Research

Job Market Paper

Abstract: Extant theories in political psychology and the economics of religion literature separately suggest channels through which economic globalization can increase the religious intensity of certain domestic communities. Since the most prominent religions lay the groundwork for intolerance against those who do not share their beliefs, an uptick in religious intensity is expected to increase the incidence of religious hostilities inside a trading country. This paper makes use of data from 161 countries between 2001 and 2016 in addition to three instruments for trade. The two-stage least squares estimates of the effects of aggregate imports on future social hostilities involving religion in the destination country are significant, positive, and stronger than OLS. Therefore, this paper provides evidence that trade does foster religious hostilities.

Publications

"The empirical relationship between commitment enhancement devices and terrorism" with Prosper Raynold and Jing Li, 2018, Applied Economics 50, 5366-5380.

Abstract: An extant theoretical literature attributes the high lethality of violent extremist religious sects (VERSs) to their comparative advantage in assembling coalitions of highly committed operatives and identifies sacrifice and stigma (S&S) and social service provision (SSP) as the primary commitment enhancement devices VERSs employ. However, lack of direct measures of the VERSs’ deployment of these devices has impeded efforts to test the hypothesized effects of S&S and SSP on terrorism. This article exploits the relationship between exogenous variation in the marginal productivities of S&S and SSP as inputs in the production of commitment and variation in VERSs’ employment of these inputs to identify proxies for S&S and SSP. Using data from 158 countries, our cross-sectional estimates of the effects of S&S and SSP on the impact of terrorism are significant and larger than the effects of geographic and political variables that are consistently reported to be both significant and substantial.

Working Papers

Abstract: This paper studies an overlooked, but potentially important determinant of terrorism: international trade. Since the successful undermining of larger markets confers greater visibility for terrorist organizations, the benefits of terrorism in a country rise with the size of its economy. For this reason, coupled with the close association between trade volume and market size, theory suggests that trade volume can, under certain conditions, have an amplifying effect on terrorism. This paper makes use of data from 161 countries between 2001 and 2017 in addition to three newly generated instruments for trade. The two-stage least squares estimates of the effects of aggregate imports on future terrorism in the destination country are significant, positive, and stronger than OLS. Therefore, this paper provides evidence that trade does promote terrorism.


Abstract: This paper is the first to tackle the simultaneity bias embedded in OLS investigations of the effects of terrorism on trade. By exploiting previous empirical findings, which effectively claim that three distinct measures are both significant predictors of terrorism and excludable from trade models, we explore the possibility that these measures can be used to help clarify the extent to which terrorism negatively impacts trade. With a yearly country-pair dataset between 2007 and 2016, government restrictions on religion, societal restrictions on religion, and tensions between groups are found to perform, in concert, strongly, as exogenous and relevant instruments for terrorism within an augmented gravity model of trade. Specifically, when year and country-pair dummies are included, both sets of instrumental variables easily pass both the relevance and exogeneity tests in addition to reporting a negative and statistically significant relationship between terrorism and trade, which is more than seventy times stronger than that of OLS. Results are also robust to the use of first-difference data. Therefore, we conclude that OLS estimates systematically downplay the negative impact of terrorism on trade, providing new evidence in favor of the possibility that trade actually has a positive effect on terrorism.