Research Library

Gopinath, Gita. 2011. Fiscal Devaluations.Abstract
We show that even when the exchange rate cannot be devalued, a small set of conventional fiscal instruments can robustly replicate the real allocations attained under a nominal exchange rate devaluation in a standard New Keynesian open economy environment. We perform the analysis under alternative pricing assumptions—producer or local currency pricing, along with nominal wage stickiness; under alternative asset market structures, and for anticipated and unanticipated devaluations. There are two types of fiscal policies equivalent to an exchange rate devaluation—one, a uniform increase in import tariff and export subsidy, and two, an increase in value-added tax and a uniform reduction in payroll tax. When the devaluations are anticipated, these policies need to be supplemented with a reduction in consumption tax and an increase in income taxes. These policies have zero impact on fiscal revenues. In certain cases equivalence requires in addition a partial default on foreign bond holders. We discuss the issues of implementation of these policies, in particular, under the circumstances of a currency union.
Co-author Emmanuel Farhi is a professor of economics at Harvard University. Co-author Oleg Itskhoki is a professor of economics at Princeton University.Download PDF
Martin, Lenore G. 2011. Addressing ‘the Kurdish Question’. Publisher's VersionAbstract
It is obvious that the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s “zero problems with the neighbors” policy no longer works, in the face of Turkey’s support for the Syrian defectors who oppose the Assad regime. The foreign minister must now deal with potentially hostile reactions by Syria and its closest ally, Iran, that could have destabilizing regional implications. Iran, for one, cannot afford to allow the Assad regime to fail. It provides Iran with a foothold in the Levant from which to support Hezbollah and threaten Israel on its Lebanese border. Syrian and Iranian retaliation against Turkey can readily take the form of support for the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or P.K.K. This group once again has become increasingly violent in its promotion of Kurdish separatism in the Turkish southeast. Syria, Iran and Turkey share a common cause in resisting demands by Kurdish opposition movements in their countries. Only months ago, all three were cooperating in suppressing the P.K.K. For Turkey, this was a welcome change from the 1990s, when Syria and Iran supported the P.K.K. in order to pressure Ankara for foreign policy concessions. Now Damascus and Tehran could again play the P.K.K. card. To counteract potential Syrian and Iranian subversion and the separatist appeals of the P.K.K., Turkey needs to adapt its zero problems policy to its own southeast. In 2009, the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a “Kurdish opening”—a bid at reconciliation with Turkey’s Kurds. However, he quickly closed it, leaving many Kurdish demands for economic development, political rights and cultural recognition unanswered. The Turkish foreign minister’s recent veiled threat to send troops across the Syrian border may be insufficient to deter Syria and Iran from subversively supporting the P.K.K. For a comprehensive resolution of the “Kurdish question,” Ankara also needs to implement effective policies that will over the long term improve the economic, political, and cultural life of Turkey’s Kurds.
Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea, 1876-1945
Uchida, Jun. 2011. Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea, 1876-1945. Harvard University Asia Center. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Between 1876 and 1945, thousands of Japanese civilians—merchants, traders, prostitutes, journalists, teachers, and adventurers—left their homeland for a new life on the Korean peninsula. Although most migrants were guided primarily by personal profit and only secondarily by national interest, their mundane lives and the state’s ambitions were inextricably entwined in the rise of imperial Japan. Despite having formed one of the largest colonial communities in the twentieth century, these settlers and their empire-building activities have all but vanished from the public memory of Japan’s presence in Korea.Drawing on previously unused materials in multi-language archives, Jun Uchida looks behind the official organs of state and military control to focus on the obscured history of these settlers, especially the first generation of “pioneers” between the 1910s and 1930s who actively mediated the colonial management of Korea as its grassroots movers and shakers. By uncovering the downplayed but dynamic role played by settler leaders who operated among multiple parties—between the settler community and the Government-General, between Japanese colonizer and Korean colonized, between colony and metropole—this study examines how these “brokers of empire” advanced their commercial and political interests while contributing to the expansionist project of imperial Japan.
Frankel, Jeffrey. 2011. A Comparison of Product Price Targeting and Other Monetary Anchor Options, for Commodity Exporters in Latin America, Economia. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Seven possible nominal variables are considered as candidates to be the anchor or target for monetary policy. The context is countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), which tend to be price takers on world markets, to produce commodity exports subject to volatile terms of trade, and to experience procyclical international finance. Three candidates are exchange rate pegs: to the dollar, euro and SDR. One candidate is orthodox Inflation Targeting. Three candidates represent proposals for a new sort of inflation targeting that differs from the usual focus on the CPI, in that prices of export commodities are given substantial weight and prices of imports are not: PEP (Peg the Export Price), PEPI (Peg an Export Price Index), and PPT (Product Price Targeting). The selling point of these production-based price indices is that each could serve as a nominal anchor while yet accommodating terms of trade shocks, in comparison to a CPI target. All seven nominal anchors deliver greater overall nominal price stability in our simulations than the inflationary historical monetary regimes actually followed by LAC countries (with the exception of Panama). A dollar peg does not particularly stabilize domestic commodity prices. As hypothesized, a product price target generally does a better job of stabilizing the real domestic prices of tradable goods than does a CPI target. CPI-targeters such as Brazil, Chile, and Peru respond to increases in world prices of imported oil with monetary policy that is sufficiently tight to appreciate their currencies, an undesirable property. A Product Price targeter or PEP country would respond to increases in world prices of its commodity exports by appreciation, a desirable property.
Tingley, Dustin, Kosuke Imai, and Luke Keele. 2011. Unpacking the Black Box of Causality: Learning about Causal Mechanisms from Experimental and Observational Studies, American Political Science Review. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Identifying causal mechanisms is a fundamental goal of social science. Researchers seek to study not only whether one variable affects another but also how such a causal relationship arises. Yet commonly used statistical methods for identifying causal mechanisms rely upon untestable assumptions and are often inappropriate even under those assumptions. Randomizing treatment and intermediate variables is also insufficient. Despite these difficulties, the study of causal mechanisms is too important to abandon. We make three contributions to improve research on causal mechanisms. First, we present a minimum set of assumptions required under standard designs of experimental and observational studies and develop a general algorithm for estimating causal mediation effects. Second, we provide a method for assessing the sensitivity of conclusions to potential violations of a key assumption. Third, we offer alternative research designs for identifying causal mechanisms under weaker assumptions. The proposed approach is illustrated using media framing experiments and incumbency advantage studies.
Civilization: The West and The Rest
Ferguson, Niall. 2011. Civilization: The West and The Rest. Penguin USA. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years. All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations. How did the West overtake its Eastern rivals? And has the zenith of Western power now passed? In Civilization: The West and the Rest, bestselling author Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning in the fifteenth century, the West developed six powerful new concepts that the Rest lacked: competition, science, the rule of law, consumerism, modern medicine, and the work ethic. These were the "killer applications" that allowed the West to leap ahead of the Rest, opening global trade routes, exploiting newly discovered scientific laws, evolving a system of representative government, more than doubling life expectancy, unleashing the Industrial Revolution, and embracing a dynamic work ethic. Civilization shows just how fewer than a dozen Western empires came to control more than half of humanity and four fifths of the world economy. Yet now, Ferguson argues, the days of Western predominance are numbered-not because of clashes with rival civilizations, but simply because the Rest have now downloaded the six killer apps we once monopolized-while the West has literally lost faith in itself. Civilization does more than tell the gripping story of the West's slow rise and sudden demise; it also explains world history with verve, clarity, and wit. Controversial but cogent and compelling, Civilization is Ferguson at his very best.
Hornbeck, Richard. 2011. The Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer: Agricultural Adaptation to Groundwater and Climate. National Bureau of Economic Research. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Agriculture on the American Great Plains has been constrained by historical water scarcity. After World War II, technological improvements made groundwater from the Ogallala aquifer available for irrigation. Comparing counties over the Ogallala with nearby similar counties, groundwater access increased irrigation intensity and initially reduced the impact of droughts. Over time, land-use adjusted toward water-intensive crops and drought-sensitivity increased; conversely, farmers in water-scarce counties maintained drought-resistant practices that fully mitigated higher drought-sensitivity. Land values capitalized the Ogallala's value at $26 billion in 1974; as extraction remained high and water levels declined, the Ogallala's value fell to $9 billion in 2002.
NEBR Working Paper #17625.Co-Author Pinar Keskin is a Professor of Economics at Wellesley College.Download PDF
Chinn, Menzie D, and Jeffry Frieden. 2011. America as Argentina, Harvard Magazine. Publisher's Version
His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire
Bose, Sugata. 2011. His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire. Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The man whom Indian nationalists perceived as the “George Washington of India” and who was President of the Indian National Congress in 1938–1939 is a legendary figure. Called Netaji (“leader”) by his countrymen, Subhas Chandra Bose struggled all his life to liberate his people from British rule and, in pursuit of that goal, raised and led the Indian National Army against Allied Forces during World War II. His patriotism, as Gandhi asserted, was second to none, but his actions aroused controversy in India and condemnation in the West. Now, in a definitive biography of the revered Indian nationalist, Sugata Bose deftly explores a charismatic personality whose public and private life encapsulated the contradictions of world history in the first half of the twentieth century. He brilliantly evokes Netaji’s formation in the intellectual milieu of Calcutta and Cambridge, probes his thoughts and relations during years of exile, and analyzes his ascent to the peak of nationalist politics. Amidst riveting accounts of imprisonment and travels, we glimpse the profundity of his struggle: to unite Hindu and Muslim, men and women, and diverse linguistic groups within a single independent Indian nation. Finally, an authoritative account of his untimely death in a plane crash will put to rest rumors about the fate of this “deathless hero.” This epic of a life larger than its legend is both intimate, based on family archives, and global in significance. His Majesty’s Opponent establishes Bose among the giants of Indian and world history.
Nye, Joseph S., Jr. 2011. Zakaria's World. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Fareed Zakaria is one of our most perceptive analysts of America's role in the world, and I generally agree with him. But in the case of his new special essay for Time, "Are America's Best Days Behind Us?," I think he paints too gloomy a picture of American decline. Americans are prone to cycles of belief in decline, and the term itself confuses various dimensions of changing power relations. Some see the American problem as imperial overstretch (though as a percentage of GDP, the United States spends half as much on defense as it did during the Cold War); some see the problem as relative decline caused by the rise of others (though that process could still leave the United States more powerful than any other country); and still others see it as a process of absolute decline or decay such as occurred in the fall of ancient Rome (though Rome was an agrarian society with stagnant economic growth and internecine strife). Such projections are not new. As Zakaria notes, America's Founding Fathers worried about comparisons to the decline of the Roman Republic. A strand of cultural pessimism is simply very American, extending back to the country's Puritan roots. English novelist Charles Dickens observed a century and a half ago: "[I]f its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed, [America] always is depressed, and always is stagnated, and always is at an alarming crisis, and never was otherwise." In the last half-century, polls showed Americans believed in their decline after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, after Richard Nixon's devaluation of the dollar and the oil shocks in the 1970s, and after the closing of Rust Belt industries and the budget deficits of Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s. At the end of that decade, a majority of Americans believed their country was in decline; yet within the next 10 years they believed that America was the sole superpower. And now, after the 2008 financial crisis and recession, polls show a majority believes in decline again. These cycles of declinism tell us more about Americans' collective psychology than underlying shifts in power resources, but as British journalist Gideon Rachman argued in these pages recently, maybe this time decline is real. After all, as the Congressional Budget Office warns, on current trends the U.S. national debt will be equal to its GDP in a decade, and that will undermine confidence in the dollar. Zakaria lists other worrying indicators related to education and infrastructure. According to the OECD, American 15-year-olds rank 17th in the world in science and 25th in math. The United States is 12th in college graduation rates, 23rd in infrastructure, and 27th in life expectancy. On the other side of the ledger, America ranks first among rich countries in guns, crime, and debt. All these are very real problems, but one could also note that the United States is still first in total R&D expenditures, first in university rankings, first in Nobel prizes, first on indices of entrepreneurship, and according to the World Economic Forum, the fourth-most competitive economy in the world (behind the small states of Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore).The United States remains at the forefront of technologies of the future like biotechnology and nanotechnology. This is hardly a picture of absolute economic decay, ancient Rome style. The truth is that one can draw a picture of the United States today that emphasizes either dark or bright colors without being wrong. No one can be sure which shade better portrays the future because the number of potential futures is vast, and which one comes to pass will depend in part on decisions not yet made. Drawing on the thinking of Mancur Olson, the late great political economist, Zakaria believes that America's very success has made its decision processes sclerotic, like that of industrial Britain. But American culture is far more entrepreneurial and decentralized than that of Britain, where the sons of industrial entrepreneurs sought aristocratic titles and honors in London. If Olson is right, Zakaria says, the solution is to "stay flexible." And despite recurrent historical bouts of concern about it, immigration helps keep America flexible. In 2005, according to Forbes, foreign-born immigrants had participated in one of every four technology start-ups in the previous decade. As Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew once put it, China can draw on a talent pool of 1.3 billion people, but the United States not only draws on a talent pool of 7 billion, but can recombine them in a diverse culture that enhances creativity in a way that ethnic Han nationalism cannot. Zakaria also worries about the inefficient American political system. But the Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances precisely to preserve liberties at the price of efficiency. Moreover, just because we are now going through a period of excessively partisan politics and mistrust of government doesn't mean the American political system is in decline. Some aspects of the current mood are probably cyclical and related to unemployment, while others represent discontent with the bickering and deadlock in today's political process. Compared with the recent past, party politics has indeed become more polarized, but nasty politics is nothing new and goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers. Supporters of John Adams reputedly once called Thomas Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." Part of the problem of accurate assessment is that faith in government became abnormally high among the generation that survived the Great Depression and won World War II. Over the long view of American history, it was overconfidence in government in the 1950s and early 1960s, not low levels thereafter, that was the anomaly. American government and politics have always had problems, sometimes worse than today's. In assessing political decline, one must beware of the golden glow of the past. It is easy to show decline if one compares the good in the past with the bad in the present. In addition, we sometimes mistakenly idealize the efficiency of the political process in authoritarian countries like China. When it comes to infrastructure, for example, it is far easier to build high-speed rail lines where there are weak property rights and few lawyers. But if one looks at the important question of how Chinese leaders are struggling to implement their 12th five-year plan -- reducing dependence on exports, shifting to internal demand, and reducing regional inequality by moving industry to the west -- China is far from efficient. Although central bankers and economic planners know that revaluing the yuan would promote these goals and help head off inflation, a strong coalition of coastal export industries and associated local party bosses seeks to preserve the status quo. Zakaria notes that one Asian country after another is learning the secrets of Western success, and he is right. In The Future of Power, I argue that one of the two great power shifts of this century is the recovery of Asia to what it represented before the Industrial Revolution led to the ascendance of the West: more than half the world's population and its economic production. We should herald Asia's recovery -- it has brought millions out of dire poverty-- but those with excessive fear of China should remember that Asia is not one entity. In his important book Rivals, Bill Emmott reminds us that Japan, India, and others that are concerned about the rise of China welcome an American presence. Can anyone similarly imagine Canada and Mexico seeking a Chinese alliance to balance American power in their neighborhood? Nor is China likely to surpass America anytime soon. Yes, barring political uncertainties, China's size and high rate of economic growth will almost certainly increase its strength relative to that of the United States. Still, China won't necessarily become the world's most powerful country as a result. Even if China suffers no major domestic political setback, many of the current projections based on GDP growth alone are too one-dimensional. They ignore what are likely to be enduring U.S. military and soft-power advantages, as well as China's geopolitical disadvantages in the internal Asian balance of power. Zakaria is correct that the United States faces serious problems. But issues that preoccupy us today, such as long-term debt, are not insoluble; see for example, the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission, and remember that only a decade ago some people worried about the government surplus. Of course, such solutions may forever remain out of reach. But it is worth distinguishing situations for which there are no solutions from those that could, in principle, be solved. The greatest danger to America is not debt, political paralysis, or China; it is parochialism, turning away from the openness that is the source of its strength and resting on its laurels. As Zakaria says, in the past, worrying about decline has helped avert it. Let us hope that his intelligent though darkly drawn picture will yet again start that healthy process. 
Miller, Ian. 2011. Bitter Legacy, Injured Coast. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The rugged Sanriku Coast of northeastern Japan is among the most beautiful places in the country. The white stone islands outside the port town of Miyako are magnificent. The Buddhist monk Reikyo could think of nothing but paradise when he first saw them in the 17th century. “It is the shore of the pure land,” he is said to have uttered in wonder, citing the common name for nirvana. Reikyo’s name for the place stuck. Jodogahama, or Pure Land Beach, is the main gateway to the Rikuchu Kaigan National Park, a crenellated seashore of spectacular rock pillars, sheer cliffs, deep inlets and narrow river valleys that covers 100 miles of rural coastline. It is a region much like Down East Maine, full of small, tight-knit communities of hardworking people who earn their livelihoods from tourism and fishing. Sushi chefs around the country prize Sanriku abalone, cuttlefish and sea urchin. Today that coast is at the center of one of the worst disasters in Japanese history. Despite the investment of billions of yen in disaster mitigation technology and the institution of robust building codes, entire villages have been swept out to sea. In some places little remains but piles of anonymous debris and concrete foundations. I taught school in Miyako for more than two years in the 1990s, and it was while hiking in the mountains above one of those picturesque fishing villages that I came across my first material reminder of the intricate relationship between the area’s breathtaking geography, its people — generous and direct — and powerful seismic forces. On a hot summer day a group of middle-school boys set out to introduce me to their town, a hamlet just north of Pure Land Beach. While I started up the steep mountainside the children bounced ahead of me, teasing me that I moved slowly for someone so tall. “Are you as tall as Michael Jordan, Miller-sensei?” yelled one boy as he shot past me up the trail. “Not quite,” I told him, pausing on a spot of level ground to look out over the neat collection of tile roofs and gardens that filled the back of a narrow, high-walled bay. “What is this?” I asked, pointing to a mossy stone marker that occupied the rest of the brief plateau. A chorus of young voices told me that it was the high-water mark for the area’s biggest tsunami: more than 50 feet above the valley floor. “When was that?” I asked, but the boys couldn’t say. They had learned about it in school, they said, but like children everywhere they had little sense of time. Everything seemed like ancient history to them, but the thought of a wave reaching so high over the homes of my friends sent a chill down my spine, and I began to investigate the region’s history. A major tsunami has hit the Sanriku Coast every few decades over the last century and a half. Waves swept the area in 1896, 1933 and 1960. The small monument was put there, high above the village, to mark the crest of the 1896 tsunami. The wave killed more than 20,000 people. The boys’ village, a place called Taro, was almost entirely destroyed. Seventy-five percent of the population died. The force of those waves was amplified by the area’s distinctive geography. The same steep valley walls and deep inlets that make Sanriku so beautiful also make its villages and towns especially hazardous. The valleys channel a tsunami’s energy, pushing swells that are only a few feet high in the open ocean up to stunning heights. Fast-moving water topped 120 feet in one village in 1896. In a landscape where earthquakes are a regular occurrence but major tsunamis happen irregularly, people naturally forget. The small monument— one of several commissioned for towns up and down the coast — was a mnemonic whose purpose was not commemoration but vigilance. “When there is an earthquake, watch for tsunami,” reads the rather practical poem engraved into one such slab. Japan became a modern industrial state between the 1896 tsunami and the next major one, in 1933. The country’s radio and newspapers brought the story of rural fisher-folk swept out to sea to metropolitan audiences. Three thousand people died in the disaster and the humanitarian crisis elicited strong feelings of sympathy. The Sanriku region was portrayed as the nation’s heartland, a place where tradition remained intact, and the disaster threatened that preserve. Once again, Taro was particularly hard hit: all but eight of its homes were destroyed and nearly half of the village’s population of 1,800 souls went missing. The hamlet became an embodiment of agrarian loss. It is paradoxical that the response to this threat to traditional ways was the application of cutting-edge engineering and technology. A huge concrete seawall was planned for Taro. Completed in 1958, that wall, 30 feet high at points, stretches over 1.5 miles across the base of the bay. Faith in technology over nature appeared to be vindicated in 1960 with the great Chilean earthquake, a 9.5-magnitude quake that remains the largest ever recorded, which set off a Pacific-wide tsunami that killed 61 people in Hilo, Hawaii, before surging unannounced into the Sanriku Coast seven hours later. More than 120 Japanese died, but Taro remained largely unaffected, safe behind its sluice gates and concrete wall. Based in part on this success, a new program of coastal defense was initiated. The Sanriku Coast is now one of the most engineered rural coastlines in the world. Its towns, villages and ports take shelter behind state-of-the-art seawalls and vast assemblages of concrete tetrapods designed to dissipate a wave’s energy. The region is home to one of the world’s best emergency broadcast systems and has been at the forefront of so-called “vertical evacuation” plans, building tall, quake-resistant structures in low-lying areas. In 2003 Taro announced that it would become a “tsunami preparedness town.” Working with teams from the University of Tokyo and Iwate University, the town instituted a direct satellite link to accelerate the arrival of tsunami warnings. Public education was expanded and mayors from other towns visited to study this model village. Detailed maps showing projected maximum tsunami heights — using 1896 as a baseline — informed the selection of evacuation markers: a reassuring thick line defined the projected maximum reach of a tsunami. Evacuation sites were placed above that line on the maps. Similar calculations were made up and down the coast. The lines were drawn in the wrong place. Despite the substantial infrastructure and technological investments in Sanriku, the wave on March 11 overwhelmed large portions of Taro and Miyako. Some of the evacuation points were not high enough. The walls were not tall enough. And the costs are still being tallied. Thousands of people are missing along this beautiful, injured coast, hundreds in the town that I called home. I am still waiting to hear from one of the groomsmen from my wedding, the owner of Miyako’s best coffee shop and a sometime reader of this newspaper. Google’s people-finder app tells me he is alive, but I have no idea where he is or how our other friends fared. As for those rambunctious boys and all of my other students, I can only hope for the best. Technology allowed me to learn my friend’s fate. It has also helped to inspire a worldwide humanitarian response. It may be, however, that a greater application of technology in the same direction is not the answer to the problems posed by the March 11 tsunami. As a historian, I am forced to recognize that there is nothing purely natural about this catastrophe. It is the result of a far longer negotiation between human culture and physical forces. Disasters have the counterintuitive tendency to reinforce the status quo. As the terrifying events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continue to underline, there are very real costs to an uncritical application of technology. I look forward to returning to my old Japanese home, but I also look forward to finding something new and different when I make that journey. 
Aldrich, Daniel P. 2011. With a Mighty Hand. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the town of Ohkuma continues, and plant engineers and first responders endanger their lives to keep fuel rods and containment units cool, it is critical to consider how Japan’s commitment to nuclear power arose in the first place. It was no twist of fate or invisible market-hand that created 55 nuclear reactors in a seismically active country smaller than the state of California. Japanese bureaucrats and politicians have made it a priority to create an indigenous source of power that provides an alternative to imported oil and coal.Despite this understandable rationale, it’s still surprising that the only nation in the world against which atomic weaponry has been used—twice, no less—has created the world’s most advanced commercial nuclear program. It is especially surprising when you consider that countries like France, Germany, and the United States have given up their attempts at fast breeder reactor technology because of concerns about proliferation and hazard. What has driven Japan to pursue its advanced program of nuclear power, and why have nuclear power plants ended up in incredibly vulnerable positions along Japan’s coasts?While the United States has provided some support for nuclear power (for example, the Price-Anderson Act, which commits the federal government to absorbing some of the financial costs of potential nuclear accidents), as a source of alternative energy, it has never been fully embraced. This tradition of fence-sitting continues today, as seen in the Obama administration’s decision to end funding for the planned high-level radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain after two and a half decades of struggle over the site. Completion of the facility would have helped pro-nuclear groups convince skeptics that offsite waste disposal was possible. (The difficulty in securing permanent storage sites for nuclear waste is what leads U.S. and Japanese nuclear power plants to store their used fuel rods on site where they are most vulnerable.)In contrast, the Japanese government has gone far beyond this approach. The origins of its enthusiasm can be traced to the postwar period. In 1955, at the urging of then-Diet Memberand later Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, the Japanese government granted more than 5 billion yen—about $14 million in 1955 currency—to the Japan-based Agency for Industrial Science and Technology to begin research under the aegis of the “atoms for peace” banner raised by Dwight Eisenhower. In recent decades, the Japanese central government has supported the regional power utilities—including Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs Fukushima, and its counterparts—through research funding, risk amortization, and financial and logistical support. Unlike France, for example, which explicitly nationalized and then partly privatized their main nuclear-power-promoting utility company, Japan did not nationalize its energy industry, and some Japan experts have characterized the relationship between the state and utility firms as contentious. Yet both sides got what they wanted over the past 50 years: The government guided Japanese firms to produce nearly one-third of the nation’s power through nuclear plants, and the utilities obtained credible commitment against risk and financial backing for their expensive investments. The Japanese people, as readers might imagine, have not been solid supporters of these government-initiated policies. Just as the government hoped to start its nuclear program in 1954, a highly publicized accident—in which crewmates onboard the poorly named Lucky Dragon Number 5 ship were exposed to radioactive fallout from an American hydrogen bomb test—resulted in the death of a radioman from radiation exposure. This spurred the creation of one of the world’s first national anti-nuclear movements (known as Gensuikyō) and a petition against nuclear weapons that obtained more than 20 million signatures. Attempts to build a number of plants around the country since the mid-1950s have resulted in petitions, public outcries, demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, and the occupation of town councils by anti-nuclear activists. While the anti-nuclear movement has not demonstrated the kind of violence shown by the anti-Narita Airport protests in the 1960s—during which a number of police officers and anti-airport farmers and students were killed in struggle over land expropriation—the success rate for the building of nuclear power plant has been roughly 50 percent. (That is, for every two attempts to construct a new plant, only one has gone forward.) To minimize these fights over nuclear power in a society where people are deeply sympathetic to victims of atomic energy, the government has taken a two-pronged approach. First, it has worked tirelessly with the regional utilities to map out villages and towns that are the best locations for plants, according to the utilities’ needs. Bureaucrats within MITI (the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which became METI, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, as of 2001) provided funding for geographical and demographic surveys of potential grounds. Power companies have often targeted rural, depopulated coastal communities, where the population of local fishermen are declining. But, while legitimate criteria, such as distance from high-population areas, shock-resistant bedrock, and access to cooling water, have played a role in such plant site selections, the inability of the local population to coordinate anti-nuclear mobilization has often been the dominant factor.Second, the government has created an extensive framework of policy instruments to manage and dampen anti-nuclear contestation. Where the Japanese authorities have been content to use standard, Weberian tools against anti-facility movements in other areas—such as dam construction and airport building—they have never resorted to land-expropriation in struggles over nuclear power plants, despite clear legal precedent for them to do so. Rather, the government has created a series of hard- and soft-control tools alongside deep incentives for communities willing to take on nuclear reactors. For example, students in Japanese middle schools may take science courses emphasizing the safety and necessity of nuclear power plants, with curricula written by government bureaucrats rather than teachers. Farmers and fishermen in these communities are regularly offered jobs at government-sponsored facilities to compensate for signing away sea rights in the surrounding fishing area. To further assuage the resistance that fishermen and farmers have shown in the past (because of concerns over “nuclear blight”—potential customers avoiding crops or fish because of fears of nuclear contamination), the government sponsors a yearly fair in Yokohama, in which only communities that host nuclear power plants can display and sell their goods. Finally, the government has created a monumental program called The Three Power Source Development Laws (Dengen Sanpō), which funnels roughly $20 million per year to acquiescent host communities. The money—which comes not from the politically vulnerable and annually vetted budget, but, instead, from an invisible tax on all electricity use across the nation—purchases roads, buildings, job re-training, medical facilities, and good will. In these far-flung rural communities that are, by and large, dying through depopulation and aging, these funds can provide vital support. Japan’s choices—to sway public opinion through subsidies, social control tools, and manipulation—have left little room for public debate on the issue of nuclear power. The local residents—whom we see bearing the heaviest burden of the ongoing crisis in Fukushima and who have been exposed to radiation by past accidents at the Monju FBR, the fatal accident at Tokaimura, and elsewhere—are seen not as partners, but as targets for policy tools. A plan-rational approach, as Chalmers Johnson might have called it, has placed reactors in areas vulnerable to the threat of tsunami and pushed rural communities into dependence on the economic side payments which accompany these facilities. Now, as Japan struggles to avert catastrophe, it is the time for a real discussion between civil society and state over the future of nuclear power.
Daniel P. Aldrich is a former Advanced Research Fellow (2006–2007) of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations and a former Graduate Student Associate of the Weatherhead Center (2002–2005).
Liss, Daniel. 2011. Black, White, and the Limbo in Between: The Precarious Position of the South African Chinese Under Apartheid.Abstract
The South African Chinese have long labored to manipulate their racial position to advance their individual and collective economic and political interests. Their negotiation reached its peak under apartheid, the oppressive system of segregation instituted by the National Party in 1948. Under various concurrent tenets of apartheid law, the Chinese were classified as non-white, Coloured, Asian, and Chinese. Like other non-white groups, the Chinese were subject to discrimination because of their race. Yet over the course of apartheid, the Chinese slowly gained more rights. By the late 1970s, they were still Chinese but had won many of the privileges reserved for Whites. The Chinese population managed this success through their small size and specific political strategies intended to portray their community as diligent, law-abiding citizens. Instead of protesting the existing social order, they sought to manipulate the apartheid apparatus to their advantage. Ultimately, the South African Chinese managed to manipulate racial policies to their advantage because of the apartheid state’s overarching concerns about its political and economic relations with the Republic of China’s government. Chinese South Africans represent a miniscule fraction of South Africa’s population and have received a commensurately small amount of historiographic attention. However, their experiences offer a privileged vantage point into the connections between South Africa’s domestic racial policies and international relations during the apartheid years. Ultimately, this study demonstrates that the international context deeply shaped the construction and reconstruction of racial and ethnic categories in apartheid South Africa—a regime too often dismissed as exceptional and divorced from a changing international order. This work not only engages the literature on the experiences of the South African Chinese, but also provides a critical case study for the larger literature on the functional utility of race in the policy formation of apartheid.
Iyer, Lakshmi. 2011. The Power of Political Voice: Women's Political Representation and Crime in India.. Harvard Business School. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Using state-level variation in the timing of political reforms, we find that an increase in female representation in local government induces a large and significant rise in documented crimes against women in India. Our evidence suggests that this increase is good news, driven primarily by greater reporting rather than greater incidence of such crimes. In contrast, we find no increase in crimes against men or gender-neutral crimes. We also examine the effectiveness of alternative forms of political representation: large scale membership of women in local councils affects crime against them more than their presence in higher level leadership positions.
Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 11-092, March 2011.Download PDF
Guo, Elizabeth Congcong. 2011. Conceiving Conception: The Bioethics of Assisted Reproductive Policy in China.Abstract
My thesis explores the ethics behind assisted reproductive policy in China by examining how ethical issues are identified, framed, and implemented among three groups of professionals: academic bioethicists, policymakers, and medical personnel. I will then examine how these issues are transferred across groups and identify the factors that shape their formation. Finally, I argue that while ethical priorities are heavily shaped by traditional cultural structures and definitions, they are simultaneously being altered by international influences. My research draws on ethnographic data collected through in-depth qualitative interviews and is supplemented with non-participant observation conducted at field sites in Beijing.
Lehner, Eliza A. 2011. Conceiving the Impact: Connecting Population Growth and Environmental Sustainability.Abstract
This thesis seeks to analyze what would have to change in American discussions of global environmental sustainability for population growth to assume its rightful place in the discussion. The amount of carbon that people consume times the number of consumers determines the total carbon emissions and thus environmental impact, yet most environmentalists avoid any mention of population growth. I examine the common sources of opposition—religious, feminist, capitalist, ethical, and even environmental—to understand what specific element of population stabilization each group reacts against and whether there are ways to address those concerns while still discussing population growth in environmental terms. To do this, I conducted informational interviews with people in the population and/or environment movement, observed a population organization and did archival research there, and read population-ethics theory. I suggest that sustainability discussions can include population growth, within certain important bounds, and in doing so, create the space for more effective policy.
Lin, Stephany Yu-Zhu. 2011. Making Place for Belonging: Migration and Public Space among Turkish Women in Copenhagen.
This thesis asks how uses of city space among a minority demonstrate engagement and identification with the city overall. Research focused on ethnographic interviews with second-generation Turkish women in Copenhagen, about their use of the city throughout different stages of their lives. This was supplemented by participation observation across Copenhagen’s public spaces and interviews with urban planners and leaders of various women’s centers. I find that the second-generation Turkish women demonstrate multiple uses and understandings of city spaces based on their multiple, fluid identities, so that through a particular identity a physical space becomes a meaningful place. Because people are situated and related through space, space and place play an important role in an individual’s identification with and against others. I define space as composed of the built and physical environment across all scales. Place, on the other hand, is space made especially meaningful, interpreted by individuals based on their histories, use, and perceptions of the space. Place is thus a product of a particular identity and its respective ways of being in the city. Different contexts and spaces become the platform for enacting different identities. The result is to conceive of space as dynamically constructed into different places as different identities play out across the city. I demonstrate this first by describing how Turkish immigrants claim and appropriate urban space in Copenhagen, recreating their cultural uses of space within the context of Copenhagen. I continue by contextualizing these Turkish practices within the diverse repertoire of identities of second-generation Turkish women and their accompanying diverse understandings of place. Ultimately, allowing for an open, fluid sense of identities and place creates a more inclusive framework for belonging in a multicultural, transnational city. Download PDF
Thorlakson, Tannis R. 2011. Reducing Subsistence Farmers’ Vulnerability to Climate Change: The Potential Contributions of Agroforestry in Western Kenya.Abstract
Climate change is predicted to have huge impacts on rural farmers in developing countries, as small-scale farmers are particularly vulnerable to climatic stresses and shocks. Agroforestry, or the use of trees in the cropping system to improve farm productivity, has been put forth as a potential strategy to improve farmers’ ability to adapt to future climate changes. Through a case study in western Kenya, I examine agroforestry’s role in helping subsistence farmers adapt to climate change through both qualitative and quantitative analyses. My results show that farmers are unable to cope with current climatic shocks in a sustainable way. By examining household responses to the most recent floods and droughts I find that often households are forced to engage in erosive coping strategies that threaten their farm’s long-term productivity. Farmers and the general literature agree that the most effective way to cope with future climate variation and shocks will be to improve general livelihoods through increasing farm productivity and enhancing non-farm incomes. My statistical analyses support my qualitative observations that agroforestry techniques can improve farm productivity and household wealth. From these results I conclude that agroforestry practices have the potential to help farmers adapt to climate change through improving general household wellbeing in rural western Kenya. My findings also stress the importance of location-specific evaluations of effective development strategies and the need for enhanced community participation in development practices.
NAFTA and the Politics of Labor Transnationalism
Kay, Tamara. 2011. NAFTA and the Politics of Labor Transnationalism. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
When NAFTA went into effect in 1994, many feared it would intensify animosity among North American unions, lead to the scapegoating of Mexican workers and immigrants, and eclipse any possibility for cross-border labor cooperation. But far from polarizing workers, NAFTA unexpectedly helped stimulate labor transnationalism among key North American unions and erode union policies and discourses rooted in racism. The emergence of labor transnationalism in North America presents compelling political and sociological puzzles: How did NAFTA, the concrete manifestation of globalization processes in North America, help deepen labor solidarity on the continent? In addition to making the provocative argument that global governance institutions can play a pivotal role in the development of transnational social movements, this book suggests that globalization need not undermine labor movements: collectively, unions can help shape how the rules governing the global economy are made.
Mylonas, Harris. 2011. Analysis of Greece’s Cabinet Reshuffle. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Three weeks of peaceful street protests; a couple of Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) members of parliament resigning this week; a few more PASOK members of parliament challenging the leadership qualities of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou; rampant unemployment; violent clashes with the police; and one of the worst financial crises in modern Greek history culminated today in...a cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister Papandreou is facing the most intense criticism since his election in October of 2009, both from his party and from Greek society. What on Wednesday night looked like a grand coalition government with the main opposition party, Nea Demokratia, was transformed on Thursday into an intra-party “reshuffling for elections.” The new government was sworn in on June 17 and will be up for a confidence vote on June 21. The opposition parties are not impressed with the reshuffle. Most citizens reacted by saying “same old, same old.” Not much is expected from this new government. Why is that? To begin with, Papandreou's effort to regain the confidence of the Greek public began with the ambitious idea of a coalition government including many technocrats but ended up with a mild cabinet reshuffling satisfying the narrow interests of the ruling political party rather than effectively tackling the mounting problems. For example, his efforts to recruit Lucas Papademos, an experienced economist that has served as vice president of the European Central Bank, as a Minister of Finance did not bear fruit. This is just one example of the failure of Papandreou to bring technocrats into the government. Instead, Evangelos Venizelos, a professor of constitutional law and until today defense minister, took up the burden. Moreover, Theodoros Pangalos remained deputy prime minister despite the fact that he has been the target of most of the chants of the street protesters for the past three weeks. Most ministers were not changed and three important ministers were demoted but not fired—the Ministers of Finance, Interior, and Justice. However, there is a more positive way to read the news. Papandreou managed to build a team that agrees with him, to improve the internal cohesion of the party, and to share the burden with the rest of PASOK. One step was to remove Katseli, who was probably a victim of her disagreements with the Troika (European Central Bank, IMF, European Commission), from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. To appease the political base of PASOK and silence a wave of internal criticism that has been mounting within his party he removed from the government some of his close friends that had been intensely criticized and included some of his personal critics in the government. Last but not least, by promoting Venizelos—his party rival and contestant for the leadership of the party just a few years ago—to deputy Prime Minister. Adding a second deputy Prime Minister position for Venizelos, Papandreou significantly changed the dynamic within PASOK. Party cohesion is a arguably a precondition for the government to pass the new bundle of austerity measures required to secure more loans from the EU/IMF. Despite these cooptation tactics, however, the new government has already found its critics from within the party. A few minutes after the new government was sworn in, PASOK MP Voudouris argued that the reshuffle was unsatisfactory. Regardless, as a result of this reshuffle, the whole political party is seen as an “accomplice” of Prime Minister Papandreou in this effort. There are also important changes in the functioning of the government. The Prime Minister re-created a “Government Committee”—something that has been a demand of many party members—where the most important policies are normally decided. The irony is that it is both oversized, with ten Ministers participating, and lacks the key Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense. These changes aim to enhance Papandreou’s ability to delegate responsibility and for the government to coordinate more efficiently. Another important fact is that Pangalos will not be part of the “Government Committee” — something that might appease some of his many critics. Turning to the Ministry of Finance—the hot potato of this affair—most people believe that Venizelos may be better in the negotiations than the previous Minister of Finance, Papaconstantinou. Venizelos is an experienced politician and charismatic speaker. He has served as minister of culture, justice, transportation, and development. Nevertheless, he is not an economist and thus he will have to rely on the advice of others. Finally, two promising new faces in the government are Stavros Lambrinidis, (BA from Amherst, JD from Yale), the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and LSE Professor Elias Mossialos, the new government spokesman and Minister of State. In the meantime, this Sunday the Eurogroup is meeting in Brussels to decide on the next installment from the EU/IMF bailout package. It seems that the developments in Greece have also alarmed Sarkozy and Merkel to the point that they rushed to declare that they will provide further assistance to Greece and that the private sector can also participate in this scheme on voluntary basis — a highly contested point so far. Nevertheless, with few exceptions, the changes have not impressed the Greek people—who are still waiting for social justice, more just redistribution, and have grown impatient with political parties— and it is unlikely that they will restore the confidence of our foreign creditors. If this new government fails to regain the confidence of the people then we will have early elections. And one thing is certain. From these elections a one party government will not emerge.