Research

Publication

“Presidents and the Conditional Core-Swing Targeting of the National Subsidy in South Korea, 1989-2018.” Forthcoming. Journal of East Asian Studies.

To explain how presidents use their strong budgetary powers to manipulate the distribution of the national subsidy in South Korea, I present a theory of conditional core-swing targeting that focuses on the competition for majority control in legislative elections. Presidents whose parties already possess a legislative majority are expected to favor core municipalities to strengthen the foundations of their majority constituency, whereas those who seek majority control are predicted to prioritize swing municipalities in an effort to cross the majority threshold. Presidents are also anticipated to respond to the electoral cycle by shifting subsidies to riskier municipalities when elections approach. Using a novel data set on national subsidy allocations that spans three decades, I find evidence in favor of the hypotheses. This article demonstrates that the beneficiaries of distributive favoritism are not fixed, and that politicians can engage in complex and varied targeting strategies to achieve their objectives.

The online appendix is available HERE.

Dissertation (Job Market Paper)

Party System Institutionalization in Democracies: Concept, Measurement, and Implications

Party system institutionalization—which concerns the stability and predictability of interparty competition—is considered to be a critical component of a healthy and well-functioning democracy as it enables voters to hold parties accountable, facilitates cooperation and coordination between parties, and makes the implementation of consistent policies possible. However, despite more than two and a half decades of research, empirical evidence that substantiates theories about how and the extent to which PSI matters across a broad range of democratic contexts is surprisingly scarce, and this shortcoming can be attributed in good part to conceptual ambiguity and the absence of a comprehensive measure. To facilitate global comparative studies of party system institutionalization, I first construe the concept as a process in which parties establish and repeatedly interact under institutions, which promotes stability and predictability by informing perceptions and setting expectations about parties and their probable behaviors. I then construct a corresponding measure using a Bayesian latent variable measurement approach, which takes advantage of my extensive data collection project on the partisan composition of 96 post-WWII democracies. The resulting Party System Institutionalization Scores data set presents the most expansive measure of party system institutionalization to date, and exhibits more robust empirical associations with theorized correlates of party system institutionalization than existing measures. The conceptual understanding and associated measure presented in this paper should contribute to the formulation and testing of more systematic theories about the causes and consequences of party system institutionalization across democracies.

The online appendix for the job market paper is available HERE.

Working Paper

Party System Institutionalization and Stability in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes (with Michael Bernhard and Allen Hicken)

In this paper, we investigate the role that party system institutionalization, which has mostly been studied in democratic contexts, plays in the durability of competitive authoritarian regimes. To this end, we evaluate whether legislative seat volatility—the standard indicator of party system institutionalization—has meaningful and perhaps unique implications for competitive authoritarian regimes. We argue that it does carry useful information by signaling the ability of the ruling party to manage the opposition parties by maintaining a collusive equilibrium, but that aggregate levels of electoral volatility are often too crude to be able to make confident inferences about the connection between volatility and the stability of competitive authoritarian regimes. Instead, we argue that the standard measures of volatility used to study democracy need to be disaggregated and refined, and thus distinguish between different types of volatility for ruling and opposition parties. We also investigate the utility of further dividing opposition party volatility into Type-A and Type-B volatility in line with more recent research on democratic systems. We use an original dataset to examine the association between different forms of volatility and the survival of competitive authoritarian regimes. The results show a robust association between both decreases in the ruling party’s seat share and Type-B opposition volatility with regime breakdown in the form of democratization.

Working Paper

Party Systems, the Policymaking Environment, and the Public Goods Expenditures

Party systems are consequential for policymaking in democracies; they determine which parties sit at the policymaking table and thus the set of policymaking outcomes. In this paper, I examine how two fundamental parameters of party systems—their degree of institutionalization and nationalization—shape public goods expenditures in democracies. Party system institutionalization has been linked to public goods provision as it lengthens time-horizons and fosters accountability so that parties can coordinate and maintain long-term policies that promote national development. Similarly, party system nationalization is highlighted as another crucial predictor of public goods provision as it ties parties to a broader constituency and encourages them to supply policies that are targeted at the national level. However, I argue that simply having the capacity to successfully implement future-oriented national policies holds less meaning when parties cater to regional constituencies and prefer targeted goods, just as it makes little difference if parties desire such policies but are unable to effectively implement them in the absence of institutionalized interactions. Using my novel data set on party system institutionalization which covers 96 post-WWII democracies, I show that both the institutionalization and nationalization of the party system are required to achieve higher levels of public goods expenditures. Interestingly, the results indicate that the institutionalization of the party system sans nationalization can even have a detrimental impact on public goods expenditures by enabling regional parties to coordinate on a set of narrowly targeted policies. This finding supports the understanding that party system institutionalization is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the functioning of democracy; it can facilitate interparty coordination, but the outcome of such coordination may not always have salutary implications.

Working Paper

The Role of Economic Decline and Malaise in the Rise of Extreme-Nationalist Populism (with Robert J. Franzese, Jr., Diogo Ferrari, Hayden Jackson, Byung Koo Kim, and Patrick Wu)

In recent years, the support for extreme-nationalist populist politicians and parties has grown in developed European as well as in developing Latin American nations. Two “competing” explanations in the literature have been offered to account for the rise of populist, anti-elite, extreme nationalist attitudes: economic malaise and cultural or status threat. We view these two explanations as not at all competing; rather, they are deeply connected and intertwined. In this paper, we argue that individual reactions to economic malaise are shaped by their sociocultural perceptions nurtured in heterogeneous personal and neighborhood experiences. Our theoretical prediction suggests that there will be heterogeneous groups within the samples that vary in their reaction to economic malaise. To gain empirical leverage on these heterogeneous and intertwined causal relations, we employ a novel method called hdpGLM. In our preliminary analyses on the replication of Mutz (2018), hdpGLM confirms the presence of multiple latent clusters in the data that differ in how economic malaise relates to the support for extremist parties.