Job Market Profile

You have arrived at the job market website for Adlai Newson, a PhD candidate from the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

I am an applied microeconomist who studies advertising and campaign expenditures in a political context. I also have interests in clientelism and democratization in developing countries.

Click here to go to my personal website.

Job Market Paper

My paper looks at the effects of political advertisements on voter behaviour. Specifically, I exploit variation in television ad viewership induced by media market boundaries to identify the causal effects of ad quantity, tone, and content on US Congressional vote share at the county level.


you can contact me at, my supervisor Francesco Trebbi at, and the VSE placement director at Vadim Marmer at

Job Market Paper

The scope and intensity of political advertising has veritably exploded over the last fifteen years of US elections, yet we researchers struggle to understand the effect of these ads on electoral outcomes. I contribute to this literature by estimating the effect of different aspects of this advertising on biannual Congressional election outcomes for the period 2004-2018. I exploit the (fuzzy) discontinuities in advertising at geographic media market boundaries that lie within congressional districts to estimate the effect of advertising intensity, specificity, tone, and content on Congressional vote shares. I find that advertising is indeed a powerful tool for influencing vote shares, but that voters sharply discount ads for other congressional candidates (horizontal spillover) and similarly discount ads for senate and presidential candidates (vertical spillover) when deciding how to vote for their Congressional candidate. I further find that while both positive and negative ads are effective, their effectiveness relies on differences in ad content.


with Francesco Trebbi.

Canadian Journal of Economics, 2018.

We explore the role of ruling elites in autocratic regimes and provide an assessment of tools useful to clarify the structure of opaque political environments. We first showcase the importance of analyzing autocratic regimes as non-unitary actors by discussing extant work on nondemocracies in Sub-Saharan Africa and China, where the prevailing view of winner-take-all contests can be clearly rejected. We show how specific biographical information about powerful cadres helps shed light upon the composition of the inner circles that empower autocrats. We further provide an application of these methods to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), one of the most personalistic, opaque, and data-poor political regimes in the world today. Employing information from DPRK state media on participants at official state events, we are able to trace the evolution and consolidation of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un around the transition period following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. The internal factional divisions of the DPRK are explored during and after this transition. Final general considerations for the future study of the political economy of development are presented

with Christopher Kam.

Elements in Political Economy, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

This Element examines how the changing economic basis of parliamentary elections in nineteenth century England and Wales contributed to the development of modern parties and elections. Even after the 1832 Reform Act expanded the British electorate, elections in many constituencies went uncontested, party labels were nominal, and candidates spent large sums treating and bribing voters. By the end of the century, however, almost every constituency was contested, candidates stood as representatives of national parties, and campaigns were fought on the basis of policies. We show how industrialization, the spread of literacy, and the rise of cheap newspapers, encouraged candidates to enter and contest constituencies. The increased expense that came from fighting frequent elections in larger constituencies induced co-partisan candidates to form slates. This imparted a uniform partisan character to parliamentary elections that facilitated the emergence of programmatic political parties.

Works in Progress