+ 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.

Presented at MPSA 2015.

Links: (Paper) (Replication materials)


+ How Refugees Affect Conceptions of Citizenship in Africa.

As forced migration reaches unprecedented levels, understanding how it impacts local, host communities is critical. This article examines how the presence of refugees affects the ways natives conceptualize citizenship. Using new data on refugee sites provided by the UNHCR and 35,000 geo-referenced Afrobarometer respondents across 22 countries, I find that citizens who live near refugees in their country are more likely to endorse restrictions on citizenship access, especially with respect to granting birthright citizenship. A placebo test using future refugee sites supports the claim that this relationship is causal. Citizens near refugees also report lower confidence in the national economy and less interpersonal trust, suggesting that they feel threatened both economically and symbolically. These findings have implications for border politics and boundary-making in African nation-states.

Presented at ISA 2014, APSA 2014, CAPERS Spring 2015, and the Third Annual WZB Conference on Migration and Diversity 2015.

+ How Refugees Can Shape National Boundaries by Challenging Them: Evidence from Tanzania.

A common claim about contemporary African politics is that citizens feel low attachment to their nation relative to subnational identities such as ethnicity. This project offers a theory of boundary-making in which pressures generated from weak borders lead citizens in border regions to stengthen their attachment to their national identity. Through elite interviews, focus groups, and an original geo-coded survey experiment of over 2000 citizen respondents living around a rapidly expanding refugee camp in rural Tanzania, this project finds that the presence of refugees substantially increases local citizens’ attachment to their national identity and decreases their attachment to ethnic identities. Whether this increase in national solidarity leads to more active citizenship is unclear; only when nearby citizens are informed about the conflict that displaced refugees are they more likely to demand for or contribute to better public goods provision for their own communities.

Presented at MPSA 2017.

+ Do Refugees Spread Conflict or Bring Stability? (with Andrew Shaver).

As the number of forcibly displaced individuals around the world reaches 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 conflict data at the subnational level from 1989 to 2008, we find no support for claims that refugee settlement increases the likelihood of conflict onset or incidence. Instead, we find that, conditional on having no other refugee sites present in the same country-year, provinces hosting refugee sites experience substantively large decreases in their likelihood of both conflict onset and incidence. We confirm these findings when examining heterogeneous effects of formal refugee camps and informal settlements. To exclude the possibility of unobserved confounders, we use placebo tests to show that there are no effects of future refugee sites on past conflict outcomes. We theorize that the influx of humanitarian and government attention, assistance, infrastructure to refugee sites may increase the stability of these settlement areas; we use nighttime lights satellite data and case studies to explore this further.

Presented at ISA 2014 and APSA 2015.


+ Can Validated Participation Boost Parental Efficacy and Active Citizenship in the Education Sector? An RCT with Twaweza in Tanzania (with Evan Lieberman).

Can changing parents' beliefs about their own efficacy strengthen learning conditions and improve learning outcomes? Previous scholarship show that merely informing citizens about the quality (or lack of) in their public services see only at best, mixed effects on increased citizen engagement. We argue that a crucial obstacle preventing parents from taking an active role in their child's education -- even when they are fully informed -- is parents' belief that such engagement is beyond their abilities and influence. To test this hypothesis, we propose an intervention that provides parents with not only (1) high-quality information about how to become more involved in their child's learning; but also (2) opportunities to become aware of their own skills and abilities to affect change through an intervention we call Validated Participation. Our design isolates the effects of information, opportunities for parental input, and parents' beliefs, while holding actual investment of material resources constant across conditions. The proposed intervention contributes to the large literature debating the effects of information on active citizenship, while testing the existence of an important missing link: citizens' beliefs about the efficacy of their efforts to engage.

Presented at WGAPE NYU Abu Dhabi 2016.

+ Reducing Insurgent Support Among At-Risk Populations: Experimental Evidence from Cash Transfers and Livelihood Training in Afghanistan (with Kosuke Imai and Jason Lyall).

Can economic development interventions improve stability in conflict settings? This project is a factorial, randomized control trial of INVEST, a vocational training program conducted by Mercy Corps and unconditional cash transfers (UCT) provided separately. We examine whether and how economic development programming and UCTs can address deep-seated social and political frustrations that drive young people into supporting armed opposition groups (AOGs). Participants are vulnerable youth populations, including Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan, based in and around Kandahar City and the three neighboring districts of Dand, Daman and Arghandab.

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

+ Measuring Identities on Surveys as Baskets of Beads