How Refugee Resentment Shapes National Identity and Citizen Participation.

As the number of refugees continues to rise globally, so do concerns about responses from host communities. This project examines how the presence of refugees affects national identity formation and political participation for nearby citizens, particularly in understudied developing contexts where state capacity and national attachments are considered low. I theorize that exposure to refugees leads host citizens to more strongly identify with their national identity as a way to distance themselves from a new migrant out-group. Coupled with feelings of relative deprivation with respect to humanitarian aid, this heightened solidarity with co-nationals drives citizen participation in demanding better public goods provision. I test this theory in a border region of Tanzania that has hosted an influx of over 230,000 Burundian refugees since 2015. Drawing on experimental survey and community focus group data of over 2,000 citizens, I find that greater exposure to refugees substantially increases national identification, resource resentment, and participation in public goods. Additional analyses using geo-referenced primary school outcomes and interviews with government and NGO officials suggest positive downstream effects on public goods outcomes. By showing that animosity towards outsiders has consequences for national identity formation and development, this project highlights alternative pathways to nation-building.

Aerial photos of Nyarugusu camp before and after the 2015 Burundian refugee influx. Survey evidence of citizens (N = 2,025) shows that national identification increases with proximity to the camp. Experimental focus group evidence shows that participants (N = 150) treated with a discussion about refugees were more likely to make comments about public goods grievances in their own communities.

Chapters presented at MPSA 2017, APSA 2017, Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University, PolMeth XXXV, APSA 2018, CAPERS Fall 2018 (Columbia University).
Links: Working Paper | Pre-Analysis Plan | Poster | Slides


Can Economic Assistance Shape Combatant Support in Wartime? Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan (with Jason Lyall and Kosuke Imai). Forthcoming at American Political Science 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: Paper | Supplementary materials | Pre-Analysis Plan | Slides | Poster | Monkey Cage Article

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 surprisingly 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.

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 (NYU), WZB Conference on Migration and Diversity 2015, USC Political Science Dept. 2017, Penn State's New Faces in Political Methodology IX.
Links: Working Paper | Slides

Reexamining the Effect of Refugees on Civil Conflict: A Global Subnational Analysis (with Andrew Shaver). Revise and Resubmit.

How does hosting refugees affect the likelihood of conflict? A large literature suggests that the presence of refugees is associated with higher risk of conflict for host countries. Using new global, geo-coded data on locations of refugee communities and civil conflict at the subnational level from 1989 to 2008, we find no support for claims that hosting refugees increases the likelihood of conflict onset or prolongs existing conflict. Moreover, we find that if refugee sites are geographically concentrated to one region within a country, that region experiences substantively large decreases in risk of conflict, especially when hosting formal refugee camps. We contend that in these conditions, state and humanitarian actors can better focus on infrastructure building and other development efforts. Additional analyses examining the density of road networks and interviews with experts on refugee settlement support our claim. To preclude the possibility of selection on unobserved confounders, we use placebo tests to show that there are no effects of future refugee sites on conflict or infrastructural outcomes. This research challenges assertions that refugees are security risks. Instead, we show that hosting refugees is in some cases associated with infrastructural development and conflict risk reduction.

Map of West and Central Africa showing refugee sites and years of conflict onset during our study period. Plot of conditional risk reduction effect of refugee presence.

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

Validated Participation Promotes Self-Efficacy and Citizen Engagement in Development (with Evan Lieberman). Under Review.

Efforts to increase citizen engagement in local governance, particularly in low socio-economic contexts, are frequently ineffective because citizens believe their voices and actions will not be respected by relevant authorities. We conduct two studies with over 2,200 citizens in rural Tanzania to experimentally test whether an intervention designed to socially validate citizens' analytical skills and spoken contributions can positively affect self-efficacy beliefs and increase their engagement. We demonstrate that a relatively simple intervention, developed and implemented in partnership with a local civil society organization, augments citizen self-efficacy beliefs. In a study conducted two years post-treatment, we find higher levels of citizen engagement in schools that received our intervention when compared with those that only received information about the benefits of engagement and those assigned to the control group.

Effects of Validated Participation vs. Information Only on efficacy (Kilosa study, N = 1,633 parents) and school outcomes 2 years later (Bukoba study, N = 24 schools).

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


Migration, Coethnicity, and Citizenship Policy in Africa.

Measuring Identities on Surveys as Bins of Tokens.

Team and Nation? How Sports Rivalry Affects National Identification in Kenya and Tanzania (with Leah Rosenzweig).

Enforcement, Discrimination, and Mobilization for Accountability at the Mexico-U.S. Border (with Hannah Alarian and Marcus Johnson).

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