Current projects

Determinants of refugee exclusion and its attenuation: the case of Syrian refugees to the U.S.
Co-PIs: Claire Adida, UCSD
                Adeline Lo, Princeton University

Supported by: NSF Rapid and UCSD

Pre-analysis plan available here.

Literature on immigrant exclusion has shown that individuals in industrialized democracies exclude immigrants when they feel threatened by them, either economically or culturally. But we know little about how to counter this exclusionary tendency. This project leverages the Syrian refugee crisis – one of the most significant humanitarian crises of our time – to test whether and how individuals might be pushed toward a more inclusionary approach in the context of refugees. We conduct on online survey of US citizens with an embedded experiment, fielded by YouGov in October and November 2016. The survey experimentally manipulates respondents’ exposure to one of two methods of persuasion – one emotional (via an empathy prime) and one rational (via a persuasion argument) – to assess whether and how individuals can be moved toward inclusionary attitudes and behavior. We examine effects of the two treatments on respondents’ attitudes and behavior toward refugees and through a conjoint design. Two waves of data collection allow us to examine the persistence of treatment effects over time.

Meet the Candidates: Information and Accountability in Primary and General Elections
Co-PI: Pia Raffler, Yale University

Supported by: EGAP Information and Accountability Metaketa Initiative , the International Republican Institute (IRI), and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)

This study seeks to assess the role of information in the selection of effective politicians in the context of the 2015 primary elections and 2016 general elections in Uganda. Results from existing research on the effect of information on political behavior have been mixed, identifying effects of information on vote choice, knowledge, and turnout in some places and not others. While there are several potential explanations for the divergence in findings, we focus on two factors: the political environment and the public vs. private provision of information. In particular, we contrast the effect of political information in the form of candidate debates, termed “Meet the Candidates” sessions – on voter behavior in a) intra- (primary) versus inter- party (multiparty) electoral environments and b) in public versus private settings. This study is one of seven projects selected for funding by the EGAP (Experiments in Governance and Politics) Regranting Initiative, Cumulating Evidence on Political Accountability.

SMS for Better Service Provision in Uganda
Co-PIs: Guy Grossman, University of Pennsylvania
              Jonathan Rodden, Stanford University

Supported by: Global Development and Poverty (GDP) exploratory project, Stanford.
USAID Democracy, Rights, Governance – Learning, Evaluation, Research (DRG-LER) 

Under what conditions does reducing information barriers improve bureaucratic accountability and service delivery? The goal of this randomized controlled trial is to determine the impact of an SMS (short message service) program in Uganda that allows citizens and local government officials to send and receive information about service delivery issues on the quality of social service facilities, focusing on government primary schools and health centers. The SMS program, called U-Bridge, is funded by USAID/Uganda and implemented by RTI International and UNICEF. U-Bridge is part of a five-year USAID program, Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP), taking place in twenty-five districts across Uganda. Embedded into the evaluation design is an innovative experiment designed to explore ways to increase political participation, measured as a individual’s decision to respond to a poll question via text-message. The study takes place in Arua district, northern Uganda. Program activities began in September 2014 and will run until December 2015.

Politicizing infectious disease: Lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak
Co-PIs: Claire Adida, UC San Diego
              Kim Yi Dionne, Smith College

Supported by: NSF RAPID 

Do infectious disease threats affect attitudes toward immigration? Scholarship investigating the determinants of individual attitudes toward immigration has found that, across a wide range of contexts, cultural threats increase exclusionary attitudes toward immigrants. Yet much of this literature is apolitical, in that it does not consider how political entrepreneurs might exploit such threats to move public opinion on immigration. Our paper leverages the Ebola crisis in the United States, which coincided with the 2014 midterm elections, and which politicians sought to manipulate for political gain, to assess the extent and limitations of the politicization of a crisis that conflates public health and cultural threats. We ran a survey experiment between November and December 2014 to measure the American public’s response toward Ebola and immigration. Our results confirm that public opinion on immigration is easily swayed by political entrepreneurs, and that this effect is not merely driven by partisanship.