Research Library

Working Paper
King, Gary, and Melissa Sands. Working Paper. “How Human Subjects Research Rules Mislead You and Your University, and What to Do About It”. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Universities require faculty and students planning research involving human subjects to pass formal certification tests and then submit research plans for prior approval. Those who diligently take the tests may better understand certain important legal requirements but, at the same time, are often misled into thinking they can apply these rules to their own work which, in fact, they are not permitted to do. They will also be missing many other legal requirements not mentioned in their training but which govern their behaviors. Finally, the training leaves them likely to completely misunderstand the essentially political situation they find themselves in. The resulting risks to their universities, collaborators, and careers may be catastrophic, in addition to contributing to the more common ordinary frustrations of researchers with the system. To avoid these problems, faculty and students conducting research about and for the public need to understand that they are public figures, to whom different rules apply, ones that political scientists have long studied. University administrators (and faculty in their part-time roles as administrators) need to reorient their perspectives as well. University research compliance bureaucracies have grown, in well-meaning but sometimes unproductive ways that are not required by federal laws or guidelines. We offer advice to faculty and students for how to deal with the system as it exists now, and suggestions for changes in university research compliance bureaucracies, that should benefit faculty, students, staff, university budgets, and our research subjects.
Forthcoming
McClendon, Gwyneth H. Forthcoming. “Race and Responsiveness: An Experiment with South African Politicians.” Journal of Experimental Political Science.Abstract
Do politicians engage in ethnic and racial favoritism when conducting constituency service? This article presents results from a replication field experiment with local South African politicians that tested for racial bias in responsiveness to requests about public goods provision. The experiment represents an adaptation of similar experiments conducted in the United States, extending the design to a different institutional environment, albeit one with a similar racially-charged history. Although one might suppose that politicians in South Africa would seek to avoid racial bias given the recent transition to full democracy, I find that South African politicians—both black and white—are more responsive to same-race constituents than to other-race constituents. Same-race bias is evident in both the dominant and the main opposition political parties. Moreover, politicians are not particularly responsive to anyone. Implications for the further study of democratic responsiveness are discussed.
King, Gary, Matthew Blackwell, and James Honaker. Forthcoming. “A Unified Approach to Measurement Error and Missing Data: Details and Extensions.” Sociological Methods and Research. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We extend a unified and easy-to-use approach to measurement error and missing data. In our companion article, Blackwell, Honaker, and King give an intuitive overview of the new technique, along with practical suggestions and empirical applications. Here, we offer more precise technical details, more sophisticated measurement error model specifications and estimation procedures, and analyses to assess the approach’s robustness to correlated measurement errors and to errors in categorical variables. These results support using the technique to reduce bias and increase efficiency in a wide variety of empirical research.
McClendon, Gwyneth H. Forthcoming. “Individualism and Empowerment in Pentecostal Sermons: New Evidence from Nairobi, Kenya.” In African Affairs. Oxford University Press.Abstract
Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are rapidly growing in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and the developing world. In this paper we present new evidence on the theologies and activities of these popular churches, having gathered sermon texts and interview data from a random sample of them in Nairobi, Kenya. We find that Pentecostal churches in Nairobi are remarkably consistent in the messages they disseminate, despite greatvariation in church and membership characteristics across congregations. We argue that the dominant theme in the sermons is a focus on cultivating believers' sense of their own potential and autonomy as individuals. Other topics commonly associated with Pentecostal churches, such as getting rich quickly and social conservatism, are not as central. The focus on individual autonomy also stands in stark contrast to more collectivist agendas of social change. Indeed, the individualist theme is accompanied by a relative lack of social service provision, reflecting an approach to economic development that focuses on individual mental transformation rather than material handouts or systemic reform.
McClendon, Gwyneth H. Forthcoming. “Religion as a Stimulant of Political Participation: Evidence from an Experiment in Nairobi, Kenya.” The Journal of Politics 77 (04).
Viterna, Jocelyn, and Cassandra Robertson. Forthcoming. “

New Directions in the Sociology of Development

.” Annual Review of Sociology 41. Download Paper
Simmons, Beth A, Volha Charnysh, and Paulette Lloyd. Forthcoming. “

Frames and Consensus Formation in International Relations: The Case of Trafficking in Persons

.” European Journal of International Relations.Abstract
This article examines the process of consensus formation by the international community on how to confront the problem of trafficking in persons. We analyze the corpus of UNGA Third Committee resolutions to show that (1) consensus around the issue of how to confront trafficking in persons has increased over time; and (2) the formation of this consensus depends on how the issue is framed. We test our argument by examining the characteristics of resolutions’ sponsors and discursive framing concepts such as crime, human rights, and the strength of enforcement language. We conclude that the consensus formation process in international relations is more aptly described as one of “accommodation” through issue linkage than a process of persuasion.
frame_and_consensus_eijr.pdf
Simmons, Beth A, and Richard A Nielsen. Forthcoming. “

Rewards for Ratification: Payoffs for Participating in the International Human Rights Regime?

.” International Studies Quarterly.Abstract
Among the explanations for state ratification of human rights treaties, few are more common and widely accepted than the conjecture that states are rewarded for ratification by other states. These rewards are expected to come in the form of tangible benefits - foreign aid, trade, and investment - and intangible benefits such as praise, acceptance, and legitimacy. Surprisingly, these explanations for ratification have never been tested empirically. We summarize and clarify the theoretical underpinnings of "reward-for-ratification" theories and test these propositions empirically by looking for increased international aid, economic agreements and public praise and recognition following ratification of four prominent human rights treaties. We find almost no evidence that states can expect increased tangible or intangible rewards after ratification. Given the lack of empirical support, alternative explanations seem more appealing for understanding human rights treaty ratification.
Download Paper
Simmons, Beth A, and Judith Kelley. Forthcoming. “Politics by Number: Indicators as Social Pressure in International Relations.” American Journal of Political Science.Abstract
The ability to monitor state behavior has become a critical tool of international governance. Systematic monitoring allows for the creation of numerical indicators that can be used to rank, compare and essentially censure states. This article argues that the ability to disseminate such numerical indicators widely and instantly constitutes an exercise of social power, with the potential to change important policy outputs. It explores this argument in the context of the United States’ efforts to combat trafficking in persons and find evidence that monitoring has important effects: countries are more likely to criminalize human trafficking when they are included in the US annual Trafficking in Persons Report, while countries that are placed on a “watch list” are also more likely to criminalize. These findings have broad implications for international governance and the exercise of soft power in the global information age.
kelley_and_simmons_ajps.pdf
Asad, Asad, and Tamara Kay. Forthcoming. “

Theorizing the Relationship Between Ngos and the State in Medical Humanitarian Development Projects

.” Social Science and Medicine, 1-9. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Social scientists have fiercely debated the relationship between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the state in NGO-led development projects. However, this research often carries an implicit, and often explicit, anti-state bias, suggesting that when NGOs collaborate with states, they cease to be a progressive force. This literature thus fails to recognize the state as a complex, heterogeneous, and fragmented entity. In particular, the unique political context within which an NGO operates is likely to influence how it carries out its work. In this article, we ask: how do NGOs work and build relationships with different types of states and – of particular relevance to practitioners – what kinds of relationship building lead to more successful development outcomes on the ground? Drawing on 29 in-depth interviews with members of Partners in Health and Oxfam America conducted between September 2010 and February 2014, we argue that NGOs and their medical humanitarian projects are more likely to succeed when they adjust how they interact with different types of states through processes of interest harmonization and negotiation. We offer a theoretical model for understanding how these processes occur across organizational fields. Specifically, we utilize field overlap theory to illuminate how successful outcomes depend on NGOs' ability to leverage resources – alliances and networks; political, financial, and cultural resources; and frames – across state and non-state fields. By identifying how NGOs can increase the likelihood of project success, our research should be of interest to activists, practitioners, and scholars.
aasad_ngos.pdf
2015
Nye, Joseph S., Jr.. 2015. “The Limits of Chinese Soft Power.” Today's Zaman. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In 2007, then-President Hu Jintao told the Communist Party that the country needed to increase its soft power; President Xi Jinping repeated the same message last year. They know that, for a country like China, whose growing economic and military power risks scaring its neighbors into forming counter-balancing coalitions, a smart strategy must include efforts to appear less frightening. But their soft-power ambitions still face major obstacles.
Simmons, Beth A, and Cosette Creamer. 2015. “.” In International Studies Association. New Orleans, Louisiana.
Human rights treaty bodies have for many years now been criticized as useless and self-reporting widely viewed as a whitewash. Yet very little research explores what, if any, influence this periodic review process has on governments’ implementation of and compliance with treaty obligations. We argue oversight committees may play an important role by providing information for international and domestic audiences. This paper examines the effects of self-reporting and oversight review, using original data on the quality and responsiveness of reports submitted to the Committee Against Torture (CmAT) and a dynamic approach to strengthen causal inference about the effects of the periodic review process on rights practices. We find that the review process in fact does reduce the incidence of torture in self-reporting states. Furthermore, we find that local media attention to the process in Latin American spikes during the review process, consistent with domestic awareness and mobilization made possible by media attention to torture practices and treaty obligations. Thus, this is the first study to present positive evidence on the effects of self-reporting on torture outcomes, contrary to the many studies that assert the process is basically useless.
creamersimmons_isa2015.pdf
Mylonas, Harris. 2015. “Methodological Problems in the Study of Nation-Building: Behaviorism and Historicist Solutions in Political Science.” Social Science Quarterly 96 (3): 740-758. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The goal of this article is to highlight the methodological problems involved in the study of nation-building and propose solutions. I identify three categories of methodological problems that flow from respective practices in social science research: (i) inferring intentions from observed behavior or outcomes; (ii) relying on census data to infer a country's ethnic diversity; and (iii) arbitrary periodization and anachronism, that is, attributing certain actions to concepts and/or phenomena that were not politically salient or even understood by the actors under study.
King, Gary, Konstantin Kashin, and Samir Soneji. 2015. “Systematic Bias and Nontransparency in Us Social Security Administration Forecasts.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 29 (2): 239-258. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The financial stability of four of the five largest U.S. federal entitlement programs, strategic decision making in several industries, and many academic publications all depend on the accuracy of demographic and financial forecasts made by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Although the SSA has performed these forecasts since 1942, no systematic and comprehensive evaluation of their accuracy has ever been published by SSA or anyone else. The absence of a systematic evaluation of forecasts is a concern because the SSA relies on informal procedures that are potentially subject to inadvertent biases and does not share with the public, the scientific community, or other parts of SSA sufficient data or information necessary to replicate or improve its forecasts. These issues result in SSA holding a monopoly position in policy debates as the sole supplier of fully independent forecasts and evaluations of proposals to change Social Security. To assist with the forecasting evaluation problem, we collect all SSA forecasts for years that have passed and discover error patterns that could have been—and could now be—used to improve future forecasts. Specifically, we find that after 2000, SSA forecasting errors grew considerably larger and most of these errors made the Social Security Trust Funds look more financially secure than they actually were. In addition, SSA's reported uncertainty intervals are overconfident and increasingly so after 2000. We discuss the implications of these systematic forecasting biases for public policy.
King, Gary, Matthew Blackwell, and James Honaker. 2015. “A Unified Approach to Measurement Error and Missing Data: Overview and Applications.” Sociological Methods and Research, 1-39. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Although social scientists devote considerable effort to mitigating measurement error during data collection, they often ignore the issue during data analysis. And although many statistical methods have been proposed for reducing measurement error-induced biases, few have been widely used because of implausible assumptions, high levels of model dependence, difficult computation, or inapplicability with multiple mismeasured variables. We develop an easy-to-use alternative without these problems; it generalizes the popular multiple imputation (MI) framework by treating missing data problems as a limiting special case of extreme measurement error, and corrects for both. Like MI, the proposed framework is a simple two-step procedure, so that in the second step researchers can use whatever statistical method they would have if there had been no problem in the first place. We also offer empirical illustrations, open source software that implements all the methods described herein, and a companion paper with technical details and extensions (Blackwell, Honaker, and King, 2014b).
Kertzer, Joshua D, and Brian C Rathbun. 2015. “Fair Is Fair: Social Preferences and Reciprocity in International Politics.” World Politics. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Behavioral economics has shown that people often diverge from classical assumptions about self-interested behavior: they have social preferences and are concerned about issues of fairness and reciprocity. Social psychologists show that these preferences vary across actors, with some displaying more prosocial value orientations than others. Integrating a laboratory bargaining experiment with original archival research on Anglo-French and Franco-German diplomacy during the interwar period, the authors show how fairness and reciprocity matter in social interactions. That prosocials do not exploit their bargaining leverage to the degree that proselfs do helps explain why some pairs of actors are better able to avoid bargaining failure than others. In the face of consistent egoism on the part of negotiating partners, however, prosocials engage in negative reciprocity and adopt the same behaviors as proselfs.
King, Gary. 2015. “Preface: Big Data Is Not About the Data!.” In Computational Social Science: Discovery and Prediction. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A few years ago, explaining what you did for a living to Dad, Aunt Rose, or your friend from high school was pretty complicated. Answering that you develop statistical estimators, work on numerical optimization, or, even better, are working on a great new Markov Chain Monte Carlo implementation of a Bayesian model with heteroskedastic errors for automated text analysis is pretty much the definition of conversation stopper. Then the media noticed the revolution we’re all apart of, and they glued a label to it. Now “Big Data” is what you and I do. As trivial as this change sounds, we should be grateful for it, as the name seems to resonate with the public and so it helps convey the importance of our field to others better than we had managed to do ourselves. Yet, now that we have everyone’s attention, we need to start clarifying for others—and ourselves—what the revolution means. This is much of what this book is about.
Is the American Century Over?
Nye, Joseph S., Jr.. 2015. Is the American Century Over?. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Abstract
For more than a century, the United States has been the world's most powerful state. Now some analysts predict that China will soon take its place. Does this mean that we are living in a post-American world? Will China's rapid rise spark a new Cold War between the two titans? In this compelling essay, world renowned foreign policy analyst, Joseph Nye, explains why the American century is far from over and what the US must do to retain its lead in an era of increasingly diffuse power politics. America's superpower status may well be tempered by its own domestic problems and China's economic boom, he argues, but its military, economic and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come.
Kertzer, Joshua D, and Ryan Brutger. 2015. “Decomposing Audience Costs: Bringing the Audience Back into Audience Cost Theory.” American Journal of Political Science. Publisher's VersionAbstract
According to a growing tradition in International Relations, one way governments can credibly signal their intentions in foreign policy crises is by creating domestic audience costs: leaders can tie their hands by publicly threatening to use force since domestic publics punish leaders who say one thing and do another. We argue here that there are actually two logics of audience costs: audiences can punish leaders both for being inconsistent (the traditional audience cost), and for threatening to use force in the first place (a belligerence cost). We employ an experiment that disentangles these two rationales, and turn to a series of dispositional characteristics from political psychology to bring the audience into audience cost theory. Our results suggest that traditional audience cost experiments may overestimate how much people care about inconsistency, and that the logic of audience costs (and the implications for crisis bargaining) varies considerably with the leader's constituency.
Cohen, Roger. 2015. “Counterrevolutionary Russia.” New York Times. Publisher's Version
New York Times op-ed written by Roger Cohen on June 25, 2015 from the 2015 WCFIA Talloires Conference that was held on June 19–21, 2015.