Real-time Surveillance of Repression: Theory and Implementation
We study a dynamic model of protest and mobilization, in which the international community may intervene to sanction certain actions by the regime. We find that sanctioning public acts of repression, such as beating or arrests of protesters, can encourage the regime to prevent protest through less public means, such as obstruction or harassment of organizers. We show how to circumvent this problem by inferring the regime’s efforts to prevent protest from the extent to which protest can be predicted in advance. We create a global, monthly index of protest prevention using a novel database of protest events that includes information on whether a protest was planned or anticipated in advance. We illustrate the value of the index by studying its evolution during the COVID-19 pandemic and other salient events. The international community can use the index to pressure regimes to permit protest.
This paper supersedes our working paper, “Measuring the Tolerance of the State.” We acknowledge funding from the Data Science Initiative, the Population Studies and Training Center, the Eastman Professorship, and the JP Morgan Chase Research Assistant Program at Brown University, and the Kenneth C. Griffin Economics Research Funds at Harvard University. We are grateful to the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names for sharing their database of country names and official languages with us in a convenient form, and to the Global Sanctions Database for answering our questions. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding or data sources. We thank Tariq Ahmad, Isaiah Andrews, Dan Björkegren, Ray Fair, Ben Feigenberg, Fred Finan, Terry Fletcher, Bård Harstad, Lihua Lei, David I. Levine, Eduardo Montero, David Yang, audiences at Brown University, Georgetown University, Reichman University (IDC Herzliya), Harvard University, ETH Zurich, the Cowles Foundation, SSE/SITE, Stockholm University, the NBER, UNC Chapel Hill, NYU, the GLPET, the AEA, and the University of Chicago, and especially discussants Brian Knight and Jorge Lemus for comments and suggestions. We thank our many dedicated research assistants for their contributions to this project.The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Jesse M. Shapiro
Shapiro has, in the past, been a paid visitor at Microsoft Research New England and a paid consultant for FutureOfCapitalism, LLC. Shapiro has been paid for writing by the New York Times.
Shapiro's spouse has a disclosure statement posted at https://emilyoster.net/about/.