In addition to my dissertation, I have a number of additional ongoing projects as part of my research on international conflict and security. Below is a list of current working papers and a brief abstract describing each project.
“Sowing the Seeds.” With Scott Tyson.
Abstract: Extremist groups are a persistent feature of the developing world, but what explains the political prominence of these organizations? Existing explanations tend to focus on the quality of governance, arguing that extremist groups survive because governments are incapable of defeating them; however, this can occur through several distinct channels. In this paper, we propose an alternative, tactical explanation that emphasizes the importance of the recruitment efforts of extremist leaders and its link to the government’s aggressiveness in countering extremism. In particular, our explanation focuses on the unique role of ideological indoctrination, and the upstream strategic incentives that indoctrination creates. We develop a model that studies the interaction between an established extremist group leadership, the security wing of the government, and the civilian population. Because indoctrinated citizens will oppose the government without coordinating efforts of extremist leaders, government security efforts targeting organizational aspects of the extremist group become less valuable as more citizens become indoctrinated. We also examine how changes in economic conditions affect how much effort extremist leaders are willing to invest in indoctrinating citizens.
“Eager Hearts and Indoctrinated Minds.” With Jessica Sun and Scott Tyson.
Abstract: We study competing investments in human capital by governments and insurgent groups. The government balances the benefit of a higher-skilled population with the risk that educated citizens will defect and fight the regime. Insurgents have the advantage of indoctrinating part of the population, ensuring support but at the cost of reduced education. Our framework highlights a novel effect of strategic indoctrination, which strengthens insurgent capacity. Specifically, we find indoctrination increases the amount of anti-regime activity, but not necessarily the insurgency’s effectiveness. Furthermore, we identify conditions under which the government underinvests in education to balance the risk between educating citizens—making them more highly skilled for economic participation—versus inadvertently strengthening future insurgent effectiveness. We develop a theory linking investment in education under the threat of insurgency to intentional under-provision of education, with implications for the effectiveness of insurgent and counterinsurgent activities. We then consider the effect of foreign investment in the education sector and its downstream effects on both domestic expenditures and conflict outcomes. We examine the possibility that foreign aid may substitute for government provision of education in times of internal conflict, leaving the regime without the institutional capacity to develop human capital after the cessation of hostilities.
“Measuring Audience Costs in Militarized Deterrent Disputes.” With Nadiya Kostyuk and James Morrow.
Abstract: When and why do leaders make concessions in international disputes? Recent years have seen a proliferation of empirical research on the effect of audience costs in crisis bargaining. This research has generated important new insights on how to detect and measure audience costs. While most of the existing works measure audience costs according to a single crisis bargaining model, this project estimates audience costs by considering the differences between deterrent and compellent threats. To test the implications from each of these types of threats, we apply a structural statistical model to codings of instances of coercive diplomacy in the 1918-2015 International Crisis Behavior dataset. Our findings provide evidence that when deterrent threats are made, audience costs affect states’ decisions about whether to challenge the threat and escalate the crisis, or let the crisis lapse over time.