger versus public fear versus both.

2015: Who Benefits? Ethnicity, Voting and Government Goods Provision in Uganda

By Nahomi Ichino and Peter Carroll

Project Description

Uganda, a country of 38 million people in East Africa with a history of brutal dictatorship and civil wars, has made great strides in recent years in adopting multi-party elections and in meeting the Millennium Development Goals: it has halved the number of people living on less than a dollar a day, increased the share of births attended by skilled healthcare workers, reduced the under- ve mortality rate, and increased access to clean water and sanitation facilities. This progress depends upon the government’s distribution of limited development resources to particular locations and constituencies. Although political science has several established theories of distributive politics, these are more appropriate for more democratic electoral settings with real competition between political parties in continuous ideological space. It is not yet well understood how governments make these allocation decisions in ethnically diverse, partial democracies in the developing world like Uganda, where the incumbent strongman may use intimidation as a substitute for winning voters’ support and voters’ preference for co-ethnic candidates or parties identi ed with their own ethnic group might undermine performance-based voting.

This project investigates how the geography of political support a ects partially-democratic governments’ allocation of development goods and their impact on social welfare, and following the upcoming elections in 2016, how voters in turn respond to the distribution of these goods.

2014: The Paticipatory Consequences of Voter ID Laws: Demobilization and Counter-Mobilization

By Nicholas Valentino and Fabian Guy Neuner

Project Description

Thirty U.S. States have now adopted voter identification (ID) laws. Proponents of these identification requirements contend that they are necessary to ensure the integrity of the electoral system by safeguarding against voter fraud. However, recent scholarship has been very explicit in likening these measures to the Jim Crow laws, providing evidence that the enactment of restrictions is driven by strategic partisan concerns. Following this logic it has been argued that these laws will disenfranchise certain societal groups, notably racial and ethnic minorities as well as the poor, thus depressing turnout of these groups on election day. Against this backdrop, though, recent empirical research into the effects of voter ID laws on turnout has returned mixed or null results.

One possible explanation for these null results is that an opponent process is taking place: While these laws may indeed keep some legitimate votes from being cast, they also may be used by the opposition to motivate some voters who might otherwise have stayed home. This project examines whether ID laws fuel counter-mobilization efforts that mask the true effects of the laws when examining turnout. We argue that the extant literature has not paid enough attention to the ways in which the enactment of such laws may propel some people to engage in behavior that would help to counteract the net decrease in turnout brought about by the laws.

2013: The Cyclicality of Moral Policymaking across the American States

by Jenna Bednar and Srinivas Parinandi

Project Description

In this project, we seek to investigate whether (and if so, why) legislators are more likely to pursue moralistic policymaking when economic conditions are bad rather than good. Examples abound of legislators turning their attention to moralistic issues during times of economic distress. In June of 2009, as Michigan grappled with an unemployment rate of almost 15 percent and the possible demise of its dominant industry, the Michigan House of Representatives approved a budget proposal that included a stipulation prohibiting the use of state family planning funds to pay for abortions. During the same year, as New Mexico faced soaring unemployment, that state’s legislature considered a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide in addition to several other moralistic policy measures.

2014: The Politics of Public-Sector Unionism in the American States

By Robert Mickey and Christina Kinane

Project Description

Unions may be declining, but they are back in the news. Since 2011, public sector unions have been under assault at the state level throughout the country (Lafer 2013), including in those areas previously thought to be strongholds of the American labor movement. As union density (the share of the workforce that is unionized) in the private sector has now plunged to below seven percent—levels not seen since the 1880s—public sector union density remains above 35 percent (BLS 2013). Why has this assault occurred? What explains variation in its success? And what are its consequences for union density, unions’ political influence within the Democratic Party, and the effects of unionization on political participation (Kerrissey and Schofer 2013; Leighley and Nagler 2007), and for the political influence of American workers?

In important respects, the current assault on public sector unions is a nationwide phenomenon with national causes—or at least national precipitants. The emergence of a nationwide right-wing populist backlash and an increasingly radical wing of the Republican party (Skocpol and Williamson 2012; Mann and Ornstein 2011), especially in combination with severe fiscal pressures on state budgets, have softened the ground for attacks through state legislatures on public sector unions by state-level activists long interested in launching them. And networks of conservative donors and corporate lobbies have invested financial and other resources in particular state-level struggles (Freeman and Han 2012). State-level activists are also capitalizing on a development that predates the financial crisis, recession, and relatively jobless recovery that has followed: the attack on teachers’ unions as degrading the quality of public education (Moe 2011). Thus, there are certainly national-level forces at work, and in this sense the attack on public sector unions recalls the term limits movement of the early 1990s (Rausch 2003). But there remains substantial variation across the country in whether attacks have occurred, in the severity of proposed restrictions on collective bargaining, employment protection, and other matters, and in the success of these attacks.


2013: The Electoral (Dis)connection: The Effects of Term Limits on State Legislatures

By Rocio Titiunik and Andrew Feher

Project Description

For decades political scientists studying Congress have developed theories with the assumption that legislators are primarily motivated by reelection (Mayhew 1974; Cox and McCubbins 2005). These theories, however, prove ill-equipped to shed light on one of the most significant institutional changes in American legislatures: term limits.

Since 1990, 21 states have adopted term limits.1 We wish to explore what happens when legislators are freed from reelection concerns, that is, when the electoral connection to constituents is severed. In particular, we will examine the effects of state legislative term limits at both the individual level and at the institutional level, asking what effect does term limits have (1) on legislative behavior (2) on the composition of state legislatures and (3) on the influence of other institutional actors—governors, bureaucrats and lobbyists—vis-à-vis the legislature?

2012: Revisiting the Source of Ethnic Cues: The Effectiveness of Family and Panethnic Group Appeals in Mobilizing Latino Voters

By Brian Min, Jowei Chen, and Vanessa Cruz

Project Description

This project aims to explain why people choose to vote in elections and how important family dynamics are in this underpinning political socialization process. The project consists of two field experiments in Riverside County in California in which we randomly assign different mobilization techniques to a subset of registered voters. The 2010 Census revealed that the two largest racial groups in Riverside Country are white (43 percent) and Latino (41 percent). Thus, our sample includes both Latino and white registered voters. The 2×2 randomized experimental design consists of mobilization techniques with treatments that vary on the two (2) following dimensions: primed identity (immigrant/Latino) and message recipient (parent/offspring adult registered voter). Along one dimension, the Democratic candidate is referred to as the child of “immigrants” or the child of “Latino” parents. On the second dimension the message will be delivered to either the parent in the household or their adult offspring. This allows for an interactive effect between the recipient of the message and the primed identity. Thus far, scholars have assumed that the only effective primed identity among racial minorities has to be a panethnic racial identity and they have assumed that all family members respond to that salient identity in the same way. The outcomes of interest cluster around four categories: electoral turnout, political knowledge, political engagement and political transmission.

2011: What Makes Citizens Click? Testing the Impact of Emotional Discourse with Digital-Age Field Experiments


Ted Brader and Timothy J. Ryan

Project Description

How do citizens learn about politics? In an age of abundant information and highly differentiated media, the issue is not so much whether citizens can become informed, but rather which sources they consult and how much they choose to consume. Roy Pierce, like many scholars, took a strong interest in the vigilance of democratic citizens and the roots of representation. Along the way, he delved deeply into how partisanship and ideology shape perceptions and choices. Prior research reveals that citizens sometimes engage in selective exposure—seeking out information to confirm their own partisan point of view—but other times do not. What explains these fluctuations in selective exposure? And if citizens are more responsive to some types of appeals than others, how does this influence the incentives elites have to engage in different types of discourse?

We wish to explain why citizens seek out political information and what sorts of information they seek. Recent research suggests that emotions motivate information-seeking as well as other forms of political action. This line of work sheds light on how specific emotions—e.g., fear, enthusiasm, anger—whet or dull the appetite for information generally. We posit that emotions evolved through natural selection to elicit behavior directed at specific goals. As a result, a politician trying to lure voters to her website have to consider what voters find emotionally arousing, and whether the information available helps resolve the aroused tension: Does available information serve the goals activated by a person’s emotional state? We hypothesize that citizens are more likely to consume information when it satisfies emotion-consistent goals.1 We plan to test this proposition with randomized field experiments over the Internet. While scholars have learned much about emotions and behavior from lab experiments and surveys, field experiments deployed unobtrusively into citizens’ “natural environment” extend tests to an increasingly important context while avoiding pitfalls that can arise when research subjects are aware their behavior is being observed.

2012: When and Why Do Human Rights NGOs Target Companies (Rather than Governments)?

By Jana von Stein and Laura Seago

Project Description

Historically, human rights nongovernmental organizations (HRNGOs) like Amnesty International have focused on states, ‘naming and shaming’ governments that torture, incarcerate dissenters, and commit a range of other abuses. In the past decade, these groups have added a new target to their agenda: multinational firms. By ‘naming and shaming’ companies publicly for labor rights abuses, HRNGOs hope to use the threat of consumer-led boycott to induce change. We know very little about this new and growing area of human rights campaigning. Which companies do HRNGOs target? Which rights violations do they identify? Are HRNGOs trying to circumvent the state, or are campaigns concurrent? By building an original dataset of HRNGO efforts to name and shame firms, we will be able to answer these and other questions. This will help move the literature on the causes and consequences of private global activism forward.

2011: Party Nationalization, Partisan Pork and Public Goods Provision in Thailand

By Brian Min and James Atkinson

Project Description

What accounts for variation in public goods provision within a given country? Some of the redistributive literature claims that parties may reallocate public funds by focusing on districts with certain types of voters. The loyalty voter theory argues that politicians will redistribute according to decreasing levels of risk, with the least risky group, supporters, receiving the most funds and the most risky group, opposition, receiving the least (Cox & McCubbins 1986). Ansolabehere & Snyder (2006) provide evidence from U.S. county transfers that supports this loyalty voter theory. Lindbeck & Weibull (1987) present a different model, which focuses on swing voters. Using a formal model, they find that, in equilibrium, the parties propose the same redistributive policy focused on groups with weak party preferences. Furthermore, groups are more desirable for redistribution if the group is relatively numerous at the cutpoint between the parties and the group is poor and more responsive to economic benefits (Dixit & Londregan 1998). This theory finds empirical support in research on intergovernmental transfers in Sweden (Dahlburg 2004) and in India (Dasgupta 2008).

Alternatively, several scholars have focused on how institutional variation affects the distribution of public goods in cross-country studies. One explanation focuses on the effect of party nationalization on the distribution of public goods (Hicken, Kollman & Simmons 2010). The authors argue that nationalized parties have a broader national constituency that expects a focus on more national-level policies. As the party system overall becomes more nationalized (less fragmented), parties should provide higher levels of public services at a nationwide level. The authors present cross-country evidence suggesting that higher levels of party fragmentation result in a decreased provision of several health indicators.

This project considers how institutional variation in party nationalization over time and within a given country affects the distribution of public goods. Since 1992, Thailand has had seven different governments, ranging from an unsteady coalition of several parties to a single-party majority. A key institutional change in the party system occurred in 1997 with the formation of a new constitution. Some of the constitutional reforms focusing on creating stronger, more nationally-oriented parties seemed successful in that they reduced the effective number of parties at the national level from 7.2 during the period of 1986-1992 to 2.6 in 2005 (Hicken 2006). Thus, these constitutional reforms transformed the Thai party system from a fragmented party system to a more nationalized party system in a short time period.

This project seeks to adjudicate between the partisan voter theories (swing and core) and the party nationalization theory of redistributive politics using electoral data and nighttime lights satellite imagery across 400 electoral districts in Thailand from 1992-2009. The key dependent variable will be the change in electrification level from the 1992 base line in a given district. This variable comes from the Nighttime Lights Time Series data set of the Department of Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS). Visible and infrared imagery from DMSP-OLS instruments are used to monitor the global distribution of clouds and cloud top temperatures twice each day. The nighttime lights imagery, however, also records the aurora, city lights, manmade and natural fires, and natural gas flaring (NGDC 2010). The images can be examined at a pixel level that covers approximately 1 square kilometer with each pixel encoded on a scale of 0 to 63 that designates the relative measure of brightness (Min 2010). The key independent variables for this project will include measures for party system nationalization, vote share of the national party (coalition) in power, and the competitive level of a given district election.

If either of the partisan voter theories were true, we would expect either the national party in power’s vote share or the level of competitiveness in a given district (but not both) to have a positive effect on the change in brightness level in the district. We, however, expect that neither of these partisan theories provide an adequate explanation. Instead, we expect that higher levels of party system nationalization will result in increases in electrification levels in a given district. Thus, the overall level of public goods should increase in each district when the party system is less fragmented. Furthermore, we suspect that parties may choose partisan redistributive strategies conditioned on a given institutional environment. For example, at high levels of party nationalization, voters may view a party that provides more electricity to areas of strong core support as failing to meet their expectations of a focus on broad national-level policies. In the same institutional environment, however, voters might view a party that provides more public goods in swing districts more favorably. Thus, we will test whether the effect of vote share or competitiveness on the change in brightness levels in a given district depends on party nationalization.

In summer 2011, we propose to turn this idea into a conference paper to be presented at MPSA 2012 and to subsequently submit this paper for publication consideration in a peer-reviewed journal. The scope of the project in summer 2011 will consist of three main phases. In the first phase, Atkinson and Min will further develop the theoretical arguments for this paper. During the second phase, Atkinson will construct a data set consisting of electoral, economic and satellite imagery data for 400 districts in Thailand from 1992-2009. Throughout this phase, Min will provide methodological support as Atkinson continues to learn the ArcGIS software. The final phase will include data analysis and the drafting of a conference paper by both Atkinson and Min, which they will submit for presentation at MPSA in 2012.

This experience will provide several benefits for Atkinson. He will learn from Min’s expertise in ArcGIS and with the Nighttime Lights Dataset and will develop better spatial analytics skills. Furthermore, Atkinson will benefit from the preparation of a paper that he can present at MPSA the following year. Finally, this project allows Atkinson to incorporate his study of the Thai language and of Southeast Asian politics into a project with the potential to develop into a broader dissertation topic for Atkinson.

2010: Calling the Shot: The Political Economy of Inflation Targeting

By Andrew Kerner and Alton B.H. Worthington

Project Description

Inflation expectations are an important part of economic decision making for consumers andproducers in any economy. One option governments and/or central banks have for reducing the uncertainty about inflation risks is issuing public pronouncements of inflation targets. In practice, implementation of inflation targeting (IT) policies varies across space and time and targets can take the form of a point target or a range target. Although IT is a relatively recent innovation in state economic policy (New Zealand pioneered the practice during central banking reforms in 1989-1990), its intellectual pedigree extends back to Keynes’ work in the 1930s. In theory, these policies give economic actors additional information about future nominal prices and stabilize investment by reducing uncertainty over inflation rates.

Most academic work on IT has been conducted by economists and economic historians and focuses on IT’s technical aspects (Walsh 1995; Svennson 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002) and evaluations of its success compared to stated aims (Bernanke et al. 1999; Bernanke and Mishkin 1997). Political factors have largely been ignored in evaluating the various ways countries approach IT and the efficacy of these policies. However, there are a myriad of reasons to suspect that politics plays a large role in determining both the type of IT policies put into place and their success.

We are centrally interested in exploring two dynamics. First, we suspect that the success of IT depends greatly upon policy credibility (market actors need to believe that inflation targets will be met) and that the credibility necessary to make IT work is deeply informed by political factors. Second, we suspect that the choice of IT strategy (point targets vs ranges) is the product of a strategic interaction between governments and central bankers with potentially divergent preferences regarding the tradeoffs between stability in inflation expectations and leeway for governments and central bankers to pursue counter-cyclical inflationary strategies. We are particularly interested in exploring these questions with respect to the impact of the partisan composition of governments, the distribution of societal interests for and against strict inflation targets and the institutional context in which the government and central bank reside.

The specific questions we aim to address are:

Why do states choose to implement inflation targeting?

  • How (if at all) do inflation targets constrain governments? How do these differ from those imposed by other central bank goals?
  • Do domestic investors, voters, or foreign investors view these stated targets as credible promises or cheap talk? Does partisanship alter these expectations in a meaningful way?
  • Does point-targeting represent a stronger promise to austerity than a range? Do governments act strategically when choosing how and when to announce inflation targets?

The first objective of this project is to create a dataset of policy announcements in a sampling frame of both inflation targeting states and states where central banks issue other forms of announcements (policy announcements, economic outlooks, etc.) from 1990 until the present. This should comprise about 40% of the work to be done during Summer 2010. Concurrent with the development of this dataset, research and collaboration time will be divided among further background research into the theory and practice of IT and the refinement our theory. Our initial expectation is that governments and central banks recognize the potential for their inflation targets to be viewed incredulously by the market, and will adjust their inflation targets accordingly. We suspect that these adjustments will manifest in both the level of inflation targeted and the manner (point vs range targets) that in which the inflation target is set. As such, we expect to derive a theory in which policy statements and market reactions are endogenously determined. We are particularly interested in developing and testing a set of hypotheses investigating the effects of interest group strength and government partisanship on the credibility of inflation targets. Much of the extant political economy literature assumes that labor constituencies and left governments are more likely to accept deficits and prefer full employment policies to low inflation. If this is the case, we would expect that when left governments are in power (or even appear likely to enter power) that the credibility of targets will fall. This should have an effect on central bank behavior vis-à-vis the use of point target vs ranges.

Having developed our dataset and theoretical expectations, the remaining 60% of our time will be spent preparing a conference paper focused on the credibility of inflation targets to be presented at a political economy conference in the 2010-2011 academic year. This should be followed by submission to a peer-reviewed journal. If this research proves fruitful, this project will form the basis for a larger research agenda for Alton. That expanded project will expand the sampling frame and extend the data back to 1970. Upon completion of the initial research, the data and findings will be made publicly available.

2009: Part-Time Economic Voters: When and how contextual clarity produces economic voting

By Rob Salmond and Cassandra Grafstrom

Project Description

One significant part of the literature on economic voting asks whether the degree of economic voting is dependent on institutional context. Following Powell and Whitten (1993), many have argued that in institutional contexts in which the locus of credit or blame for economic outcomes is clear to the voter, economic voting will be prevalent (eg. Samuels 2004, Anderson 2006). In contexts with multiple conflicting sources of economic responsibility, however, voters will become baffled about whom to reward or punish for the nation’s economic fate, and will therefore vote on other grounds instead.

Almost without exception, scholars have tested this theory by looking for a direct correlation between institutional “clarity of responsibility” and levels of economic voting. The clarity of responsibility theory, however, implies a far richer and more indirect causal chain than this: institutional conditions do not unconditionally turn into vote outcomes.

Instead, those institutions that induce clear lines of economic responsibility likely operate by triggering a recursive process of both campaigning by elites and absorption of campaign information by voters, and that recursive process gradually causes higher levels of economic voting in high clarity contexts. We suggest that institutional conditions that are permissive towards profitable partisan campaigning based around the economy (that is, conditions with clear lines of economic responsibility) should lead elite actors to undertake campaign strategies that emphasize the economy in advantageous circumstances, and should also induce citizens in those nations, through multiple exposures to these more economically-focused campaign messages, to know more about their national economy. High levels of economic voting should, therefore, only emerge when institutional conditions promoting clear lines of economic responsibility coincide with both increased economic knowledge by citizens.

In this project, we seek to better understand the causal chain that leads from institutional conditions to economic voting. We specifically seek to discover:

  • what strategic decisions by political elites mediate the institution – behavior relationship;
  • which citizens are most likely to only vote the economy when responsibility is clear, but ignore the economy when responsibility is complex;
  • what dynamics of the recursive process between elite provision of economic information and public knowledge about the economy exist.

Our strategy in summer 2009 is to develop this idea into a conference paper that we hope to present at MPSA 2010 and subsequently submit for possible publication in a peer-reviewed journal. To do so, we first need to develop and refine our theory about institutional context and economic voting in a more extended form than we have given above. Second, we need to collate suitable data and test that theory. The second task represents the majority of our work on this project during summer 2009. It relies on building a dataset featuring cross-national time-series survey data for measures of knowledge about the economy (the Eurobarometer series is promising in this regard); utilizing Comparative Manifestos Project data for indicators of elite campaigning of different issues; and using standard sources (World Bank etc) for official data about the economy. There are substantial challenges in building a dataset of this type, especially one that spans multiple iterations of the Eurobarometer survey series. Most of the Eurobarometer surveys, for example, do not feature factual knowledge questions about the economy, but one or two do have such variables. The challenge for us is to develop from the standard Eurobarometer variables a good proxy measure for economic knowledge. Given these kinds of challenges, we therefore approach this task with caution. But we consider that the potential payoff of understanding the individual level mechanisms (at both the elite and mass levels) that make up the causal chain leading from institutional design to voting behavior represent a valuable advance in the literature in this area, and the effort is therefore worthwhile.

2010: The Political Geography of U.S. Health Policy

By Jowei Chen and Kate Bradley

Project Description

Why has the U.S. historically lagged behind other Western democracies in health care spending for the poor? The U.S. spends more on health per person than any other OECD nation, and makes higher per-capita public expenditures on health care than almost all other OECD nations, but this public spending is regressively distributed in comparison with other Western democracies. Our direct public health spending flows disproportionately to the elderly, and tax subsidies constitute an enormous public expenditure on those who can afford private health insurance. While the U.S. covers certain categories of the poor with Medicaid, the US is alone among Western industrialized countries in not providing universal coverage.

Previous scholars have offered several explanations for such “American exceptionalism” in low health spending for the poor. Under the conventional wisdom, the U.S. has lagged behind other OECD nations in most categories of poverty spending because of its cultural tradition of small government and because of institutional barriers such as federalism and the separation of powers. Health policy researchers have also explored such explanations as path dependence and the influence of existing health programs such as Medicare,iv the historical role of American “welfare capitalism,” or private welfare structures, in dampening demand for public welfare, interest group influence, and the organization of medical care in the U.S.

In this project, we explore a unique geography-based explanation for the lack of political support for universal health coverage in the U.S. Through extensive spatial analysis of GIS data and analysis of geocoded public opinion survey data, we will demonstrate that the geographic distance of many poor, rural communities from specialized medical facilities contributes to relatively low levels of experience with the medical care delivery system, lower health literacy, and low demand for specialized health services. This, in turn, contributes to low electoral demand for federal health care spending, despite high uninsured rates and poor health outcomes among the rural poor. In addition, using congressional roll call votes, we will show that geographic distance to secondary and tertiary medical care is associated with low congressional support for public health financing. In other words, we expect to demonstrate that the residential geography of rural, medically vulnerable populations in the U.S. helps to account for the government’s relatively low spending on health care for the poor.

This project will be the first to show how voters’ local health-related surroundings shape their knowledge of and attitudes toward federal health care policy. Hence, the project contributes to broader theoretical debates in political science concerning political attitudes, electoral representation, distributive spending, and electoral geography. In addition, given that the poor in the U.S. are relatively less urbanized than in many of the developed countries with universal coverage,viii this research constitutes an important addition to the literature on American exceptionalism in health policy.

This research also speaks directly to the current legislative politics of health care reform. Paradoxically, the House Democrats’ health care reform bill was opposed last November by legislators from rural districts, despite the high uninsured rates and high unemployment among these rural populations; the 39 Democratic House members who voted against the health care bill serve disproportionately rural, poorer districts with less access to urban medical facilities. We explain this paradox by demonstrating that the votes of these rural legislators simply reflected their constituents’ low health literacy and their consequent lack of interest in health care reform.

To fully develop this project during the summer, we will collect and analyze data from three sources: 1) GIS data on medical facilities and hospital service areas (HSAs); 2) Geocoded survey responses on health and health policy-related issues from the American National Election Studies (ANES) and the General Social Survey (GSS); 3) U.S. Census demographic and socioeconomic data; and 4) Congressional roll call votes from health care-related bills.

We plan to present this project at the 2011 MPSA and APSA conferences. We are planning two papers from this research for peer-reviewed publication. We will submit one paper to a political science journal, while the second paper will target a health policy audience.

2009: Parsing the Bundle: An examination into the components of property rights and their relationship to economic growth

By Robert J. Franzese, Jr. and Valenta Kabo

Project Description

“Property rights” is one of the most fundamental concepts in political economy, political science and economics, and especially in the political economy of development. The laws that governments enact to protect property rights shape incentives for various types of economic behavior of both individuals and institutions.

However, there is an incongruity between theories about the economic effect of property rights, specifically in the form of land legislation, and the empirical outcomes in countries around the world. Several scholars state that a clearly defined system of property rights is an essential component of economic growth. This belief arises from the conception of property rights as institutions, or sets of rules that resolve conflict over the competition for scare resources, and provide for predictable behavior (Besley, 1998). However, the empirical results do not align with theoretical predictions in that implementation of property rights does not always result in security, increased productivity, investment or economic growth (Fandino, 1993; Place and Migot-Adholla 1998). An example of this incongruity between theory and empirical observations is found in studies of land titling laws. Significantly more than any other types of property laws, land titling laws have been the object of empirical study and recent debate.

Land titling laws are those which give title to land or create land registration systems, and are intended to resolve problems of market inefficiencies. By providing information and assurance to 3rd parties, land titling laws are said stimulate economic growth and development by facilitating market operations revolving around land. Typically, such operations include obtaining credit, buying, selling, leasing of land, investments in infrastructure on the land, leading to increased productivity, and avoiding the costs of disputes over boundaries and invasions (Fandino, 1993; Deininger and Chamorro 2002). In adherence to this belief, many countries have begun land privatization or titling programs (Fandino, 1993). The US Agency for International Development has supported programs in El Salvador, Guyana Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Peru, and Ecuador (Hendrix, 1995). In addition, the World Bank has been the sponsor of several land titling programs in Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Bolivia. However, the results have been inconclusive. Studies of individual countries’ land titling programs have found that changes in land titling legislation do not always yield economic growth, or the expected changes in economic behavior. For example, on Brazil’s frontier, land titling did increase investment (Alston, Libecap and Schneider, 1996). Similarly, in Thailand, land titling did increase investment and productivity, particularly because of access to credit (Feder and Feeny, 1991). However, in Cameroon, land titling increased only a sense of security, not investment in the property (Firmin-Sellers and Sellers, 1999). What explains this variation?

By unpacking what is traditionally conceived as the “property rights bundle”, leverage can be gained in understanding precisely how property rights impact economic outcomes, and why countries have this variation. Although property rights are generally conceived as a single entity, they are in fact multiple rights protecting a single entity. Thus, I argue first, that not all aspects of the property rights bundle are universally necessary and equally important for economic growth. Second, different property rights are necessary for the different economic functions a state wishes to perform.

In order to begin the project of addressing these arguments, better data must be compiled. This project will develop a dataset consisting of property laws from a sample of at least 60 countries (both developed and developing economies). First, the laws will be read and coded with respect to whether they have one or more of several elements of the property-rights bundle. Thus, the dataset will contain information on the ownership laws, transferability laws, use laws and land titling laws. After coding the laws, they will be scaled according to the degree of restrictiveness on autonomy over property. Second, the data set will contain information on the legal systems from which the laws originate. Such information will include the manner of judicial review, and the taxonomy of the legal system. Third, the dataset will contain information on institutional forms that have an impact on the way that such laws are written and enacted, such as the constitutional forms of the country, and the manner of electing legislators. Finally, information on the economies of the countries will also be included. This dataset will therefore include growth rates, predominate economic use of land, interest rates (insofar as they may impact the price of land), and the size of the land market. The purpose of this data set is to enable quantitative analysis on precisely which components of the property rights bundle impact economic growth and economic behaviors.

A pilot study of the data set was completed in 2008 with funding from the Olin Center for Law and Economics at the University of Michigan law school. Refining of the methodology for collecting the data and further data collection is occurring during the winter 2009 semester. Support is requested for the purpose of completing the data set and beginning data analysis.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in the fact that it offers to explain why empirical results differ from economic theories of property rights in a variety of country contexts. In addition, the intellectual merit of this project lies in its methodological approach. It will be the first project to create a dataset of land laws that can be used for quantitative analysis. Such a dataset will be useful not only for the present research but for other research projects that wish to explore relationships between property rights, land, legislation, and economic and political outcomes.

2008: International Non-Governmental Organizations and Government Repression: When Is Campaigning Effective?

By Jana von Stein and Johannes Urpelainen

Project Description

International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become increasingly visible actors in world politics in recent years. Their activities blur the line between “domestic” and “international” in interesting ways. Indeed, NGOs lobby not only in Washington, but also in New York and Geneva; they monitor behaviors that have traditionally fallen within the purview of nation-states but now have important international implications; and they push both for the international creation of agreements and for domestic ratification.

Although NGOs are only now beginning to attract widespread interest in the IR literature, some research – particularly in the sociological and/or constructivist traditions – has for a number of years been interested in what these groups do and what effects they have. With few exceptions, these scholars concur that NGOs “matter” – i.e., they have an impact on important outcomes such as human rights, economic development, and/or environmental protection. Domestic activists can channel information and provide evidence of “bad behavior” to powerful NGOs such as Amnesty International. The latter, in turn, can exert pressure on powerful democracies to sanction the very governments that are engaging in “bad behavior.”

The existing theoretical literature has only a limited understanding of the strategic interactions that take place between repressive governments, NGOs, and powerful democracies. In equilibrium, a government should not engage in repression if NGOs are sufficiently likely to mount a successful sanctions effort. Under what conditions does the expectation of NGO lobbying deter repression? Similarly, NGOs presumably choose their campaigns strategically. Does their unwillingness to campaign when failure is likely encourage repression? Finally, all else equal, democratic governments are least likely to sanction repression if doing so is very costly. Can repressive governments and NGOs anticipate the likelihood of sanctions, and how does this affect repression and campaigning?

The empirical literature on NGOs is also underdeveloped. Most accounts rely on case studies, which, although useful for uncovering possible causal mechanisms and communicating intuitions about process, pose well-known problems for generalization. The little quantitative research that exists faces substantial data limitations: with only a few exceptions, it relies on measures (such as a simple count of the number of NGOs in a country) that provide only a very crude assessment of NGO lobbying, strength, and resources.

We propose to combine our substantive interests and respective methodological skills to produce research that sheds light on some of the most pressing questions about NGOs. Put more simply, we are both interested in how NGOs work and whether they “matter”; Johannes’s comparative advantage is in game theory, whereas Jana’s is in statistical methods. By collaborating on this project, we hope to: (1) develop game-theoretic models of NGO/state interactions, with observable empirical predictions; (2) test those predictions quantitatively.

Specifically, we apply the game-theoretic technique known as “global games” to investigate formally the behavior of governments and advocacy networks in interaction. We use the model to generate a rich variety of comparative statics that we use to subject the theory to a stringent empirical test. The project has three stages. First, we construct and analyze a game-theoretic model that incorporates the essential actors and the strategic choices they face. Second, we employ the model to develop hypotheses and a statistical research design. Third, we collect/compile data and conduct statistical analyses. We focus on the issue area of human rights in order to make the project feasible.

Johannes will construct and develop the game-theoretic model. He will also generate the hypotheses. In both tasks, he will collaborate closely with Jana on substantive questions (e.g., relation to the extant literature, appropriateness of assumptions, stating the model’s intuition in a manner that is digestible to non-specialists, tying the theoretical story in to relevant examples). As needed, he will also consult with CPS and other Political Science faculty who have an expertise in game theory. Jana’s role will be more intensive once we begin the quantitative component of the project, although we wish to emphasize that we do not intend to “divide” the tasks so that Johannes conducts all the game-theoretic work and Jana all the quantitative analysis. Rather, we plan to have a dialog throughout the process and to work jointly as much as possible. We have found this useful in both Johannes’s dissertation research and Jana’s research.

Our central variables of interest are government repression, activist pressure, and sanctions by democracies. Data on government repression are readily available from sources including Amnesty International and the State Department. Until now, data on activist pressure and sanctions have been more difficult to obtain, but fortunately Jana’s co-author (on an unrelated project) Emilie Hafner-Burton (Princeton) now has a good dataset on this question, which we will be able to use. Numerous other variables will be necessary, and these will depend to some extent on the empirical predictions of our game-theoretic models. We anticipate that these will include regime type, ratification of relevant human rights agreements, economic development, foreign aid, international governmental organization linkages, economic sanctions, and NGO memberships. With the exception of NGO memberships, these variables can be compiled from existing sources with the help of an undergraduate RA. For NGO memberships, the traditional approach is to simply employ a count of the number of NGOs in a country in year t. We think this is a very blunt measure, and so intend (with the help of an undergraduate RA) to collect data on national memberships in key human rights NGOs.

The project allows Johannes, whose dissertation research focuses on formal modeling, to participate in a collaborative research project that develops and quantitatively tests a formal model. Collaborative research between theoretically and empirically oriented scholars is increasingly important in the field, so early exposure to this type of research is a valuable asset for a young scholar. We plan to present the resulting paper at the annual International Studies Association convention and intend subsequently to submit it for review at a top journal. We think the combination of an underexplored issue-area, game-theoretic analysis, and careful quantitative evaluation will make the article attractive to our subfield.

2007: Vote Buying and Vote Compelling: Electoral Institutions and the Interaction of Violent and Non-Violent Electoral Manipulation

By Allen Hicken and Megan Reif

Project Description

Professor Hicken’s research interests and past work in vote buying, electoral corruption, and electoral institutions,1 and Ms. Reif’s interest in the relationship between electoral rules and the timing, locations, perpetrators, targets, and types of coercion used by competitors to influence electoral outcomes intersect in their exploration of the dynamic relationship between nonviolent electoral fraud and the use of violence to manipulate elections. Existing theoretical work and empirical data have not addressed why political actors choose different types of violent and non-violent tactics to manipulate electoral outcomes. Hicken and Reif anticipate using the data produced by the project to help answer several questions: Do fraud and violence occur simultaneously? Are vote-buying and violence interchangeable tactics that share a single explanation, or is the relationship a more complex one in which nonviolent fraud and electoral violence are substitute means of altering electoral outcomes that change with parties’ access to resources and electoral rules?

Both Hicken and Reif combine analysis of sub-national and cross-national statistical data with in-depth knowledge of and fieldwork in specific countries and regions, which often requires the use of research teams to maintain large-N data collection during fieldwork. In order to continue the data-collection effort that Reif began in fall 2005 with RAs from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), we seek support for one of the project’s current undergraduate RAs to continue coding and entering data during the summer, as well as a support for a second graduate student to code and supervise while Reif conducts fieldwork around upcoming urban local elections in Algeria and continues French and Arabic language study. Reif is currently working with second-year PhD student Brooklyn Walker, who shares a regional interest in the Middle East and offers experience in working on a large data project under Ashutosh Varshney, to assist in project management as Reif prepares to leave for Algeria in early- to mid-April. Valenta Kabo also has expressed interest in the possibility of working on the project. Professor Hicken manages several teams of RAs and will provide some mentoring and supervision in Ann Arbor to complement Reif’s contribution to and management of the data collection from abroad via her CTOOLS research site.

The datasets, both in their partial and completed forms, will lay the groundwork for collaborative work in the short- and long-term future. A dataset of all election dates (day, month, year) and dates of major constitutional and electoral system changes since male suffrage for all countries in the world have been completed, and a database of current provisions on electoral disputes on election crimes for all countries in the world (data collection form attached), developed with input from the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) and Craig Donsanto, head of the electoral crimes division at the U.S. Department of Justice, will be completed by mid-April. A daily events dataset for incidents of election coercion is currently in the pilot-testing phase (instrument attached). During Summer 2007, daily events will be collected for a sample of countries selected using the first two datasets and also including fieldwork case study sites – Newark, NJ; Algeria, Pakistan, and Egypt. In addition, an annual indicator of levels of election violence (number of injuries and deaths in election violence) and fraud for all elections in the world since 1945 will be developed. Hicken and Reif will work collaboratively to develop measurement indicators of nonviolent fraud and corruption to combine with the data on electoral violence to enable analysis that distinguishes between the two broad forms of electoral manipulation.

2008: Empirical Estimation of the Electoral Value of the Party Label in Developed Democracies

By Robert J. Franzese, Jr. and Kenichi Ariga

Project Description

This project aims to develop the systematic measurement of “the electoral value of the party label” for 18 developed democracies over the post-WWII period from multivariate statistical analyses on district- and candidate-level voting-data in these countries. The “electoral value of the party label” refers to the extent to which collective party reputation (“party label”) is important for the reelection of individual legislators. A systematic and cross-time and cross-country (i.e., cross-political-system) comparable measure of the electorally-motivated incentives of politicians to cohere as a party and “compete as a team” is valuable in itself, and it also has great potential as an important explanatory variable for the variation in a wide range of policy outcomes across developed democracies.

The comparative politics and political economy literatures today are replete with theoretical claims and empirical studies that emphasize the impact of political institutions on policy outcomes. Theories illuminate how various macro-political institutions—presidential vs. parliamentary regimes, proportional vs. majoritarian electoral rules, federal vs. unitary systems, etc.—shape the preferences and incentives of politicians and, thereby, the variation in policies and outcomes across countries. Empirical studies stress differences in institutions as key explanatory variables in tests of hypotheses from these theories. The literature is right to give an important role to political institutions in shaping the incentives of politicians and so policies and outcomes. However, using as key explanatory variables fixed institutional features that either do not vary or are not measured sufficiently precisely to record any variation over time, existing studies are too often too limited in capturing important variation in policymakers’ incentives within political systems and even more limited in studying how the effects of these institutions on incentives may vary across contexts depending on other important elements of the political environment.

For example, one popular account for the cross-country variation in the balance between public-goods and particularistic pork-barrel spending stresses the different electoral incentives of parties competing in majoritarian vs. in proportional representation (PR) contests. The account predicts that majoritarian rules induce greater (lesser) spending on particularistic programs (public goods) while the PR rule results in the opposite, because governing parties under the majoritarian rule win reelection by winning a majority in a majority of districts and so can win with the support of much smaller proportion of the electorate than parties competing under the PR rule who, essentially, must win a proportionate majority of the population. The exclusive focus on the majoritarian-PR difference in electoral rules, however, fails to capture the effect of elections on the balance between these programs fully. Some other institutional rules or informal conventions concerning electoral and partisan competition that also vary across countries—such as those conspiring to enhance partisan electoral unity—importantly shape politicians’ incentives differently across political systems even under the same electoral rules. The changing nature of the competitive environment from one election to another would also imply changing policymaker incentives over time within the same country. Moreover, these electoral incentives could differ across political parties even within system at the same time, reflecting differences in those parties’ natures, rules, and conventions. The exclusive focus on the difference of these broad electoral rules misses these important variations. Furthermore, we strongly suspect that the effects of those broad electoral rules vary depending on the degree of such electoral unity.

Accordingly, this project proposes to measure systematically and comparably the electoral value of party label felt by incumbent legislators, with the aim later to use it also as a prominent explanatory variable in a theoretical model more fully capturing the variation in the electoral incentives of policymakers. The current draft of that theoretical model concludes that, as the collective party reputation becomes more important for the reelection of individual legislators, they would prefer to provide public goods, which would enhance their parties’ reputations, and, as its importance declines, they would prefer particularistic programs, which would enhance their personal reputation. We suspect next iterations of this model to show how this partisan electoral unity interacts with electoral-rule proportionality to shape more fully these distributive vs. public-goods spending incentives. (This variable also has potential to explain variation in other important policy outcomes, of course.)

Following Cox and Rosenbluth, we will measure the electoral value of party label by the estimated effect of the national party-swing on the reelection probability of individual legislators. However, we generalize and extend this strategy to PR-system multimember districts and the full range of empirically existing electoral systems among the developed democracies. If the national party-swing greatly affects the reelection probabilities of legislators, their electoral fate is more closely tied together with the collective fate of their party, and therefore, the collective party reputation is more important for them. The statistical model estimates the winning probability of individual legislators using actual, district- and candidate-level election data. Among the most difficult methodological challenges for this estimation is that multi-party voting data cannot be considered as i.i.d. data, especially under electoral rules that permit vote-pooling among candidates from the same party, and standard econometric probability-models are not applicable. The statistical model must accommodate the particular natures of dependency among observations arising at district-level (and across districts within nations). In addition, deriving systematic, comparable estimates of the same substantive quantity—the value of the party label to winning/retaining one’s seat—across systems using such widely varying electoral rules across countries requires extreme care and attention to empirical and theoretical detail.

Kenichi is now developing an original dataset of district- and candidate-level election-results across developed democracies over the post-war era that is the most detailed and broadest-coverage such dataset to date. Upon its completion, we expect that Kenichi needs to spend the entire summer to develop and refine the appropriate statistical model(s) to estimate the electoral value of party label in 18 advanced industrial democracies. We apply to the Roy Pierce Scholar’s Fund to support this work conducted by Kenichi during the summer.

The project is one of the major parts of the dissertation research conducted by Kenichi, titled “Electoral Rules and the Electoral Value of the Party Label: Intra-Party Bargaining and Public Policymaking in Parliamentary Democracies,” but also part of collaborative work with me on the degree and nature of electoral and partisan “budgeteering” (manipulation of budget). In this project, cross-system and over-time variations in the nature and sharpness of partisan competition for seats and government, which includes “representational party unity” centrally, are important explanatory variables for the relative emphases on distributive and redistributive policy. Kenichi’s “electoral value of the party label” is or relates very closely to “representational party unity”.

Kenichi’s project is genuinely comparative and truly at the cutting edge. It will greatly enhance our knowledge of the effects of electoral competition and electoral rules on policymakers’ incentives and, thereby, on policies and outcomes. Therefore, I believe it perfectly matches the funding objective of the Roy Pierce Scholar’s Fund.

2007: Barriers to Rent-seeking Activities: Police-patrol or Fire-alarm Oversight

By Anna Grzymala-Busse and Yoshikuni Ono

Project Description

The purpose of our project is to collect data and develop a theoretical argument about why political actors create institutional barriers that constrain their abuse of public office for private gain – rent-seeking activities. The problem of rent-seeking activities is one of the central concerns for representative democracies, where elected officials have privileged access to state resources. In order to prevent the rent-seeking activities, political actors develop institutions of monitoring and oversight that constrain themselves and limit their own discretion. However, the number, timing, control, and scope of the institutional development vary considerably across countries. Why do some countries have more oversight institutions than others? Why do some countries adopt oversight institutions earlier than others? In order to address factors and incentive mechanisms that prompt elected officials to develop institutional barriers, we propose to analyze the development of oversight institutions that monitor the bureaucratic behavior in parliamentary democracies, because political actors attempt to extract state resources through the authority of an overseeing bureaucracy.

In the oversight literature, McCubbins and Schwartz (1984) introduce two forms of oversight with which elected officials monitor the bureaucratic behavior: (1) police-patrol oversight, in which legislators examine a sample of bureaucratic activities with the aim of detecting and remedying any violations of legislative goals, and (2) fire-alarm oversight, in which legislators establish a system of rules, procedures, and formal institutions that enable individual citizens and organized interest groups to examine administrative decisions. McCubbins and Schwartz argue that legislators prefer fire-alarm to police-patrol solutions and build oversight institutions because the fire-alarm serves their interest to monitor the bureaucracy at lower costs compared to the police-patrol.

A major limitation of this literature is that it focuses exclusively on the informational aspect of the relationship between elected officials and bureaucrats, and ignores the fact that creating oversight institutions constrains elected officials themselves and reduces their discretion to extract state resources through the authority of an overseeing bureaucracy. Since fire-alarm solution creates institutions that monitor elected officials as well as bureaucrats, the elected officials cannot abuse their authority for rent-seeking activities. On the other hand, police-patrol oversight does not discourage their rent-seeking activities, since elected officials can make sure that bureaucratic activities reflect their personal interests directly by using their oversight influence. Hence, elected officials would not necessarily prefer the fire-alarm solution even if the fire-alarm is more efficient to prevent the asymmetric information problems between elected officials and bureaucrats. What we know about the incentive mechanisms that prompt elected officials to develop oversight institutions, however, is very limited. Why do the elected officials create oversight institutions? How and under which conditions do the elected officials create the fire-alarm oversight institutions?

In order to answer these questions, we will construct a game-theoretic model and evaluate its predictions with quantitative statistical analysis. For the empirical analysis, we will collect data on the establishment and politicization of the formal institutions of monitoring and oversight (domain of control, leadership appointment procedure, and independence), the domestic political competition (threats of replacement in office), external imposition (the pressure from regional or international organizations), coalition governance (office payoffs and side payments of coalition bargaining), and the structure of legislature in parliamentary democracies for the postwar period. The data will be analyzed to examine whether the institutional development is triggered by domestic competition, external imposition, or coalition governance.

2006: Supplementary Field Study to the Project: "The Rule of Law in China: If they Build It, Who Will Come?"

By Mary Gallagher and Shijian Li

Project Description

Under the auspices of National Science Foundation (NSF), the research project “The Rule of Law in China: If they Build it, Who Will Come?”, for which I am the PI, explores the development of China’s labor legislation since 1978, and the concomitant societal response. As an essential part in understanding theories of law and social change and Chinese politics, the analysis of legal mobilization brought by labor legislation will address one of the seminal questions: does the law have the ability to foster social change?

In 2005, we finished the field implementation of a 4-city, over-4000-sample survey in China about labor legislation and labor dispute resolution, by using a “knowledge, attitude, and practice” design that investigates the range of knowledge, the general attitude, and the real-life experiences of respondents in regards to labor and employment law and workplace grievances. This study provides well-defined descriptive statistics about labor law knowledge, attitude, and practice among Chinese workers.

However, the survey itself tells little about the details of the process and outcomes of labor dispute resolution, which is equally important for understanding legal mobilization in China. Therefore, a microlevel study of detailed case records and interviewing a distinct subgroup of those who decided to use the law or have already experienced litigation, is demanded. Such a qualitative study will help to know how dispute resolution works in practice; how the process and outcomes change the attitudes and behaviors of social actors; and how societal use of legal institutions impacts state institutions and policy implementation.

As a Fulbright scholar affiliated with the East China University of Politics and Law (ECPLU) for the year 2003-2004, the PI conducted in-depth interviewing of 50 disputants seeking advice at the Labor Law Services Center for Workers Legal Aid, a NGO registered under ECPLU. However, those who came to the Legal Aid Center do not constitute a representative sample of all those who brought their cases to arbitration or the courts. Therefore, to have a better and balanced picture of how people reach their decision to litigate, it is necessary to do supplementary interviews of litigants who were not recipients of legal aid.

Thus, the purpose of a supplementary field study is to collect additional information and factual details about other litigants and their cases. We will focus on their attitudinal and behavioral patterns. In particular, the study will focus on understanding how Chinese workers come to the decision to file a dispute, whether they used other forms of legal representation (for-fee lawyers, for example), and how the process of labor dispute resolution affects their attitudes regarding the legal system, the status of labor relations, and the government. These findings can be compared against the sample of legal aid recipients. As labor disputes and unemployment rates are both on the rise in China, this research is significant and important.

2005: Region, Religion, and Representation: Electoral Behavior in Indonesia

By Allen Hicken and Jennifer Epley

Project Description

This project is designed to examine the ways in which Indonesia’s new electoral institutions are shaping a) the salience of religious and regional cleavages (voters attitudes towards regarding those cleavages), b) the behavior of voters and, c) the development of Indonesia’s party system. After the collapse of the thirty-year-old Suharto regime, Indonesian reformers are attempting to craft a new democratic framework. During an earlier democratic experiment Indonesian governments made up of multiple, weak parties proved indecisive, corrupt, and ultimately unstable. In an effort to avoid the chaos of the 1950s the new constitution contains provisions aimed at reducing the number of parties at the national level and strengthening party organization. This includes provisions that effectively ban regional or local political parties from national elections. Also, for the first time since 1957, religious parties are now allowed to freely form and compete for elected office.

We are interested in the ways in ways the attitudes and behavior of Indonesia voters and party elite are being shaped by the electoral environment. We focus on the effects of allowing religious parties to compete in national elections while effectively barring local/regional parties. Specifically, we seek to test the following hypotheses (we are happy to supply more information on the logic behind each hypothesis upon request).

  1. Voters for whom region is their primary identity should be less likely to vote in national elections than voters for whom religious identity is paramount. The opposite should hold for regional elections.
  2. Voters for whom region is their primary identity should have more pessimistic views of Indonesia’s democratic institutions than voters for whom religious identity is paramount.
  3. Religious cleavages should be evident in national elections (e.g. secular v. non-secular, moderate Islam v. radical Islam, etc.) while regional cleavages should be evident in subnational elections.

In addition to these hypothesis we are interested in investigating the effect of regional party bans on the strategies of regional partisans. To what extent and with whom do they ally for national electoral purposes? Is there are link between electoral exclusion and radicalization of regional groups?

Jennifer Epley, the graduate student applicant, will be spending the summer of 2005 in Indonesia working on this project as well as on her own dissertation. We are seeking funding to collect three types of data. First, we have developed contacts with Indonesia’s foremost public opinion firm, the Indonesian Survey Institute, and need funds to include a series of questions on the identities, democratic attitudes, and voting behavior of Indonesians in the ISI’s national survey. Second, we intend to collect electoral return data for both national and regional elections. Finally, Ms. Epley will conduct a series of semi-structured interviews with regional and religious party elite to begin to understand their strategic responses to the new electoral environment.


2005: The Boundaries of National Community: Immigration, National Identity, and Public Opinion

By Cara Wong and Laura Potter

Project Description

Do current theories of American immigrant assimilation and incorporation work in other countries? What are factors that affect political identification, a sense of community in a nation, and inter-group conflict? To address these questions, scholars need to know about both the receiving nation (e.g., its citizenship laws, political institutions, and public opinion) as well as migrant group members (e.g., their identities, political attitudes, and history of immigration). This project is a comparative exploration of attitudes about national identity and politics among citizens and non-citizens – both native and foreign born – in advanced industrial countries. Using pilot survey data of Muslims in Spain, Britain, and Germany (gathered for a joint project with Ken Kollman, Mark Tessler, James Jackson, and three European collaborators), we will examine how national, ethnic, and religious identities affect political and social attitudes. For example, to which country’s politics do immigrants and subsequent generations pay attention? Who and what political institutions are such individuals willing to trust? Which immigrants are most likely to feel pride in their new country? Answering these questions is complicated by each nation’s differing laws about citizenship.

We also plan to use other comparative datasets, such as the World Values Survey, ESS, or Euro-barometer, to measure public opinion about immigration in the receiving countries. We would like to gauge if there is a relationship between attitudes about national identity and belonging of both native- and foreign-born people, Muslims and non-Muslims. For example, do stronger nativist or ethno-cultural views of national identity among native-born citizens lead to weaker identification with the receiving country among foreign born people?

The student working on this project, Laura Potter, will be enriched by the project because it will allow her to collaborate on a project that involves substantive comparative work. It will also deepen her understanding of national identity in industrialized democracies, which she plans to explore as a potential dissertation topic. She hopes to extend this project by comparing the results with data from Japan, which is her area of expertise.

Her preliminary research has shown that Japanese political elites have used Germany’s ethno- cultural definition of citizenship as a model, and therefore they have been following changes in Germany’s naturalization laws very closely. Examining the cases of Moroccan, Bangladeshi, and Turkish immigrants will help Laura develop a set of hypotheses about how Korean and Brazilian immigrants in Japan may acculturate and adapt.

I am deeply grateful to The Roy Pierce Scholars Fund for its ongoing support of the academic success of political science graduate students. I believe empirically grounded, analytical rigorous research plays a pivotal role in curing the political, economic, and social ills of the developing world. Michigan’s Political Science Department, with excellent faculty members working on developing countries, is an ideal place for me to work on my research topics.

Jun Fang

2021 recipient of the Pierce award

The Roy Pierce Scholars Fund award will help me make progress on a research project that builds on my broader research agenda of understanding how the past shapes contemporary politics both consciously and subconsciously. Specifically, my work with Prof. Jones aims to shed light on the following question: how do populist leaders evoke the past in their rhetoric, and to what ends?

The Roy Pierce Scholars Fund award will help cover my summer living expenses, allowing me to dedicate all my time toward making progress on joint work with Prof. Jones. We plan to have a complete draft of our paper written by the end of summer, which we hope to present at virtual and in-person workshops this Fall. I would not have been able to set aside time to work on this project this summer without this award.


Anil Menon

2020 recipient of the Pierce award

The research on radical and extreme right groups that I will be able to conduct with this fellowship is on a topic that I have been passionate about ever since growing up in Minnesota and Germany. In both places, I was struck with why some people were drawn toward far-right ideology while living amongst others who actively fought against such ideology. When I applied to PhD programs, the University of Michigan stood out as the place where the most dynamic conversations about peace, conflict, and contentious politics were happening. Since arriving in Michigan four years ago, the community at ISR has been an incredible support, and I have been able to develop important skills by working as a research assistant, taking courses with, participating in workshops, and receiving advice from professors at ISR.

Rebecca Savelsberg

2020 recipient of the Pierce award

The Pierce Award has provided opportunities for me to bring to bear some of the central substantive and methodological questions that brought me to academia. Through carrying out a modest field experiment in northern Ghana with Noah Nathan, my perspectives and interests have been greatly refined as I narrow in on a dissertation theme. Additionally, the resulting data will fuel many professionalizing experiences as it becomes a working paper and ultimately moves to publication. I am immensely thankful to the Roy Pierce Scholars Fund for its continued role in my academic development through supporting collaborative research.

Paul Atwell

2018 recipient of the Pierce award

I am so grateful to have received the Pierce Award, which supported my research with Nicholas Valentino on the causal antecedents of political interest. The generous assistance provided by the award enabled us to collect original data while also affording me the financial stability to devote my summer to this research. The Pierce Award and the support offered by the Center for Political Studies allowed me to grow as a scholar and I am very thankful for the opportunities that receiving the Award has provided me in the early stages of my academic career. 

Erin Cikanek

2017 recipient of the Pierce award


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