John Freeman

John Freeman's Bio

John R. Freeman (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1978) is the John Black Johnston Distinguished Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a visiting professor at the University Michigan and a consultant to international businesses, banks, the armed services and law firms. Among his honors are the Morse-Alumni All-University and College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teaching Awards. Freeman is the author of Democracy and Markets: The Politics of Mixed Economies (Cornell University Press) and the co-author of Three Way Street: Strategic Reciprocity in World Politics (University of Chicago Press). The first of these books won the International Studies Association's Quincy Wright Award. It has been translated into Chinese. Freeman also edited three volumes of Political Analysis (University of Michigan Press). He has (co)authored numerous research articles in academic journals. Many of Freeman's research projects have been supported by the National Science Foundation. The Bank Austria Foundation and Austrian Ministry of Science also have supported his research. 

Freeman has held many professional posts including President of the American Political Science Association's Section for Political Methodology. In addition, he has been a member of three NSF review panels and of three NSF select committees. At present, Freeman is engaged in several research projects. One analyzes the implications of economic globalization--especially financial integration--for democratization and political accountability. Another applies Bayesian time series methods in the study of intra and international political conflict. It develops a technology to forecast conflict in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. The NSF supported this project. 

Working Papers

Technical Note: Nonlinearity in the Univariate China Toward Taiwan Net Count Series

This report briefly reviews some simple nonlinear time series models. It then fits a univariate model of this type to a series for directed dyadic behavior in the Taiwan straits, specifically, the monthly net of materially cooperative and materially conflictual events directed by China toward Taiwan in the period 1998:1-2011:3. The analysis illustrates the problem one encounters in (frequentist) pretesting for nonlinearity and also highlights the risks of overfitting the data–the ability to find a good fitting threshold autoregressive model when the pretests for the data are inconclusive. More generally, the results provide a methodological benchmark for the fuller, multiequation, nonlinear modeling efforts in Lin et al. (in progress) and in Brandt et al (2012). 

Research Note: Can Time Series Methods Be Used to Detect Path Dependence?

Conventional time series methods give us tools to identify and analyze data generating processes that embody most of the key concepts associated with the idea of path dependency. We simply need to be clear about the nature of each model, how (if) each model embodies the impact of initial conditions, the set or sequence of shocks that a data generating process experiences, and multiple equilibria. These ideas are illustrated in the second part of the paper by analyzing for nonlinearity the Green, Palmquist and Schickler (GPS) series for macropartisanship. The results of a battery of tests suggest that this series indeed may be nonlinear. A self-exciting threshold autogressive (SETAR) model is found that describes this series. The estimates and regime switching plot from this model are reported. And the GPS series is reinterpreted in relation to the ideas associated with path dependence. Doing this illuminates new and potentially useful ideas about the nature of American macropolitical dynamics. It also suggests the need for tests for nonlinearity in macropartisanship and in (macropartisanship’s relationship to) other theoretically important series. 

Preface to the Spanish Edition of Democracy and Markets: The Politics of Mixed Economies

Editorial Almuzara plans to publish a Spanish language version of Democracy and Markets. This new Preface was written for this Spanish language version. 

The Electoral Information Hypothesis Revisited, with Jude Hayes and Helmut Stix.

The connection between political and bond market equilibration is studied. The conventional wisdom on the subject, the Electoral Information Hypothesis (EIH; Cohen 1993, Alesina, Roubini and Cohen 1997), is criticized on theoretical and empirical grounds. Using a framework proposed by Garrett and Lange (1995) and data from three of the most developed bond markets in the world a revised hypothesis is constructed and tested. The revised hypothesis recognizes the way formal political and bureaucratic institutions mitigate the effects of democratic politics on bond markets as well as the "fat tailed" distributions and volatility clustering commonly found in financial time series. The results show that empirical support for the revised EIH extends beyond the American case, but this support is not universal. More specifically, where democracy is of the majoritarian type and central banks are weak (the U.K. until recently) the revised EIH holds. Once placed on sounder statistical footings, the U.S. case-one of mixed majoritarian and consensual democracy and a moderately strong central bank-also supports the revised EIH. However, the revised EIH does not receive support in Germany, which has a consensual form of democracy and a strong central bank. The empirical power of the revised EIH thus is shown to vary by institutional context. 

Racing Horses: Constructing and Evaluating Forecasts in Political Science, with Patrick T. Brandt and Philip Schrodt

This paper shows how to improve forecasting in political science. We review the issues involved in building a sound forecasting model and in judging performance. The value of a new suite of designs and evaluative tools is explained. These tools include the Continuous Rank Probability Score, Verification Rank Histogram, and Sharpness Diagrams. Forecasts in American politics (elections) and international relations (political instability and conflict early warning) are critically evaluated 

Recent Syllabi

Undergraduate Courses

Government and Markets (Last taught Spring 2015)

This course asks the question of whether democracy and markets are compatible, whether democratic institutions enhance (undermine) the workings of markets institutions and vice versa. Competing theoretical perspectives in the field of political economy are critically evaluated. And the experiences of countries with different forms of democratic market systems are studied. Among the topics singled out for in-depth investigation are the economics of voting, politics of money management, political business cycles, and the politics of trade. 


Democracy and Markets, Honors Seminar (Last taught Spring 2013)

This course addresses the question of whether democracy and markets are compatible, whether democratic institutions enhance (undermine) the workings of markets institutions and vice versa. Competing theoretical perspectives in the field of political economy are critically evaluated. And the experiences of countries with different forms of democratic market systems are studied. Among the topics singled out for in-depth investigation are the economics of voting, politics of money management, political business cycles, and the politics of trade. 


The Politics of World Trade and Money, Honors Seminar (Last taught Spring 2007)

This seminar studies the compatibility of world markets and various forms of governance, including national democracy. After examining some current issues about the impact of world markets on society and governance we study the post WWII evolution of the global trading and monetary systems. This includes critically evaluating some contending theoretical perspectives about these systems. Next we analyze the politics of trade. Among the topics singled out for close examination are the distributional consequences of trade, particularly the emerging skill cleavage within democratic countries. Institutions for governing trade like the World Trade Organization (WTO) also are studied. Money flows--both of currency and capital--and their consequences then are examined. Topics in this part of the class include the welfare consequences of currency fluctuations and crises, the reasons why countries adopt the U.S. dollar as their currency, and the politics of international banking. In the final weeks of the semester we take a closer look at recent political-economic developments in Latin America and Southeast Asia. 


Graduate Courses

Core Course in Models and Methods (Last taught Fall 2014)

This course surveys applications of social science methods in the analysis of normatively significant political problems. Its unifying themes are the EITM (Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models) project of the National Science Foundation and the promise of policy relevant research on important topics like electoral law and conflict early warning. We begin with a study of mathematical reasoning in political science. We a review models of unitary, political decision making, strategic choice in two person and n-person settings. Agent-based, computational modeling also is reviewed. We then turn to empirics. Research design, measurement, human experimentation, modeling of micro and macro political processes, and cross-level inference are studied in this third part. In the conclusion, efforts to join mathematical, statistical, and computational approaches are studied. These efforts come from the fields of American, Comparative, and International Politics.


Comparative Political Economy, Graduate Seminar (Last taught Fall 2003)

The study of political economy has many branches. Among them are veins of political philosophy and theoretical, interdisciplinary inquiries into the interconnections between market and political processes. There are subfields of political economy in American politics and in international relations as well as in urban politics. Political economy is a subfield in other disciplines such as economics and law. And there are well-established communities of scholars engaged in political-economic research on several continents.

This term Political Science 8637 focuses on the compatibility of democracy and markets. We begin with some study of selected puzzles and problems about the experiences of advanced industrial democracies. We then evaluate some competing theoretical perspectives about this subject. From here we proceed to more focused investigations of the mass bases of political economy, producer group politics, and the institutional determinants of macroeconomic performance. Among the topics singled out for closer study are economic voting, wage bargaining politics, and political business cycles. In order to built bridges to the other branches of political economy, the course concludes with weeks on the economic dimensions of European political integration and domestic politics in open economies.


Time Series Analysis (Last taught Spring 2014)

This course considers statistical techniques to evaluate social processes occurring through time. The course introduces students to time series methods and to the applications of these methods in political science. We begin by discussing social problems that are inherently dynamic in nature and also how time series are measured. We then review the calculus of finite differences and other estimation techniques. We move next to study stationary ARMA models. In the following section of the course, we examine a number of important topics in time series analysis including "reduced form" methods (granger causality and vector autogression), unit root tests, near-integration, fractional integration, cointegration, and error correction models. Time series regression is also discussed (including pooling cross-sectional and time series data). We learn not only how to construct these models but also how to use them in social science analyses. 

Introduction to Political Science (Last Taught Spring 2008 with Jeffrey Lomonaco)

This seminar provides first year graduate students with an introduction to issues, debates, and themes concerning the scope and methods of the discipline of political science. It also serves as a general introduction to graduate school, and the professional workings of the discipline.