Do Natural Resources Really Cause Civil Conflict?

“Do Natural Resources Really Cause Civil Conflict? Evidence from the New Global Resources Dataset,” by Michael  Denly, Michael Findley, Joelean Hall, Andrew Stravers, and James Walsh, has been accepted at Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Abstract: Scholars have long examined the relationship between natural resources and conflict at the country level. More recently, researchers have turned to subnational analyses, using either individual countries or subnational data for a small number of resources in sub-Saharan Africa. We introduce a new sub-national dataset of 197 resources that adds many resource types, locations, and countries from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. To demonstrate the value of the new dataset, we examine how conflict incidence varies with the value of the collective set of resources in a given location using world prices. We then introduce new country-specific price data, which are more relevant for conflict dynamics. Since country-specific prices can be endogenous to conflict, we instrument country-specific prices using U.S. and world prices. We find that subnational resource wealth is associated with higher levels of conflict using some specifications, though the results vary widely by data source and world region. Using the instrumental variables strategy lends the strongest support to this positive relationship, but only for African countries.

External Validity: Forthcoming Paper at Annual Review of Political Science

Michael Findley’s, Kyosuke Kikuta’s and Michael Denly’s paper, “External Validity,” has been accepted at Annual Review of Political Science.

Abstract: External validity captures the extent to which inferences drawn from a given study’s sample apply to a broader population or other target populations. Social scientists frequently invoke external validity as an ideal, but they rarely attempt to make rigorous, credible external validity inferences. In recent years, methodologically-oriented scholars have advanced a flurry of work on various components of external validity, and this article reviews and systematizes many of those insights. We first clarify the core conceptual dimensions of external validity and introduce a simple formalization that demonstrates why external validity matters so critically. We then organize disparate arguments about how to address external validity by advancing three evaluative criteria: Model Utility, Scope Plausibility, and Specification Credibility. We conclude with a practical aspiration that scholars supplement existing reporting standards to include routine discussion of external validity. It is our hope that these evaluation and reporting standards help re-balance scientific inquiry, such that the current obsession with causal inference is complemented with an equal interest in generalized knowledge.

Zoltan Barany: The Gulf Monarchies and Gulf Defense Establishments

Zoltan Barany has published an article and Cambridge elements manuscript.

“The Gulf Monarchies and Israel:From Aversion to Pragmatism” (The Middle East Journal)

Abstract: The relationship between most of the Gulf monarchies and Israel has improved in recent years. This article argues that four fundamental reasons account for the shift in Gulf leaders’ attitudes: growing alignment of geopolitical interests against Iran, failings of American Middle East policy, recognition of the potential economic benefits of détente, and attitudinal shifts about the Palestinian cause. While this trend is present nearly throughout the Gulf, individual states’ evolving nexuses to Israel underscore the divergences in their foreign policies.

The Political Economy of Gulf Defense Establishments:

The six monarchies on the Arabian Peninsula have devoted enormous sums to defense in past decades. Nevertheless, the gap between their expensive armaments and their capacity to deter aggression and/or project military strength has narrowed but little in that time. This Element takes a political economy approach and argues that structural factors inherent in the Gulf states’ political systems prohibit civilian oversight of the defense sector and are responsible for this outcome. Lax restraints on military outlays, in turn, enable widespread corruption, lead to large-scale waste, and account for the purchasing of unneeded, unsuitable, and incompatible weapons systems. The Element explores the challenges caused by plummeting oil prices and the resulting budget cuts and considers the development of domestic defense industries in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, intended as a part of their economic diversification program. The setbacks of the Saudi-led coalition’s on-going war in Yemen starkly illustrate the narrative.


Kurt Weyland: Assault on Democracy

Kurt Weyland has published Assault on Democracy: Communism, Fascism, and Authoritarianism During the Interwar Years

From the introduction: Does the recent wave of right-wing populism foreshadow a revival of fascism? To elucidate this question, this book examines the politics of fascism, authoritarianism, and Communism during the interwar years. In this way, the study sheds light on the reversal of liberal progress during this era, which brought the frequent downfall of democracy and the proliferation of authoritarianism and fascism. This autocratic riptide arose from a massive backlash against Communism and from conservative elites’ wariness of fascism and their preference for authoritarian rule.

Rachel Wellhausen: Contingent Advantage? Sovereign Borrowing, Democratic Institutions and Global Capital Cycles

Rachel Wellhausen (with Cameron Ballard-Rosa and Layna Mosley) has published “Contingent Advantage? Sovereign Borrowing, Democratic Institutions and Global Capital Cycles” in the British Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: How do domestic and global factors shape governments’ capacity to issue debt in primary capital markets? Consistent with the ‘democratic advantage’, we identify domestic institutional mechanisms, including executive constraints and policy transparency, that facilitate debt issuance rather than electoral events. Most importantly, we argue that the democratic advantage is contingent: investors’ attention to domestic politics varies with conditions in global capital markets. When global financial liquidity is low, investors are risk-averse, and political risk constrains governments’ capacity to borrow. But when global markets are flush, investors are risk-tolerant and less sensitive to political risk. We support our argument with new data on 245,000 government bond issues in primary capital markets – the point at which governments’ costs of market access matter most – for 131 sovereign issuers (1990–2016). In doing so, we highlight the role of systemic factors, which are under-appreciated in much ‘open economy politics’ research, in determining access to capital markets.

The price of doing business: Why replaceable foreign firms get worse government treatment

Rachel Wellhausen (and Leslie Johns) published “The price of doing business: Why replaceable foreign firms get worse government treatment” in Economics & Politics.

Abstract: We argue that a host government treats foreign firms better if those foreign firms have fewer replacements. We identify a key structural determinant of replaceability: the startup costs that foreign firms must incur to begin production. Since the host government can only take from foreign firms that actually produce in its market, it must treat foreign firms better when their startup costs are high, lest the government drive all foreign firms out. Our theoretical model applies contemporary trade theory to foreign direct investment and provides insights about the understudied relationship between foreign and domestic firms. Most importantly, it endogenizes market entry and exit, establishing the importance of entry despite scholars’ long‐time focus on exit. Our analysis uses cross‐national firm‐level data on taxes and production outcomes, and we provide a new industry‐level measure of government treatment of foreign firms.

Collective Deterrence in the Shadow of Shifting Power

Julianne Phillips and Scott Wolford published, “Collective Deterrence in the Shadow of Shifting Power,” in International Studies Quarterly.

Abstract: Twelve of twenty-six war-winning coalitions since 1815 have seen at least two members go to war against one another after victory. What separates durable and fragile war-winning coalitions? To answer this question, we analyze a game-theoretic model of shifting intra-coalition power and collective deterrence. We show that (1) shifting power within war-winning coalitions can undermine commitments to the postwar settlement, but (2) revisionist threats from a powerful defeated side can enhance the credibility of commitments within the winning coalition, securing peace when intra-coalition war would otherwise be inevitable. We also recover these patterns in empirical models of the outbreak of war between former coalition partners: shifting power within a coalition is associated with increased probabilities of intra-coalition war, but only when the defeated side is not too powerful. A common enemy can thus preserve peace between former partners who would otherwise go to war over the terms of shared victory.

HW Perry: Human Rights Issues, and the Elitification of the U.S. Supreme Court

HW Perry has two new publications:
Abstract: Unlike thirty years ago, human rights issues are now routinely raised in Australian constitutional cases. In this article, the authors examine the role of the amicus curiae in the United States Supreme Court and consider how far and to what extent the amicus curiae device has been accepted in decisions of the High Court of Australia. The authors analyse the High Court’s treatment of applications for admissions as amici curiae, noting the divergent approaches taken by Chief Justice Brennan and Justice Kirby, and drawing attention to the practical difficulties faced by applicants who seek admission to make oral submissions. Human rights cases raise questions of minority rights that should not be adjudicated without input from those minorities. The authors recommend that Australia adopt the U.S. approach, to admit written submissions as a matter of course, and to allow applicants to make oral submissions when they have a serious and arguable point to make. This approach is consistent with the Court’s significant role of establishing legal policy norms for the entire nation, including for the identity groups that increasingly occupy the Court’s attention. The focus here is on Australia, but the argument for the role of amici is more general and might well apply to high courts elsewhere.
“The Elitification of the U.S. Supreme Court and Appellate Lawyering,” 72 S.C. L. Rev. 245 (2020): 245-304.  

Campaign Effects and the Elusive Swing Voter in Modern Machine Politics

Ken Greene published “Campaign Effects and the Elusive Swing Voter in Modern Machine Politics” in Comparative Political Studies.

Abstract: Are vote-choice buying attempts successful? Much research across the social sciences argues that political machines expertly turn citizens into clients, undermining core aspects of democracy. Using insights from behavioral theories of vote choice, I argue that standard partisan campaigns can diminish vote-choice buying’s efficiency. Machines face a targeting problem: Local brokers identify good clients using long-term markers but then campaigns shift many citizens’ vote-relevant attitudes in ways that brokers cannot detect, leading to targeting errors. Vote-choice buying remains effective on recipients who are unmoved by the campaigns, but this group is small where campaigns are influential. Tests using panel surveys from Mexico’s 2000 and 2012 elections measure vote-buying attempts with direct questions and list experiments, employ various measures of campaign influence, and rely on new and existing estimation techniques. The findings yield a more optimistic view of the quality of elections in new democracies than current literature implies.

Public Reactions to International Legal Institutions: The International Criminal Court in a Developing Democracy

Terry Chapman (and Stephen Chaudoin) has published, “Public Reactions to International Legal Institutions: The International Criminal Court in a Developing Democracy,” in Journal of Politics.

Abstract: We examine public attitudes concerning a possible investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). We hypothesize that citizens tend to display lower levels of support for investigations in their own country than hypothetical ones abroad. We further argue that this decrease in support is moderated by a citizen’s “proximity” to the investigation. Both perpetrators and victims of alleged crimes can be hesitant about legal interventions, with the former fearing prosecution and the latter fearing the loss of a fragile peace. We use a survey experiment about the ICC in Kyrgyzstan that randomly assigned respondents to a control group, asked about foreign investigations, and a treatment group, asked about an investigation into recent local violence. Treatment lowered otherwise relatively high approval for investigations. This effect was strongest in regions most proximate to the violence, especially among coethnics of victims. Our findings help explain why support for international law can vary widely across subnational constituencies.

Albertson, Guiler: Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms

Bethany Albertson and Kim Guiler published, “Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms,” in Research and Politics.

Abstract: Under what conditions does conspiratorial rhetoric about election rigging change attitudes? We investigated this question using a survey experiment the day before and the morning of the 2016 US presidential election. We hypothesized that exposure to conspiratorial rhetoric about election interference would significantly heighten negative emotions (anxiety, anger) and undermine support for democratic institutions. Specifically, we expected that Democrats who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Russians in US elections, and that Republicans who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Democratic Party in US elections would express less support for key democratic norms. Our evidence largely supported our hypotheses. Americans exposed to a story claiming the election would be tampered with expressed less confidence in democratic institutions, and these effects were moderated by prior partisan beliefs about the actors most likely responsible for election meddling.

Recent Faculty Publications, Awards, News, Op-Eds, etc.

Bethany Albertson: Winner of the Southern Political Science Association 2020 Erika Fairchild Award

Joe Amick, Terry Chapman, and Zach Elkins: “On Constitutionalizing a Balanced Budget,Journal of Politics

Dan Brinks (and co-authors): The Politics of Institutional Weakness in Latin America, Cambridge

Jason Brownlee: 2019-20 President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award

John Gerring, Kyosuke Kikuta, and Daniel Weitzel (with co-authors) “Why Monarchy? The Rise and Demise of a Regime Type,Comparative Political Studies

Ken Greene: Campaign Effects and the Elusive Swing Voter in Modern Machine Politics,Comparative Political Studies

Stephanie Holmsten and Rob Moser (and co-author):  Winners of the Leon Weaver Award for the best paper in APSA’s Representation and Electoral Systems section, for their paper, “The Election of Minority Women: Ethnic Parties, Ethnic Seats, and Gender Quotas.”

Nathan Jensen and Calvin Thrall: “Elon Musk got millions in tax breaks,Washington Post

Bryan Jones: Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Bryan Jones, Michelle Whyman and Sean Theriault: awarded the 2020 Richard F. Fenno, Jr., Prize by the Legislative Studies Section of APSA for their book, The Great Broadening: How the Vast Expansion of the Policymaking Agenda Transformed American Politics

Bob Luskin (and co-authors): “Does Deliberation Increase Public-Spiritedness?” (forthcoming in Social Science Quarterly); (and co-authors): “Deliberative Distortions? Homogenization, Polarization, and Domination in Small Group Discussions” forthcoming in British Journal of Political Science

Eric McDaniel: “Why are People Dying to go to Church?Soujourners

Scarlett Neeley, who worked with Sean Theriault and Alison Craig as an undergraduated, was a semifinalist in the University Co-op George H. Mitchell Student Awards competition, for her project, “Problem Solvers or Problem Creators: The Problem Solvers’ Caucus and Polarization in the United States House of Representatives.”

Thomas Pangle: Socrates Founding Political Philosophy in Xenophon’s “Economist”, “Symposium”, and “Apology”, University of Chicago Press

David Prindle made the Alcalde‘s “Texas Ten”

Devin Stauffer: “Locke on the Limits of Human Understanding,Interpretation

Jeffrey Tulis: ongoing, in The Bulwark

Jeffrey Tulis: “The Traditional Interpretation of the Pardon Power is Wrong,The Atlantic

Jeffrey Tulis and Nicole Mellow: “The Inheritance of Loss: A Symposium on Jeffrey K. Tulis and Nicole Mellow, Legacies of Losing in American Politics,” Political Theory

Hannah Walker: Mobilized by Injustice: Criminal Justice Contact, Political Participation and Race, winner of the 2020 APSA Racial and Ethnic Politics Section Best Book Award

Kurt Weyland: “Populism’s Threat to Democracy: Comparative Lessons for the United States,Perspectives on Politics

Scott Wolford: “War and diplomacy on the world stage: Crisis bargaining before third parties,Journal of Theoretical Politics



Gibson and Shaw: Politics as Unusual

Nadine Ginbson and Daron Shaw and I published an article in Social Science Quarterly, “Politics as Unusual? Exploring Issues and the 2016 Presidential Vote” (

Conclusion: Relative to other Republican presidential candidates, Trump was more effective in tapping into anti‐political feelings prior to the Republican Convention. By the general election, issue perceptions of Trump were similar to those we see for most Republican presidential candidates. Feelings toward third‐party candidates, however, were more strongly structured by an anti‐politics dimension.

Xiaobo Lü: Recent Publications

Xiaobo Lü’s article “Policy Coalition Building in an Authoritarian
Legislature: Evidence from China’s National Assemblies (1983–2007)”
(with Mingxing Liu and Feiyue Li)  is forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies, as is
“The Sources of De Facto Power and Education Provision: Understanding Local Government Incentive in China” (with Mingxing Liu) in Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

Shannon Bow O’Brien: Why Presidential Speech Locations Matter

Palgrave published Shannon Bow O’Brien’s book, Why Presidential Speech Locations Matter: Analyzing Speechmaking from Truman to Obama.

Decription: This book explores speeches by American presidents. Domestic public presidential speechmaking helps us understand the pressures, priorities, and targeted audiences of different presidencies.  Many administrations generally work to reinforce already existing support though some may try to reach out to new areas.  Census areas help us better understand where presidents prioritize speeches in certain areas of the country. Designated Market Areas, or media markets, allow us to look at presidential speechmaking without geographical constraints and focus on areas of population concentrations.  Electoral College results show that most administrations prefer to give speeches in places where they have the most electoral support to reinforce their bases. The chapter on vacation locations explores how some presidents use Camp David or their homes as places to actively speak, while some administrations just use them as retreats. Foreign speeches allow us to see that most presidents prefer to speak in openly free countries more than other places.

Ben Gregg: Recent Publications

“The Coming Political Challenges of Artificial Intelligence” in Ramón Reichert, Mathias Fuchs, Pablo Abend, Annika Richterich, and Karin Wenz, eds., Digital Culture & Society

“How to Read for Current Developments in Human Genetics Relevant to Justice” in Politics and the Life Sciences

“Self-Isolation Should Not Be an Indigenous Human Right” in Monções: Revista de Relações Internacionais da Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados

Thomas Pangle: The Socratic Way of Life

The University of Chicago Press has published Thomas Pangle’s The Socratic Way of Life: Xenophon’s “Memorabilia:”  – The first book-length study in English of the philosophic teaching of Xenophon’s masterwork. Inspired by Hegel’s and Nietzsche’s assessments of Xenophon as the true voice of Socrate as founder of political philosophy, this book establishes Xenophon’s MEMORABILIA as the groundwork of all subsequent political philosophy.

Stephen Jessee: Estimating Ideology

Stephen Jessee’s “(How) Can We Estimate the Ideology of Citizens and Political Elites on the Same Scale?” appeared in the October 2016 issue of American Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: Estimating the ideological positions of political elites on the same scale as those of ordinary citizens has great potential to increase our understanding of voting behavior, representation, and other political phenomena. There has been limited attention, however, to the fundamental issues, both practical and conceptual, involved in conducting these joint scalings, or to the sensitivity of these estimates to modeling assumptions and data choices. I show that the standard strategy of estimating ideal point models using preference data on citizens and elites can suffer from potentially problematic pathologies. This article explores these issues and presents a technique that can be used to investigate the effects of modeling assumptions on resulting estimates and also to impose restrictions on the ideological dimension being estimated in a straightforward way.

Ami Pedahzur: Policy Entrepreneurs, Terrorism

Ami Pedahzur’s “Policy change inch by inch: Policy entrepreneurs in the Holy Basin of Jerusalem” (with Ilana Speizman and Ori Swed) was published in Public Administration.

“The Gap between Participation and Violence: Why We Need to Disaggregate Terrorist ‘Profiles’ – A Research Note” (with Arie Perliger and Gabriel Koehler-Derrick) was published in International Studies Quarterly, and (with Arie Perliger) “Counter-Cultures, Group Dynamics and Religious Terrorism” appeared in Political Studies.

Amy Liu: Language and Economic Growth

Amy Liu’s “The Language of Economic Growth: A New Measure of Linguistic Heterogeneity” (with Elise Pizzi) is forthcoming in British Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: Conventional wisdom holds that languages, as ethnic markers, build communities with shared preferences and strong social networks. Consequently, ethnolinguistic homogeneity can facilitate growth. This article challenges this conception of language as a cultural marker. It argues that language is also a practical vehicle of communication; people can be multilingual, and second languages can be learned. Hence language boundaries are neither (1) congruent with ethnic boundaries nor (2) static. If true, the purported advantages of ethnolinguistic homogeneity should also be evident in countries with large populations of non-native speakers conversant in official languages. The study tests this hypothesis using an original cross-national and time-variant measure that captures both mother-tongue speakers and second-language learners. The empirical results are consistent with the understanding of language as an efficiency-enhancing instrument: countries with exogenously high levels of heterogeneity can avoid the ‘growth tragedy’ by endogenously teaching the official language in schools.

Kurt Weyland: Patterns of Diffusion

Kurt Weyland’s “Patterns of Diffusion: Comparing Democratic and Autocratic Waves” appeared in the November 2016 issue of Global Policy.

Abstract: This essay examines why the diffusion of autocratic rule tends to unfold more slowly, yet with greater effectiveness (‘success’) than pro-democratic waves often do. A precedent of progressive regime change often inspires fairly unorganized crowds in many other countries to initiative spontaneous emulation efforts, as it happened in the revolutions of 1848 and the Arab Spring of 2011. Yet this lack of organization creates a high risk of failure. By contrast, the overthrow of democracy, which can also stimulate imitation attempts, is usually spearheaded by well-established organizations, such as the military, which jump on the bandwagon less rashly, but pursue their goals more effectively. Therefore, autocratic waves advance with lower speed, yet greater ‘success’ than pro-democratic riptides often do, as was evident in the diffusion of authoritarianism and fascism during the interwar years and the spread of military dictatorships in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s.

Chris Wlezien: US Presidential Elections in Comparative Perspective

Chris Wlezien’s “Policy (Mis)Representation and the Cost of Ruling: US Presidential Elections in Comparative Perspective,” is forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies.

Abstract: The cost of ruling effect on electoral support is well established. That is, governing parties tend to lose vote share the longer they are in power. Although we know this to be true, we do not know why it happens. This research examines whether the cost of ruling results at least in part from the tendency for governing parties to shift policy further away from the average voter. It first considers differences in political institutions and how they might influence cost of ruling owing to policy drift, and then tests the hypothesis focusing on U.S. presidential elections, which is an unfavorable case to find such an effect. Results confirm a clear cost of ruling effect in these elections and demonstrate that policy misrepresentation is an important mechanism. That is, the policy liberalism of presidents from different parties diverges over time as their tenure in the White House increases, and the degree to which it does matters for the presidential vote. Policy is not the only thing that matters, and other factors, in particular the economy, are more powerful. From the point of view of electoral accountability, however, the results do provide good news, as they indicate that substantive representation is important to voters. Elections are not simply games of musical chairs.

Lorraine Pangle: Xenophon and Ambition

Lorraine Pangle’s “Xenophon on the Psychology of Supreme Political Ambition,” is forthcoming in American Political Science Review.

Abstract: This study illuminates Xenophon’s teaching about the underlying psychological motives of the most fully developed political ambition. An analysis of what the Cyropaedia portrays as the interplay among Cyrus’s spiritedness, justice, benevolence, piety, and cultivation of an aura of divinity leads to an unveiling of supreme ambition’s deepest root: not the desire for power as such, nor the love of justice, but the desire to be a quasi-divine benefactor. The article traces the development of this ambition from its earliest manifestations in the young Cyrus’s puppylike spiritedness, through his hope-filled rise to power, to his grim mature rein and his death, showing how a shadowy concern for immortality drives him in ways he is reluctant to see or acknowledge.