Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Virtues of Nonviolent Struggle

The Virtues of Nonviolent Struggle. Stephen Wittels. MIT Working Paper, May 2017, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2981936

Abstract: There is an emerging consensus in the study of mass-based political resistance that successful nonviolent campaigns leave in their wake political conditions suitable for democracy and stability. The following paper subjects this claim to closer scrutiny. Using theory grounded in the study of conflict, revolution, and democratic transition, we make the case that a resistance campaign’s duration is an important driver of its downstream effects. ***Sudden victory is likely to leave important questions about the balance of capabilities between and within interest groups unanswered. It may also create a destabilizing legitimacy deficit for the entity endowed with the status of incumbency once calm is restored***. Further complicating matters, we argue, is the fact that the benefits of struggling en route to victory are not distributed equally across violent and nonviolent movements. To test our precise hypotheses on these points, we examine four post-campaign outcome variables in a large-N framework: levels of democracy, electoral manipulation, coup d'état attempts, and violent conflict. With the aid of flexible modeling and sensitivity analysis, we make the case that ***campaign duration significantly moderates the long-term political effects of mass-based nonviolent resistance, with harder-fought victories yielding more positive outcomes***.

Keywords: Nonviolent, Struggle, Democracy, Stability, Resistance, Campaign

My comment: Is this related to 'The "Hearts and Minds" Fallacy' paper*? It seems that we need to have a big struggle to earn respect.

*  The "Hearts and Minds" Fallacy: Violence, Coercion, and Success in Counterinsurgency Warfare. Jacqueline Hazelton. International Security, Summer 2017, Pages 80-113, http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/ISEC_a_00283

The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States

The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. NBER Working Paper, August 2017, http://www.nber.org/papers/w23657

Abstract: Societies under similar geographic and economic conditions and subject to similar external influences nonetheless develop very different types of states. At one extreme are weak states with little capacity and ability to regulate economic or social relations. At the other are despotic states which dominate civil society. Yet there are others which are locked into an ongoing competition with civil society and it is these, not the despotic ones, that develop the greatest capacity. We develop a dynamic contest model of the potential competition between state (controlled by a ruler or a group of elites) and civil society (representing non-elite citizens), where both players can invest to increase their power. The model leads to different types of steady states depending on initial conditions. One type of steady state, corresponding to a weak state, emerges when civil society is strong relative to the state (e.g., having developed social norms limiting political hierarchy). Another type of steady state, corresponding to a despotic state, originates from initial conditions where the state is powerful and civil society is weak. A third type of steady state, which we refer to as an inclusive state, emerges when state and civil society are more evenly matched. In this case, each party has greater incentives to invest to keep up with the other, and this leads to the most powerful and capable type of state, while simultaneously incentivizing civil society to be equally powerful as well. Our framework highlights that comparative statics with respect to structural factors such as geography, economic conditions or external threats, are conditional — in the sense that depending on initial conditions they can shift a society into or out of the basin of attraction of the inclusive state.

Social Mobility and Political Instability

Social Mobility and Political Instability. Christian Houle. Journal of Conflict Resolution, https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002717723434

Abstract: Does social mobility foster political stability? While there is a vibrant literature on the effect of economic inequality on political unrest, the recent literature has remained silent about the effect of social mobility on instability. Yet, inequality and social mobility, although related, are fundamentally distinct, and immobility is likely to be perceived as even more unfair than inequality, meaning that it may generate at least as much grievances. In this article, I argue that social immobility fuels political instability. To test this hypothesis, I develop an indicator of social mobility covering more than 100 countries worldwide. I then conduct the first large-N cross-national test of the effect of social mobility on political instability to date. Consistent with my argument, I find that countries with low social mobility levels are more likely to experience riots, general strikes, antigovernment demonstrations, political assassinations, guerillas, revolutions, and civil wars.

Election monitors will fail to prevent violence, or will be blamed for causing violence

The Election Monitor's Curse. Zhaotian Luo & Arturas Rozenas. American Journal of Political Science, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajps.12320/abstract

Abstract: Election monitoring has become a key instrument of democracy promotion. Election monitors routinely expect to deter fraud and prevent post-election violence, but in reality, post-election violence often increases when monitors do expose fraud. We argue that monitors can make all elections less fraudulent and more peaceful on average, but only by causing more violence in fraudulent elections. Due to this curse, strategic election monitors can make a positive impact on elections only if their objectives are aligned in a very specific fashion. Monitors who do not aim to prevent violence can be effective only if they are unbiased, whereas monitors who do aim to prevent violence can be effective only if they are moderately biased against the government. Consequently, election monitors with misaligned objectives will fail to prevent violence, whereas monitors with well-aligned objectives will be blamed for causing violence.

How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information

How Sudden Censorship Can Increase Access to Information. William Hobbs & Margaret Roberts. University of California Working Paper, January 2017. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990593

Abstract: Conventional wisdom assumes that increased censorship will strictly decrease access to information. We delineate circumstances when increases in censorship will expand access to information. When governments suddenly impose censorship on previously uncensored information, citizens accustomed to acquiring this information will be incentivized to learn methods of censorship evasion. These tools provide continued access to the newly blocked information and also extend users’ ability to access information that has long been censored. We illustrate this phenomenon using millions of individual-level actions of social media users in China before and after the block of Instagram. We show that the block inspired millions of Chinese users to acquire virtual private networks (VPNs) and join censored websites like Twitter and Facebook. Despite initially being apolitical, these new users began browsing blocked political pages on Wikipedia, following Chinese political activists on Twitter, and discussing highly politicized topics such as opposition protests in Hong Kong.

Keywords: Censorship, Social Media, China, Internet, Communications, Protests, Political Activists

My comment: First, that this increase in access is new, previously this was not possible. Second, again we confirm that we don't suffer well that something is taken away from us...

US Food Aid Increases Incidence and Duration of Civil Conflict in Recipient Countries

The Robust Relationship Between US Food Aid and Civil Conflict. Chi-Yang Chu, Daniel Henderson and Le Wang. Journal of Applied Econometrics, August 2017, Pages 1027–1032. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jae.2558/abstract

Abstract: Humanitarian aid has long been considered an important means to reduce hunger and suffering in developing countries. A recent finding by Nunn and Qian (US food aid and civil conflict, American Economic Review 2014; 104: 1630–1666) that such ***aid from the US increases the incidence and duration of civil conflict in recipient countries***, however, questions the effectiveness of this policy and poses a serious policy concern for the US government. We revisit this issue by conducting a successful replication study of the results in their paper. In order to further scrutinize their claims that a heterogeneous effect of food aid on conflict is not present, we employ a semiparametric endogenous estimation procedure. We show that their parametric models cannot be rejected and argue that their findings are robust.

Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced? Theory and Evidence

Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced? Theory and Evidence. Aaron Chalfin and Justin McCrary. The Review of Economics and Statistics, http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/REST_a_00694

Abstract: We document the extent of measurement errors in the basic data set on police used in the literature on the effect of police on crime. Analyzing medium to large U.S. cities over 1960–2010, we obtain measurement error corrected estimates of the police elasticity. The magnitudes of our estimates are similar to those obtained in the quasi-experimental literature, but our approach yields much greater parameter certainty for the most costly crimes, which are the key parameters for welfare analysis. Our analysis suggests that U.S. cities are substantially underpoliced.

JEL Classification: K42, H76, J18

Content of Everyday Conversations in Iran

What Shall We Talk about in Farsi? Content of Everyday Conversations in Iran. Mahdi Dahmardeh, R. I. M. Dunbar. Human Nature, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-017-9300-4

Abstract: Previous empirical studies have suggested that language is primarily used to exchange social information, but our evidence on this derives mainly from English speakers. We present data from a study of natural conversations among Farsi (Persian) speakers in Iran and show that not only are conversation groups the same size as those observed in Europe and North America, but people also talk predominantly about social topics. We argue that these results reinforce the suggestion that language most likely evolved for the transmission of information about the social world. We also explore sex differences in conversational behavior: while the pattern is broadly similar between the sexes, men may be more sensitive than women are to discussing some topics in the presence of many other people.

Children’s Gender-Typed Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood in Adoptive Families with Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents

Children’s Gender-Typed Behavior from Early to Middle Childhood in Adoptive Families with Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Parents. Rachel H. Farr et al. Sex Roles, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-017-0812-5

Abstract: Gender-typed behaviors—both gender-conforming and nonconforming—were investigated longitudinally among children in 106 adoptive U.S. families with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents at two times (Wave 1, preschool-age; Wave 2, school-age) over 5 years. At Wave 1 (W1), parents reported on children’s gender-typed behavior using the Pre-School Activities Inventory (PSAI; Golombok and Rust 1993), and children’s gender-typed toy play was evaluated using observational methods. At Wave 2 (W2), children reported on their own gender-typed behavior using the Children’s Occupations, Activities, and Traits Personal Measure (COAT-PM; Liben and Bigler 2002). Observations of children’s gender-conforming toy play and parents’ reports of children’s gender nonconformity (PSAI) in early childhood (W1) were associated with children’s self-reports of gender nonconformity (COAT-PM) in middle childhood (W2); toy play was most strongly predictive of gender nonconformity 5 years later. Children’s gender-typed behavior also varied by age and gender at both time points, but no significant differences were found as a function of parental sexual orientation across time. Informative to ongoing debates about same-sex parenting, our findings indicate that among children reared by lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents, gender-typing appears to be similar, and predominantly gender-conforming, across early to middle childhood.

Partner Choice, Investment in Children, and the Marital College Premium

Chiappori, Pierre-André, Bernard Salanié and Yoram Weiss. 2017. "Partner Choice, Investment in Children, and the Marital College Premium." American Economic Review, 107(8):2109-67. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20150154

Abstract: We construct a model of household decision-making in which agents consume a private and a public good, interpreted as children's welfare. Children's utility depends on their human capital, which depends on the time their parents spend with them and on the parents' human capital. We first show that as returns to human capital increase, couples at the top of the income distribution should spend more time with their children. This in turn should reinforce assortative matching, in a sense that we precisely define. We then embed the model into a transferable utility matching framework with random preferences, a la Choo and Siow (2006), which we estimate using US marriage data for individuals born between 1943 and 1972. We find that the preference for partners of the same education has significantly increased for white individuals, particularly for the highly educated. We find no evidence of such an increase for black individuals. Moreover, in line with theoretical predictions, we find that the "marital college-plus premium" has increased for women but not for men.

JEL Classification

D12 Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
J12 Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
J13 Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J15 Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
J24 Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity