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
|October 2018||The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia|
with Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Benjamin Marx: w25151
Why do religious politics thrive in some societies but not others? This paper explores the institutional foundations of this process in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim democracy. We show that a major Islamic institution, the waqf, fostered the entrenchment of political Islam at a critical historical juncture. In the early 1960s, rural elites transferred large amounts of land into waqf—a type of inalienable charitable trust—to avoid expropriation by the government as part of a major land reform effort. Although the land reform was later undone, the waqf properties remained. We show that greater intensity of the planned reform led to more prevalent waqf land and Islamic institutions endowed as such, including religious schools, which are strongholds of the Islamist movement. We identif...
|September 2018||Deterring Illegal Entry: Migrant Sanctions and Recidivism in Border Apprehensions|
with Sarah Burns, Gordon Hanson, Bryan Roberts, John Whitley: w25100
In this paper, we use administrative records from the U.S. Border Patrol to examine how penalizing illegal border crossing affects recidivism in the apprehension of undocumented migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Over 2008 to 2012, the Border Patrol rolled out a Consequence Delivery System, which increased the fraction of apprehended border crossers subject to administrative or criminal sanctions from 15% to 85% percent. By matching fingerprints across apprehension records, we detect if a migrant apprehended by the Border Patrol is subject to penalties and if he is re-apprehended at a later date. Exploiting day-to-day variation in the capacity of the Border Patrol to levy sanctions during the rollout phase, we estimate strong effects of penalties on the likelihood that an apprehended migr...
|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
The presence of a westward-moving frontier of settlement shaped early U.S. history. In 1893, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner famously 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 novel, county-level measure of total frontier experience (TFE). Historically, frontier locations had distinctive demographics and greater individualism. Long after the closing of the frontier, counties with greater TFE exhibit more pervasive individualism and opposition to redistribution. This pattern cuts across known divides in the U.S., including urban–rural and north–south. We provide suggestive evidence on the roots of fro...