Research

Committees and Distortionary Vagueness

(with Colin Krainin) (Last updated September 2017)

We study a model of a generalized committee, for example a legislature or legislative subcommittee, bargaining over how precisely to transmit information to the mass public. In our model, biased committee members have an incentive to distort the public's behavior by making vague communications. We demonstrate two principal results. First, delegating decision making to a committee with an agenda-setting chair frequently reduces vagueness relative to delegating to an individual or a committee with no agenda setter. Second, when the committee chair and the median committee member are biased in opposing directions on an issue, more precise information is provided than when the chair and committee are of like bias. 

Explaining Instability in the Stability and Growth Pact: The Contribution of Member State Power and Euroskepticism to the Euro Crisis

(with Mark Hallerberg) (Last updated December 2015)

Published in Comparative Political Studies 

The Stability and Growth Pact clearly failed to prevent the euro crisis.  We contend that the failure was due largely to the ability of the Member States to undermine the Pact's operation. The European Commission served as a ``watchdog" to monitor fiscal performance. The Member States themselves, however, collectively had the ability to change the content of the reports for individual states. We confirm the expectation that powerful Member States had the most success in undermining the role of the Commission. Perhaps more surprisingly, we find supporting evidence for our argument that governments with euroskeptic populations behind them were also more successful in weakening the Commission's warnings. These results have broader theoretical implications concerning which mechanisms explain country-specific outcomes under a shared rule. Another contribution is the creation a new dataset of European Commission assessments of Member State economic programmes and Council of Minister revisions. 

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Documenting the Unauthorized: Political Responses to Unauthorized Immigration

(with Julie Hotchkiss and Myriam Quispe-Agnoli) (Forthcoming, Economics and Politics)

Cultural prejudice rather than self interest is the conventional wisdom for why voters respond negatively to immigration. Using a new measure of unauthorized immigrants based on self-reported invalid social security numbers, we show that voters' responses are more nuanced than mere prejudice against minorities. Using county level data from the U.S. state of Georgia, we find that voters in counties with above median levels of unauthorized workers are more likely to support the Republican party. We also find that wealthier counties and wealthier voters are most likely to respond negatively to the unauthorized. Our evidence warns against arguments that depict opposition to immigration as motivated solely by xenophobia and cultural fears among lower income whites. 

A Textual Taylor Rule: Estimating Central Bank Preferences Combining Topic and Scaling Methods

(with Will Lowe) (Last Updated April 2017)

Scholars often use voting data to estimate central bankers' policy preferences but consensus voting is common. To get around this, we combine topic-based text analysis and scaling methods to generate theoretically motivated comparative and dynamic measures of central bank preferences on the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee leading up to the financial crisis (2005 - 2008) in a way that does not depend on voting. We apply these measures to a number of applications in the literature. We confirm that committee members on schedule to vote are more likely to express consensus opinion than their off schedule voting counterparts and show that it is Dovish rather than Hawkish members who are more likely to want to amend the official policy statement.