Greening Foreign Aid: How International Efforts to Promote Clean Energy Backfire (job market paper)
AbstractGreening foreign aid is a vital step in the fight against climate change. However, international promotion of climate-friendly policies may come at a perceived cost of development support. As international actors withdraw their support from fossil fuel projects and move towards renewable sources, the distributional effects of these policies can create backlash against both international funders and their domestic allies in developing countries. I use a spatial difference-in-differences design to show that the withdrawal of World Bank support for a coal plant in Kosovo altered voting patterns for pro-international parties; coal-producing areas voted disproportionately against this party in the wake of withdrawal. However, places with potential for investment in renewables voted for the pro-international party. While international organizations can incentivize climate-friendly policies in developing nations, these interventions reshape the distribution of economic benefits in recipient countries. In the global fight against climate change, who bears the cost of international action may determine the interventions' fate.
A political economy of aid and legitimacy (Under review)
Abstract While some scholars find that recipient citizens credit domestic governments for aid, other scholars see aid credited to international donors. I theorize the conditions under which aid recipients will credit donors or governments. I start from two stylized facts: 1) aid is politically targeted and 2) aid features a long chain of diverse actors. The political targeting of aid leads political allies of the domestic government to expect, and often receive, large shares of aid. However, politically excluded groups can observe this phenomenon and do not expect to receive targeted aid from domestic governments. When politically excluded groups receive aid, they attribute less credit to the government, instead crediting international organizations with the aid. Using ethnicity as a salient and visible political cleavage, I show that when ethnic groups are excluded from political power, they do not credit governments with foreign aid. This pattern reverses when aid is non-excludable, where government involvement is visible, and spatial ethnic segregation low. By targeting aid at ethnic minorities, international organizations may create perverse incentives for domestic governments to further shift funding away from ethnic minorities if targeting these groups offers few domestic political benefits.
Aid, blame, and backlash (Under review)
Abstract Donors use foreign aid to promote liberal values such as democracy and multicul- turalism in developing countries. An under-explored dimension of foreign aid is aid to ethnic minorities. I show that donors explicitly target ethnic minority groups in countries across the world. How does foreign aid for ethnic minorities affect politics in recipient countries? I argue that minority aid comes at a cost (real and perceived) to ethnic majority groups; the blame for this aid is then placed on political representa- tives. Novel observational and experimental evidence finds three significant challenges to donor support for minority aid: 1) minority aid reduces the amount of general aid, 2) citizens oppose politicians who acquire minority aid and support anti-minority parties, and 3) citizens are willing to forgo substantial aid to prevent minority aid targeting. Donor attempts to help vulnerable populations may lead to backlash that empowers anti-minority actors, making the political landscape of recipient countries more dangerous for the groups they sought to aid.
Innovation and Interdependence: The Case of Gene-Editing Technology (with Tyler Pratt) (draft)
Abstract Technological breakthroughs often reshape patterns of international exchange and interdependence, posing unique challenges for governments. We argue that innovation reduces policy autonomy among national governments in two ways. First, lower barriers to entry create opportunities for forum-shopping by researchers, rms, and other actors. This facilitates regulatory arbitrage as actors evade national rules by relocating to more permissive jurisdictions. Second, public unease about new technologies creates the potential for backlash against controversial applications. This backlash can spill across borders: accidents or misuse in one jurisdiction undermine support for research and commercial development elsewhere. Together, these processes can generate ine cient cycles of accelerated progress disrupted by damaging controversies. We test these mechanisms in the case of gene editing, nding support for the theory in data on scienti c employment patterns and a survey experiment examining public backlash. Our results demonstrate that technological disruption increases interdependence and undermines states' ability to regulate in isolation.
The possibilities and limits of international status: evidence from foreign aid and public opinion (with Lauren Ferry) (Under review)
Abstract States use symbolic gestures to increase their international status, or relative position, within the international community. But how do the status-seeking actions of one state affect the status of others? The common assumption is that improvements in one state's status lead to the relative deterioration of other states' status by comparison. In this paper, we focus on status' social qualities to delineate multiple theoretical pathways through which one state's status can change -- or not -- relative to another. Status is not conferred in a vacuum and the consequences of status-altering activities may spill over to third-parties. We field an original survey and reanalyze several existing studies to understand how relative status operates in the case of foreign aid; these surveys reveal novel empirical patterns about the circumstances under which a state's status will update relative to other states. Our results demonstrate how focusing on any single definition of status may blind observers to changes along other dimensions and fundamentally alter the conclusions drawn about status-changing activity.