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.
1) Autocrats’ Toolkit: Policy Bias and Political Instability in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes
(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
Apathy by Choice: Strategic Disengagement in Authoritarian Regimes