Department of Economics
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
NBER Program Affiliations:
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Information about this author at RePEc
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|May 2018||The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions|
with Matthew Gudgeon: w24625
This paper argues that redrawing subnational political boundaries can transform ethnic divisions. We use a natural policy experiment in Indonesia to show how the effects of ethnic diversity on conflict depend on the political units within which groups are organized. Redistricting along group lines can reduce conflict, but these gains are undone or even reversed when the new borders introduce greater polarization. These adverse effects of polarization are further amplified around majoritarian elections, consistent with strong incentives to capture new local governments in settings with ethnic favoritism. Overall, our findings illustrate the promise and pitfalls of redistricting in diverse countries.
|November 2017||Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of "Rugged Individualism" in the United States|
with Martin Fiszbein, Mesay Gebresilasse: w23997
In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner argued that the American frontier fostered individualism. We investigate the Frontier Thesis and identify its long-run implications for culture and politics. We track the frontier throughout the 1790–1890 period and construct a county-level measure of total frontier experience (TFE). Historically, frontier locations had distinctive demographics and greater individualism. Many decades after the closing of the frontier, counties with greater TFE exhibit more pervasive individualism and opposition to redistribution. Suggestive evidence on the roots of rugged individualism points to selective migration, the adaptive advantage of self-reliance, and opportunities for upward mobility through effort.