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Work in Progress

Under Review
  • Information Dissemination, Competitive Pressure, and Politician Performance between Elections: A Field Experiment in Uganda, Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions Working Paper Series 3-2016with  Guy Grossman Paper Online Appendix
Politicians regularly underperform in their job duties partly due to the obscurity of their actions to constituents. In this study, we investigate the effects of a local NGO's initiative to improve the transparency of politicians' actions in a multi-year field experiment involving 408 politicians in 20 Ugandan district governments between the 2011 and 2016 elections. The NGO created performance `scorecards' each year to rate how good politicians carried out their legally defined job duties, and presented them to all politicians in district plenary sessions. For randomly selected politicians, the scorecard was also disseminated to constituents. We find that scorecard dissemination improved politicians' subsequent performance across a range of performance measures and development project procurement, but only in competitive constituencies. The effect on the performance of duties assessed on the scorecard emerges immediately after treatment. These findings suggest that, depending on electoral pressure, performance transparency can improve politicians' performance between elections.

  • Barriers to Rural Women's Political Engagement: Evidence from Mali with Jaimie Bleck  Paper

According to many prominent theorists of democracy, citizens must be able to “formulate and signify preferences” to participate as ‘political equals’ for democracy to work (Dahl 1971). However, a gender gap in political knowledge and opinions exists across the Global South, especially in rural areas. In this paper, we study the relationship between rural women’s socioeconomic empowerment (household decision-making ability and mobility to leave the village) and political knowledge and opinions amongst rural women in Mali, a West African country with strong traditional gender norms. To reduce well-known difficulties of gaining access to rural women and reducing bystanders effects, we use simultaneous co-gender interviews of one man and one woman per household and a modified Audio-Self-Administered Questionnaire for illiterate populations. Further to reduce “satisficed” opinions, we elicit opinion justifications and measure “justified opinions.” Consistent with predictions, we find that women’s empowerment is positively associated with rural women’s political knowledge and opinions. We close by examining opinions towards one controversial policy area with redistributive consequences for men and women—the Family Code, which regulates rights of men and women in marriage, inheritance, and the family. More empowered women are more likely to support pro-woman changes.


Projects Underway 

  • Islam, Christianity, and Attitudes Towards Women: Evidence from Mixed-Religion Countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 2017. Kellogg Working Paper Series #418. Paper with Keith R. Weghorst
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.   

  • The Effect of Performance Transparency on Challenger Entry, Voter Backlash, and the Electoral Success of Incumbents: Experimental Evidence from Uganda with  Guy Grossman 
In this follow up study to to "Information Dissemination, Competitive Pressure, and Politician Performance between Elections: A Field Experiment in Uganda" we examine the effect of a politician performance transparency field experimental intervention on incumbents' electoral success in the following 2016 Ugandan elections. We investigate the intervention's effect on challenger entry and vote share in the primaries and general election. (currently we are assembling electoral results data).

  • Contextual Determinants and Individual Assets in the Development of  Partisanship in Sub-Saharan Africa with  Robin Harding
While state formation and the introduction of multiparty elections in sub-Saharan Africa are relatively more recent compared to other regions, the percentage of citizens attached to political parties is on average higher (at 62%). However, it is puzzling why country levels of partisanship range to a large degree from 23% to 82%. In this study, we examine the degree to which partisanship is determined by contextual factors. We argue that high regime stability, party system institutionalization, presence of an anti-colonial liberation party, and ethnic fractionalization decrease the ``noise'' in the informational environment regarding party positioning and competence, facilitating partisanship. Further, we hypothesize that certain individual assets such as higher education, rural residence,  older age, male gender, and coethnicity with party leaders can enable individuals to overcome noisy informational environments and attach to a party. (data culled and merged, analysis underway).

  • Survey Research Methods in Developing Countries (proposal accepted at Annual Review of Political Science for 2017 issue) with Noam Lupu 
In this project, we document the increase in survey research in the developing world and synthesize the common challenges, and solutions to those challenges, that authors face in conducting such research. We employ, not only, a review of the literature, but also an expert survey of political scientists conducting survey research in developing countries.