Publications by Type: Conference Paper

Simmons, Beth A, and Cosette Creamer. 2015. “Do Self-Reporting Regimes Matter? Evidence from the Convention against Torture.” International Studies Association. New Orleans, Louisiana. Abstract

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.

Harley, Alicia, Sharmila Murthy, Laura Diaz Anadon, Gabriel Chan, Kira Matus, Suerie Moon, Vanessa Timmer, and William C Clark. 2014. “Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A Global Systems Perspective.” Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A Global Perspective. Cambridge, MA. Publisher's Version Abstract

This workshop report is a summary of themes discussed by five panels during a daylong workshop on “Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A global Perspective” at Harvard University on April 24, 2014. The workshop brought together a diverse group of scholars to explore how the technological innovation needed for sustainable development can be promoted in ways that assure equitable access in current and future generations.

Three key themes that emerged from the workshop include: (1) The central role of power, politics and agency in analyzing technological innovation and sustainable development—an important aspect of this includes the articulation of the roles of actors and organizations within frameworks and models of innovation systems. (2) The importance of focusing both on supply-push and demand-pull mechanisms in innovation scholarship and innovation policy. (3) The need to focus more innovation scholarship around the goals of sustainable development.

The failure of the 1848-49 European revolutions was crucial in the evolution of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Whitman shared the revolutionary spirit of 1848-49, portraying an ideal America of unique and growing diversity. How does Whitman as an American national poet with revolutionary sympathies compare with his European contemporaries, such as Mickiewicz of Poland, Petőfi of Hungary, or Shevchenko of Ukraine? Whitman sympathized with liberal European revolution, but not with European xenophobia, which after 1848 was increasingly associated with nationalism and the poetry of nationalism. Whitman is spiritually closest not to European national poets but to poets of the East such as Tagore and Iqbal. His identification with America as heir to xenophobic, dying Europe took added force from his father’s death. Whitman, despairing at the reality of American politics in the 1840s and 1850s, sought an idealized freedom of the Self in a universalist mystical vision. The tolerant inclusiveness of Whitman’s poetry found a practical outlet in the Civil War, in his saintly, self-sacrificing behaviour as a hospital nurse and the expression in his poetry of the horror, not glory, of war. Through his inner conflicts, in which his sexual identity was central, Whitman spoke for the uncertainties of American national identity after 1848. Whitman’s poetry revealed his power, and that of the Nation, to contain and resolve painful contradictions and grow through them; and in this way, too, a multicultural America could emerge.

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Frieden, Jeffry. 2014. “The Crisis and Beyond: Prospects for International Economic Cooperation.” Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze and Centre for Economic Policy Research Joint Conference. Harvard DASH repository Abstract

An integrated world economy requires cooperation among major economic powers. Without determined cooperation among the principal powers, globalization is unlikely to survive the inevitable shocks to which it is subjected.

The world faces a difficult adjustment to reduce the macroeconomic imbalances that were a major cause of the current crisis. This means reducing the surpluses of the major surplus countries in East Asia and Europe, and reducing the deficits of the major deficit countries in North America and Europe. Both processes require substantial domestic economic changes; economies and people will be tempted to turn inward, and governments will be tempted to reduce the priority they give to their external ties. This increases the risks of a breakdown in international cooperation.

Historical precedent is instructive. During the interwar period, a global macroeconomic imbalance was a major cause of the eventual economic catastrophe. During the 1920s, Germany borrowed heavily from the United States. But when a crisis hit, it turned out that neither country was politically prepared to maintain cooperative policies. Americans, focused on domestic concerns, were unwilling to help work out a cooperative resolution of the crisis. Germany exploded into social and political unrest and ended up in the hands of rabid nationalists and protectionists. The problem was political: a lack of domestic support for the sacrifices necessary to maintain international cooperation.

As the crisis winds down and post-crisis adjustment begins, major governments will be challenged to work together to support a well-functioning international economy. They will need to address the concerns of constituents who will chafe at the economic changes forced upon them. Governments that can build domestic political support for international economic engagement will be in a stronger position to work to sustain an integrated global economy.


Why do religious and political ideologies sometimes produce social and political conflict and other times co-mingle peacefully? The answer must consider both the content of competing ideologies along with the socio-political interests of their believers. In this case study of ideological competition in Central Asia, I show how both philosophical and material concerns explain why many Muslims, while openly retaining their religious-ethnic identity, became active members of an atheistic Community Party. This phenomenon did not occur amongst Christians who necessarily discarded, at least publicly, their religious identities when becoming Communists. So while religious and political conflict openly occurred in Communist societies which were predominantly Christian, many Muslims were able to accommodate their religious convictions with Soviet Communism. In the end, the creation of “Muslim Atheists” depended on not only socio-economic differences between Muslim and Christian societies but also theological differences between Muslim and Christian religions.

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Putnam, Robert D. 2012. “What's So Darned Special about Church Friends?” Altruism, Morality & Social Solidarity Forum, American Sociological Association, 2nd ed., 3: 1,19-21. DASH Repository
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Gopinath, Gita, and Oleg Itskhoki. 2010. “In Search of Real Rigidities”. Abstract

The closed and open economy literatures work on estimating real rigidities, but in parallel. We bring the two literatures together to shed light on this question. We use international price data and exchange rate shocks to evaluate the importance of real rigidities in price setting. We show that consistent with the presence of real rigidities the response of reset-price inflation to exchange rate shocks depicts significant persistence. Individual import prices, conditional on changing, respond to exchange rate shocks prior to the last price change.

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Presented at the NBER 25th Macroannual Conference, April 9-10, 2010.

Mullainathan, Sendhil, and Abhijit Banerjee. 2008. “Limited Attention and Income Distribution”. Abstract
Economists have long been interested in the idea that there is a direct circular relation between poverty and low productivity, and not just one that is mediated by market failures, usually in asset markets. The nutrition-based e¢ ciency wage model (Partha Dasgupta and Debraj Ray, 1987) is the canonical example of models where this happens: However it has been variously suggested (see for example T. N. Srinivasan, 1994) that the link from nutrition to productivity and especially the link from productivity to nutrition is too weak to be any more than a small part of the story. Partha Dasgupta himself acknowledges this when he writes "nutrition-productivity construct provides a metaphor... for an economic environment harboring poverty traps."
Presented at the American Economic Association, January 4, 2008.
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Mullainathan, Sendhil, Jeffrey R Brown, Jeffrey R Kling, and Marian V Wrobel. 2008. “Why Don't People Insure Late Life Consumption? A Framing Explanation of the Under-Annuitization Puzzle”. Abstract
According to standard economic models, a risk-averse consumer who faces uncertainty about length-of-life should place a high value on life annuities that provide guaranteed income for life. Yet numerous studies show that few consumers voluntarily annuitize their retirement savings. As public and private pension systems around the world continue the ongoing shift from traditional defined benefit plans, which typically pay benefits for life, to defined contribution structures which rarely require annuitization, retirees find themselves increasingly exposed to longevity risk—the risk of being unable to sustain their consumption should they live longer than average.
Presented at the American Economic Association, January 5, 2008.
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Frieden, Jeffry, J. Lawrence Broz, and Stephen Weymouth. 2007. “Exchange-Rate Policy Attitudes: Direct Evidence from Survey Data”. Abstract

Analyses of the political economy of exchange-rate policy posit that firms and individuals in different sectors of the economy have distinct policy attitudes toward the level and the stability of the exchange rate. Most such approaches hypothesize that internationally exposed firms prefer more stable currencies, and that tradables producers prefer a relatively depreciated real exchange rate. Sensible as such expectations may be, there are few direct empirical tests of them. We offer micro-level, cross-national evidence on sectoral attitudes over the exchange rate. Using firm-level data from the World Bank’s World Business Environment Survey (WBES), we find systematic patterns linking sector of economic activity to exchange-rate policy positions. Owners and managers of firms producing tradable goods prefer greater stability of the exchange rate: in countries with a floating currency, manufacturers are more likely to report that the exchange rate causes problems for their business. With respect to the level of the exchange rate, we find that tradables producers—in particular manufacturers and export producers—are more likely to be unhappy following an appreciation of the real exchange rate than are firms in non-tradables sectors (services and construction). These findings confirm theoretical expectations about the relationship between economic position and currency policy preferences.

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The causes and consequences of public support, or the lack thereof, for the overseas application of military force is a subject of longstanding scholarly debate. The most widely accepted explanations emphasize rational public responses to events as they unfold. Such “event-based” explanations hold that a president’s ability to sustain public support for a U.S. military engagement depends primarily on its degree of success, the number of or trend in U.S. casualties, or the U.S. goals in a given conflict. Yet, recent research into the framing of foreign policy has shown that public perceptions concerning, success or failure, the implications of casualties, and the offensive or defensive nature of U.S. military engagements are often endogenous to the domestic political circumstances surrounding them, including the efforts of political and media elites to frame events to their own advantage.

In this study, we develop and test a series of hypotheses concerning media coverage of, and public opinion regarding, the war in Iraq. In the former case, in prior research (Baum and Groeling 2004, 2005) we report evidence that journalists’ preferences lead traditional news programs to disproportionately feature instances of members of the presidential party criticizing their fellow partisan president and, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, of the opposition party praising him. Moreover, because they represent costly speech, presidential party attacks are highly credible to consumers, as is opposition party praise. In contrast, in more ideologically narrow “new media” outlets, we anticipate that the balance will likely differ substantially.

We test our hypotheses concerning media coverage through a comprehensive content analysis of all coverage of the war from September 2004 through February 2007 appearing on the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and FOX’s Special Report with Brit Hume. We test our public opinion hypotheses using that same dataset, as well as an expert survey on conditions in Iraq and national opinion toward the Iraq War broken down by party. We find significant differences in both the composition and impact of partisan messages on public opinion across outlets.

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Genocide, mass killing, torture, ethnic cleansing, and other gross violations of human rights are defined as war crimes or crimes against humanity under international law. To develop an adequate explanation of such actions, which is the task of social psychology, and an adequate legal response to them, which is the task of international law, requires going beyond the characteristics of individual perpetrators or even of the situations in which these practices take place. It requires close examination of the political system and of the policy process in which these actions are embedded and that provide the larger context for them.
The paper draws extensively on two earlier publications (HC Kelman, "The Social Context of Torture: Policy Process and Authority Structure" in RD Crelinsten and AP Schmid (eds), The Politics of Pain: Torturers and their Masters (1993); HC Kelman, "The Policy Context of Torture: A Social-Psychological Analysis" (2005) 87(857) International Review of the Red Cross).
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Whyte, Martin K. 2006. “Popular Perceptions of Distributive Justice in China: Local and Regional Variations.” Creating Wealth and Poverty in Contemporary China. Yale University. Abstract

The reform era launched in 1978 has produced dramatic changes in Chinese society. The dismantling of centrally planned socialism and the transformation of China into a market–based economy have fundamentally altered that society's social order. In many respects China's reforms have been extraordinarily successful, with sustained high levels of economic growth, rising income levels and consumption patterns, growing integration of China into the global economy, massive infusions of foreign investment, and sharp reductions in the proportion of the population that is desperately poor. However, this transformation from a socialist to a market–based society has also had more divisive and less savory consequences. Older Chinese who had learned how to survive by playing by the rules of Mao–era socialism had to adapt to a fundamentally changed distribution system in which there were plenty of losers alongside the many winners. Chinese society changed from being a society with relatively modest income disparities to one with large and in some periods escalating gaps between the rich and the poor. Many who felt they should be honored for their contributions to building socialism found themselves unemployed, while suspicion was rife that many of China's new millionaires were the beneficiaries of corruption and official favoritism. In recent years China has been rocked by a rising tide of public protests by peasants, workers, and others, with unfairness of the current social order repeatedly challenged.


Burden, Barry C. 2005. “Economic Accountability and Strategic Calibration in Japan's Liberal Democratic Party.” Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Washington. Abstract

I propose a new explanation for the dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan using the notion of strategic calibration. Existing theories of LDP hegemony emphasize a favorable electoral system and strong economic performance, but neither of these factors is sufficient to explain the party's recent success. Using public opinion data from 1960 to 2004, I show that the LDP employed a strategy to prevent unpopular prime ministers from tainting the party's image. Time series analyses show that inflation and unemployment have modest effects on cabinet support ratings, but they have no effects on LDP ratings. LDP leaders are sensitive to the relative support levels of the prime minister's cabinet and the party because the former affects the latter, though not the reverse. Duration models demonstrate that when cabinet ratings fall below party ratings, cabinets are more likely to be reshuffled and prime ministers are more likely to be replaced to avoid having the cabinet's negative image “rub off” on the LDP. Although electoral rules, culture, and other factors surely play a role in sustaining the LDP, I reveal for the first time that the party manages it cabinet personnel strategically to maintain suitable party support in the electorate.


Whyte, Martin K. 2005. “Popular Attitudes Toward Income Inequality in China.” Income Inequality in China. Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Abstract

During the period of China's reforms since 1978, the income and consumption levels of the majority of Chinese families have improved considerably. However, it is clear that inequalities in the distribution of incomes in China have increased sharply as well, and that the “rules of the game” that determine how people are paid in their jobs, what benefits they are entitled to, and whether or how they can get ahead (or experience downward mobility) have changed in dramatic fashion as well. On the latter point and oversimplifying things, socialist distribution principles and bureaucratic allocation of income and benefits have been replaced by market distribution and heightened competition and risk. How do ordinary Chinese citizens react to these changes in the pattern of income distribution and social mobility in China? In evaluating the altered terrain of income inequality, how do the laobaixing weigh the “good news” of generally rising incomes against the “bad news” of increased inequality and the at least “problematic news” of having their lives governed by dramatically altered rules about what individuals and families have to do in order to get ahead or simply survive? How common is it for Chinese citizens to feel very angry about heightened inequalities and the altered pattern of who is rich and who is poor, despite awareness of the general increase in living standards in the past generation? How much nostalgia exists for the distribution principles and inequality patterns of the centrally planned socialist era? Is popular anger at inequality in China one of the most important problems that Chinese society and its leaders currently face, as some recent opinion polls suggest? Or on the opposite side of the question, how common is it for Chinese citizens to feel satisfaction or even gratitude for all of these changes, even though they may recognize the problems or even unfairness of the more unequal society in which they now live? How much popular acceptance is there of the current leadership's claims that inequalities are necessary or even desirable as a way to stimulate further economic growth?


Whyte, Martin K. 2005. “Rethinking Equality and Inequality in the PRC.” 50th Anniversary Conference for the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research. Harvard University. Abstract

The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research has been in business nearly as long as the People's Republic of China, and the Center has played a key role in research on all aspects of the world's most populous society. During that period China has experienced extraordinary changes, and our understanding of that society has also been notably altered and deepened. I was not present at the creation, either of the PRC or of the Fairbank Center, but I was privileged to begin my own academic study of China here at Harvard forty years ago, in 1965, just as the Cultural Revolution was about to explode. So I was the beneficiary of the accumulated wisdom of scholars such as John Fairbank and Benjamin Schwartz, and I am pleased that two of my teachers then are still my colleagues today, Ezra Vogel and Dwight Perkins.

One of the topics I have struggled to understand over the course of my career of studying China is the changing contours of equality and inequality in the PRC, and particularly the contrasts between the Mao and reform eras. In my talk today I want to offer some of my current thinking on this subject. I will be arguing that there is a conventional wisdom regarding trends in equality and inequality in post–1949 China, and that that conventional wisdom is oversimplified and misleading at best, and in some respects dead wrong. Our understanding of the nature of Chinese society after the revolution and even today will be hampered unless we can recognize the flaws in, and overcome the influence of, this conventional wisdom. In advancing my alternative view I will be relying not only on my own research but on the work of many other scholars, and I will attempt to synthesize a variety of kinds of evidence and arguments into an alternative way of thinking about inequality trends in the PRC.


Consociational theory suggests that power–sharing institutions have many important consequences, not least that they are most likely to facilitate accommodation and cooperation among leadership elites, making them most suitable for states struggling to achieve stable democracy and good governance in divided societies. This study compares a broad cross–section of countries worldwide, including many multiethnic states, to investigate the impact of formal power–sharing institutions (PR electoral systems and federalism) on several indicators of democratic stability and good governance. The research demonstrates three main findings: (i) worldwide, power–sharing constitutions combining PR and federalism remain relatively rare (only 13 out of 191 states); (ii) federalism was found to be unrelated to any of the indicators of good governance under comparison; and (iii) PR electoral systems, however, were positively related to some indicators of good governance, both worldwide and in multiethnic states. This provides strictly limited support for the larger claims made by consociational theory. Nevertheless, the implications for policymakers suggest that investing in basic human development is a consistently more reliable route to achieve stable democracy and good governance than constitutional design alone.

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Social scientists often explain religious effects in terms of religious group affiliations. Typically, researchers identify religious groups by denomination or some broader popular categorization, such as "fundamentalist," or "evangelical." To better capture religious differences, Steensland et al. (2000) propose an intricate classification of American denominations which takes into account the theology and historical development of various American religious traditions. In response, we propose to replace the reliance on indirect denominational and other group membership as inferential measures of religiousness with a more appropriate direct measure: conceptions of God. This simple measure predicts church attendance rates, belief in biblical literalism, party identification, abortion attitudes, and sexual morality attitudes. In addition, this indicator provides a means to understand variation within religious traditions. God?s character proves the most straightforward way to describe religious differences and the most efficient way to demonstrate how religion impacts the world.

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We examine new survey data on attitudes toward international trade showing that women are significantly less likely than men to support increasing trade with foreign nations. This gender gap remains large even when controlling for a broad range of socio-economic characteristics among survey respondents, including occupational, skill, and industry-of-employment differences that feature in standard political-economy models of individuals’ trade policy preferences. Measures of the particular labor-market risks and costs associated with maternity do not appear to be related at all to the gender gap in trade preferences. We also do not find any strong evidence that gender differences in non-material values or along ideological dimensions have any affect on attitudes toward trade. The data do clearly reveal that the gender gap exists only among college-educated respondents and is larger among older cohorts. We argue that differences in educational experience—specifically, exposure to economic ideas at the college level—appear to be most plausible explanation for gender differences in attitudes toward trade. The findings suggest the possibilities of a renewed theoretical and empirical focus on the political roles played by ideas, not just among policymakers but also among the broader electorate. In practical terms, there are also implications for trade policy outcomes in different contexts and for how debates over globalization contribute to broader gender divisions in politics.

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Paper prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, August 27–30, 2003. The authors thank Alicia Llosa, Peter Schwartzstein, Hillel Soifer, and Jonathan Taylor for their assistance in carrying out the research for this paper.

The post–Cold War literature on regime change has drawn considerable attention to the "international dimension" of democratization (Whitehead 1996a). Whereas the dominant literature on democratization during the 1980s downplayed the importance of international factors (O?Donnell and Schmitter 1986), these factors are now widely seen to have played an important – and even decisive – role in shaping post–Cold War regime outcomes (Huntington 1991; Starr 1991; Whitehead 1996a; Kopstein and Reilly 2000). Thus, scholars have highlighted the democratizing impact of the diffusion of democratic norms and institutions, the globalization of new technologies such as the internet, the increased propensity of the U.S. and other Western powers to encourage democracy abroad, the unprecedented use of political conditionality, the spread of transnational human rights and democracy networks, and an emerging international infrastructure of democracy promotion andelectoral observation.