research

working papers


Information Manipulation in Survey Experiments
With Robert Gulotty.

Abstract

To study the effect of informational beliefs on individual attitudes and behaviors, social scientists often rely on survey experiments. When the manipulation of interest is a belief about some fact, such studies must assume respondents receive the information. This assumption is often not addressed in survey experimental designs. When it is, the success rate of these manipulations is often low. As a result, the substantive interpretations of the findings may be invalid. We propose a simple diagnostic test and recommendations for treatment design that will help researchers better connect experimental studies and the substantive theories of politics they seek to test.


A Guide to Dynamic Difference-in-Differences Regressions for Political Scientists
With Anton Strezhnev.

Abstract

Difference-in-differences (DiD) designs for estimating causal effects have grown in popularity throughout political science. Many DiD papers present their central results through an "event study" plot - a visualization that combines estimated dynamic average treatment effects for multiple post-treatment time periods alongside placebo tests of the main identifying assumption: parallel trends. Despite their ubiquity, the methods used in practice for the creation of these plots are inconsistent and in many cases can result in misleading inferences about both the treatment effects and the placebo checks. Building on and synthesizing recent contributions in the econometric literature on differences-in-differences designs, this paper illustrates some common pitfalls through a replication of three recently published papers in major political science journals. We identify three notable problems related to the incorrect specification of the baseline comparison time, incorrect inclusion of "always-treated" units, and sensitivity to effect homogeneity assumptions. We help provide researchers with additional intuition for the problems that arise due to effect heterogeneity and for the "contamination bias" result of Sun and Abraham (2021) through a novel decomposition of the dynamic event study regression in the style of Goodman-Bacon (2021) that allows researchers to recover the weights placed on each 2x2 comparison used to construct each estimated effect and placebo.


Different Institutional Lineages, Similar Developmental Outcomes: Historical Membership of a Wealthy Province in South China Has Muted Effects on Contemporary Development

Abstract

This research note investigates the relative explanatory power of pre- and post-Communist institutions for the variation in contemporary development of towns in Guangxi Province in South China. I use a regression discontinuity (RD) design to test whether historical institutional membership of Guangdong, a currently rich coastal province that was historically a center of maritime trade in China, has persisted since the administrative boundary changed between the provinces shortly after the Chinese Communist Party came to power. The study finds little evidence that pre-Communist institutional membership affects contemporary development and suggests that post-Communist institutional evolution at the local level may have contributed more to differences in contemporary development within Guangxi.

works in progress


Batch-Adaptive Matched Randomization for Increasing Efficiency in Experimental Designs

How a Security Amendment to a U.S. Government Grant Shapes Firm Behavior: A Field Experiment
With Alexander Tippett.