Research

Methodologically, I am interested in the application of causal inference to machine learning and text analysis under a Bayesian framework. Substantively, I use the interaction between microeconomic models and empirical work to study political economy, with particular focus on party institutionalization and elections in authoritarian regimes.

Working Papers

1) Using Regulation Bias to Maintain Regime Stability: Agricultural Distortions in Authoritarian Regimes, 1972–2010

(Please email me for the most recent draft.) We extend the Stigler-Peltzman theory of government regulation to authoritarian regimes in order to develop a more general “general theory of regulation.” Policy is affected by politicians’ marginal rate of substitution between producers’ and consumers’ support. In the political market, leaders are either responsive to the highly organized special interests for monetary support, or to the mass for electoral support, which is manifested in votes in democracies, and lack of protests in the context of authoritarian regimes. Using panel data of 2,729 country-years over the period of 1972–2010, we find evidence that incumbent regimes display different patterns in agricultural regulations, dependent on whether they are under the special interest pressure from producers, or “electoral” pressure from consumers: Authoritarian leaders lower food price in order to maintain stability in the urban area, while democratic leaders are more likely to pass regulations that favor the highly organized agricultural producers. We also demonstrate that the effect of civil unrest on regime policy is short-run in authoritarian regimes, which suggests that autocrats use policy concession as an instrument when they have little incentive for institutionalization. This finding sheds light on the growing literature on authoritarian rule.

Work in Progress 

1) Militant Military: Resources, Control, and Repression in Authoritarian Regimes

(Please email me for the most recent draft.)

2) Dissent, Social Mobility, and Authoritarian Regime Stability

(Earlier drafts presented at MPSA 2017, SPSA 2016, and Wabash College 2016) When people are dissatisfied with domestic politics, they are more likely to revolt. When possible, leaving where they live is also an option to voice one’s anger. To what extent does social mobility affect authoritarian regime stability? Employing collective action event data in China from 2010 to 2015, I conduct an analysis on the relationship between social mobility and regime stability. The implication of the paper is twofold. First, the findings suggest numerous opportunities and potential perils for single-party politics, especially when political elites face the challenge of increasing grassroots collective action. Furthermore, the research sheds light on the dynamics of social mobility, protests, and regime stability, thus bridging to a wider audience in the comparative politics discipline.

3) Grassroots Nationalism on Chinese Social Media: A Content Analysis

(Earlier drafts presented at MPSA 2016) What do ordinary Chinese citizens really think about the government? Although the logic and political implications of censorship in China have been studied, research on the grassroots nationalist activities on Chinese social media remains scant. Oftentimes, a nationalist Weibo (microblog) gets reposted as the Chinese netizens collectively argue that the ruling party is indeed improving Chinese citizens’ lives. Such trends are more obvious during national events such as a military parade. Why did nationalist ideas emerge and get popular on Chinese social media on a grassroots level? And to what extent do they affect Chinese Communist Party’s ruling over its population? The article employs a computer-assisted text analytic method to study citizens’ reactions to specific nationalist Weibos, in order to systematically investigate the emergence and distribution of grassroots nationalist ideas on social media in China.

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