Under REview & IN Progress

EGAP Policy Briefing #70

Washington Post Article 6/25/2021 "Kenya might expel refugees to their home countries: How do Kenyans view refugees - and what would boost public support for letting them stay?"

The global refugee crisis and public backlash against immigration is at an all time high -- especially toward Muslims in Christian-majority countries due to the perceived association with global terrorism. Building on theories from the communications field, we propose that listening to personal narratives may be an effective strategy for mitigating negative views of immigrant outgroups. We record two personal narratives developed in collaboration with Somalis in Kenya: one highlighting the hardships refugees face, and a second highlighting shared opposition to terrorism among Muslims and Christians. Experimental data from a representative survey in Nairobi shows that both treatments have positive effects on intergroup and policy attitudes. Strikingly, the effects are generally as large or larger among those who hold more negative baseline views. In contrast to many informational interventions, personal narratives offer an effective strategy for attenuating both negative intergroup and policy attitudes that are typically considered resistant to change.

EGAP Policy Briefing #71

While transparency is assumed to strengthen political accountability, initiatives disseminating politician performance information prior to elections have reported mixed results. In this paper, we argue that sustained transparency---defined as the dissemination of politician performance information early, regularly and predictably throughout the term---is critical. Theoretically, we show that sustained transparency can affect electoral outcomes via constituents' vote choices, but also through incumbents' decisions of running for reelection, party leaders' nominations, and challengers' entry choices. We further show theoretically that transparency's effects on those multiple pathways is conditional on the quality of incumbent performance but also on the relative strength of her party. We test the predictions of our model using a field experiment involving 396 subnational constituencies in Uganda. Our findings are broadly consistent with our pre-registered hypotheses, suggesting that sustained transparency can improve electoral accountability, even in the context of an electoral authoritarian regime.


This study formally theorizes intuition of, and examines ``downstream'' outcomes from, Grossman & Michelitch APSR 2018.


Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions Working Paper 3-2018

The share of women in legislatures has increased dramatically in the past decade. Yet female politicians continue to face barriers that undermine their performance relative to men. We argue that those barriers have different implications across job duties, which can result in performance gender gaps of different magnitudes across duties. In particular, where female politicians are excluded in politician networks, duties requiring interaction with fellow politicians (e.g., legislative activities) may exhibit larger gender gaps as compared to duties (e.g., constituency services) that can be undertaken independently. We find support for this argument when comparing women and men politicians' performance across 50 subnational Ugandan legislatures (where 1/3 of seats are reserved for women). Using original network data, we find that women are significantly more peripheral in professional networks, and that this network peripherality drives gender gaps in duties requiring more interaction with fellow politicians, but not independently-performed duties. Women are not more peripheral in personal networks, and such networks are not correlated with performance.

According to conventional scholarship, citizens expect and desire that parties favor their own ethno-partisan supporters with public service distribution, despite viewing such favoritism as trecherously reinforcing ethno-partisan conflict. Yet, newer research shows incumbents often distribute in ``egalitarian'' patterns. Given citizens have little information about service distribution, we investigate through a survey experiment in Kenya whether information about the incumbent's egalitarian distribution quells expectation and desire for ethno-partisan favoritism. The information does not budge sticky, segregated beliefs about incumbent behavior. Ethno-partisan insiders believe the incumbent has been and will be egalitarian, while ethno-partisan outsiders believe the incumbent has been and will be favoritistic. However, the information increases the egalitarianism of citizens' desired distribution, especially among ethno-partisan insiders. We conclude: (a) different/stronger information provision may be necessary to alter entrenched beliefs about party behavior, but it takes little to prompt one's own "moral high ground,'' and (b) partisan-motivated reasoning and cuing are stronger than previously thought in contexts with weakly-institutionalized parties.

CSDI Working Paper 1-2019

We use plenary session meeting minutes to investigate whether and why politicians might better substantively represent same-gender citizens across 49 subnational Ugandan legislatures (where one-third of seats are reserved for women). Male politicians' legislative actions better mirror male citizens' top policy priorities (roads/transport), yet significant gaps exist between reserved-seat female politicians' (RS-females') legislative actions and female citizens' top policy priorities (water). Why? We find evidence that male citizens exert overall more accountability pressures, and male politicians receive more accountability pressures, especially from male citizens. Additionally, male politicians have more congruence with same-gender citizens in their personal policy priorities. Finally, although women's welfare has low salience for both citizens and politicians, RS-females are significantly more active in this domain.

  • Islam, Christianity, and Attitudes Towards Women: Evidence from Mixed-Religion Countries in sub-Saharan Africa with Keith R. Weghorst Paper

Kellogg Working Paper Series #418)

What determines the success of women in attaining elected political office and socioeconomic gender equality more broadly? A recent surge in the literature on this burning question has centered around whether adherence to Islam versus Christianity, or rather politico-economic factors coinciding with these religions, is responsible for cross-national variation in gender inequality. We view religion not as fixed, but fluid - its interpretation regarding gender equality is endogenous to contextual factors such as political institutions and economic development. Our new approach is thus to conduct analyses on gender attitudes within mixed religion countries in Africa, matching Muslims and Christians on individual level socioeconomic traits to better isolate the role of religion. We find cross-national variation in the within-country Muslim and Christian gap, whereby Muslims are either equally, more, or less conservative than Christians in sub-Saharan Africa. However, within-country gaps are small. On the other hand, the gaps between men's and women's attitudes towards women's leadership and equality are much larger.

  • Does Increased Mobilization and Descriptive Representation Intensify Partisanship Over Election Campaigns? Evidence from 3 US Elections with Steve Utych Paper .

Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions Working Paper 7-2017

We theorize that partisanship intensifies more as elections near for certain citizens due to campaign-specific factors that buoy partisan identity salience and perceived congruence with their party: (a) citizens targeted with more mobilization activities, and (b) citizens from politically-marginalized groups that share social identity with their party's nominees. Using daily cross-sectional survey data from a nationally-representative sample collected for one year prior to the US 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections, we find partisanship substantially intensifies over a campaign year (5 percentage points). The effect is larger in states receiving more mobilization activities (swing states). While black Democrats and female Republicans received increased descriptive representation from a presidential and vice-presidential nominee in 2008, respectively, only black Democrats' partisanship intensifies significantly more than comparison groups in this election. We conclude that campaigns matter because they intensify partisanship and exacerbate polarization on partisan cleavages; who becomes more polarized, however, depends on campaign-specific factors.