When Weak Borders Make Strong Nations: How Forced Migration Shapes National Identification and Demand for Public Goods.

A common explanation for poor public service delivery in diverse societies is that citizens do not collectively mobilize around their shared national identity, because they feel greater attachment to subnational identities such as ethnicity. Scholars have examined whether state-led nation-building interventions have succeeded in promoting nationalism and interethnic cooperation. Instead, I argue that even in the absence of top-down interventions, the presence of refugees can lead local citizens to strengthen attachment to their national identity and make increased demands of the state. I test my theory of migrant-driven nationalism in a border region of Tanzania hosting an influx of over 230,000 Burundian refugees since 2015. Using an original survey experiment of over 2000 local citizens and experimental community focus groups, I find that exposure to refugees increases local citizens’ attachment to their national identity and feelings of relative deprivation from observing aid to the refugees. Affected citizens are also more likely to make demands about improving their own communities' public goods, a finding supported by interviews with government officials and humanitarian aid representatives. Next, a difference-in-differences analysis of geo-referenced primary schools in the region shows that post-influx, the quality of host community schools nearest to the camps improve, providing suggestive evidence of downstream effects on public goods provision. Lastly, analysis using the Afrobarometer explores how this theory extends to other refugee-hosting countries. In summary, this project finds that exposure to refugees can spur host citizens to feel closer to their national identity. Together with feelings of relative deprivation over the humanitarian aid in refugee camps, this heightened sense of national solidarity with fellow citizens leads to increased collective mobilization for better public goods provision. This research is especially pertinent given the unprecedented number of forcibly displaced people in the world today, and that the vast majority of them are hosted in developing contexts.

The refugee population in north-west Tanzania across three camps. Aerial photos show Nyarugusu camp before and after the 2015 Burundian influx.

Presented at MPSA 2017, APSA 2017, Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University, PolMeth XXXV, APSA 2018.                                   Links: (Pre-Analysis Plan)


Design and Analysis of the Randomized Response Technique (with Graeme Blair and Kosuke Imai). Journal of the American Statistical Association, Volume: 110, Issue: 511 (September 2015), pages 1304 - 1319.

The randomized response method is a survey technique that seeks to reduce potential bias due to non-response and social desirability when asking questions about sensitive behaviors and beliefs. This survey methodology asks respondents to use a randomization device, such as a coin flip, whose outcome is unobserved by the enumerator. By introducing random noise, the method conceals individual responses and consequently protects respondent privacy. While numerous methodological advances have been made, we find surprising few applications of this promising methodology. In this paper, we address this gap by (1) reviewing standard designs available to applied researchers, (2) developing various multivariate regression techniques for substantive analyses, (3) proposing power analyses to help improve research designs, (4) presenting new robust designs that are based on less stringent assumptions than those of the standard designs, and (5) making all described methods available through open-source software. We illustrate some of these methods with an original survey about militant groups in Nigeria.

Power of four standard designs across probabilities of asking for the truth (x-axis) for N=500 and proportions of .1, .2, and .3 with the sensitive trait. Presented at MPSA 2015.                                                                                                                                                                Links: (Paper) (Replication materials) (Slides)


Refugee Proximity and Support for Citizenship Exclusion in Africa. Revise and Resubmit at the Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

As forced migration reaches unprecedented levels, understanding how it affects local host communities is critical. This article examines how the presence of refugees can change local citizens' opposition to citizenship inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa, an understudied region where sizable refugee populations are hosted. Using new data on the geographic locations of refugee communities, and 35,000 geo-referenced Afrobarometer respondents across 22 countries, I find that citizens who live near refugees in their country are substantially more likely to support restrictions on citizenship access -- particularly with respect to granting birthright citizenship -- compared to fellow citizens farther away. This effect is stronger for newer refugee sites. Placebo tests support the claim that there is no selection on unobserved confounders. Furthermore, citizens near refugees report lower confidence in the national economy and less interpersonal trust, which suggests that the threats they perceive from refugee proximity are both economic and social.

Map of citizen respondents and refugee sites; and effects of refugee site proximity on support for jus sanguinis vs. jus soli citizenship regimes.

Presented at ISA 2014, APSA 2014, CAPERS Spring 2015, WZB Conference on Migration and Diversity 2015, USC Political Science Dept. 2017, Penn State's New Faces in Political Methodology IX.                                                                                                                Links: (Working Paper)

Do Refugees Spread Conflict? (with Andrew Shaver). Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Politics.

As the number of forcibly displaced individuals around the world continues to reach record highs, understanding how their presence affects conflict is a major outstanding academic and policy question. Using new geo-coded data on refugee sites and civil conflict data at the subnational level from 1989 to 2008, we find no support for claims that refugees increase the likelihood of civil conflict where they settle. Moreover, we find that provinces hosting refugee sites experience substantively large decreases in their likelihood of civil conflict, when there are no other provinces hosting refugee sites within the same country for a given year. We confirm these findings when examining heterogeneous effects of formal refugee camps and informal settlements. To exclude the possibility of selection on unobserved confounders, we use placebo tests to show that there are no effects of future refugee sites on conflict outcomes.

Map of civil conflict onset propensity and refugee sites (both formal and informal) for the period 1989 - 2008 at the subnational province level.

Presented at ISA 2014 and APSA 2015.                                                                                                                                           Links: (Working Paper)

The Role of Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Development: Evidence from Tanzania (with Evan Lieberman). Under Review.

Self-efficacy beliefs routinely predict active political participation in advanced democracies, but much less is known about the role of efficacy in developing contexts. We theorize that the link from socio-economic status (SES) to efficacy may be explained by opportunities to experience successful episodes of participation. Thus, while SES is difficult to change in the short run, it may be possible to boost efficacy and active citizenship among poor citizens through exposure to such opportunities. We investigate these propositions in the context of public education in rural Tanzania. First, we detail observational evidence demonstrating a strong relationship between self-efficacy and active citizenship behaviors. Next, we show that a novel meeting-based intervention -- Validated Participation, which affords parents a unique opportunity to discuss evidence, make decisions, and receive validation -- causes a large boost in efficacy among poor parents. We also find suggestive evidence of behavior change in parents reported by teachers.

Effects of Validated Participation (VP) vs. Information only (IW) compared to Control (SO) on measurements of efficacy for poor vs. wealthy parents.

Presented at WGAPE NYU Abu Dhabi 2016, APSA 2017, Yale ISPS Experiments Workshop 2018, Ideas & Evidence at Twaweza East Africa 2018, Harvard Experimental Political Science Graduate Student Conference 2018.                                                                            Links: (Working Paper) (Pre-Analysis Plan) (Slides)

Can Economic Assistance Shape Combatant Support in Wartime? Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan (with Jason Lyall and Kosuke Imai). Under Review.

Governments, militaries, and aid agencies use economic interventions to influence wartime support for combatants. Yet credible evidence of whether these programs can shift support for governments and insurgents remains scarce. We experimentally evaluate a program of livelihood training and one-time unconditional cash transfers on combatant support among 2,597 at-risk youths in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Employing survey methodologies for sensitive questions, we find that training alone has little effect on combatant support. Cash has a boom-and-bust dynamic, initially increasing pro-government sentiment before reversing itself months later, leading to higher Taliban support. When combined with livelihood training, cash increased support for the Afghan government in the medium term. We interpret these results as consistent with a credit capture argument. While each intervention alone was a weak signal of government competency, the combination of training and cash provided participants with sufficient information to revise their beliefs about government performance and responsiveness.

Effects of training (TVET) and cash (UCT) on combatant support measured with endorsement and randomized response at endline and 7 months later.

Presented at the 11th Annual NYU CESS Conference on Experimental Political Science and MPSA 2018.                                                  Links: (Working Paper) (Pre-Analysis Plan) (Slides) (Poster) (Monkey Cage Article)


Migration, Coethnicity, and Citizenship Policy in Africa.

Measuring Identities on Surveys as Baskets of Beads.

Studying Sensitive Questions (with Graeme Blair, Kosuke Imai, and Yuki Shiraito).

The Impact of Community Development Projects on Violence in Afghanistan (with Jason Lyall and Kosuke Imai).