Research

Working Papers

Gauging Preference for Democracy in Absence of Free Speech (with Josie I Chen and Louis Putterman)

Whether people prefer a democratic system is difficult to judge when speaking freely carries personal dangers. We introduce an incentivized experimental task to reveal implicit preference for democracy without referencing politically-sensitive terms. We validate the task with data from émigrés from Greater China living in North America, demonstrating our experimental tool’s ability to gauge favorability toward democracy when participants come from backgrounds where eliciting such views is challenging. We corroborate the task’s accuracy and its ability to uncover patterns in democratic sentiment with data from a representative US sample and from a diverse set of participants in China. (Access Paper Here)

Supplementary Files:  Instructions and Questionnaires  


Historical Narratives and Political Behavior in the US (with Elsa Voytas)

We examine perceptions of the history of race in the United States and its impact on present-day political polarization. Based on survey data from 14,044 US respondents, we examine historical narratives surrounding key racial events among both white and Black individuals. Our analysis unveils notable discrepancies in beliefs regarding the causes of the Civil War, the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, and the enduring legacy of slavery on Black Americans today. Ideological divisions in historical interpretations, particularly among white respondents, emerge prominently, while differences across race and generation are less pronounced. Moreover, we investigate the political ramifications of these historical viewpoints through two experimental interventions. Participants were randomly prompted to contemplate their own perspectives on these issues and to confront the views of others. The results of our experiments indicate that historical narratives about race can exacerbate polarization in institutional satisfaction. Liberals exhibit heightened pessimism and dissatisfaction with the current institutional framework as a result of the treatments, while conservatives remain largely unaffected. This study underscores the significance of understanding the origins and repercussions of historical accounts concerning intergroup tensions, which may contribute to contemporary political divisions.  (Access paper here)


Nation Building Through Military Service (with Juan Pedro Ronconi)

This paper studies conscription’s role in durably shaping attitudes and beliefs consistent with nation-building. We pair original survey data covering 29 cohorts of conscripts in Argentina with random variation in service emerging from a lottery. We find that serving in the military leads to a stronger national identity and social integration several decades after serving but does not affect civic behaviors such as voting or paying taxes. Value inculcation during service helps explain the baseline patterns, while exposure to and interaction with diverse peers reinforce but do not explain the results. (Access Paper Here)


Self-Emancipation and Progressive Politics: The Legacy of Civil War Refugee Camps 

This paper examines the evolution of political outcomes in Civil War refugee camps, where roughly 600,000 of the 3.9 million enslaved African Americans achieved and experienced freedom for the first time. Refugee Camps were sites of African American empowerment, where racially progressive politics enjoyed an electoral advantage in the short and long runs. This persistence masks a backlash during the first decades of the twentieth century, when white voters overturned the progressive legacy in counties where Refugee Camps had emerged. In the long run, however, white voters became key contributors to the durable re-emergence of progressive outcomes. Increased intergroup interaction and selective migration of whites explain this reversal in political behavior. Progressive accomplishments may thus create the conditions that allow for the reversal of political behavior among the historically-reactionary demographic. (Access paper here)

Publications 

Social Exclusion and Social Preferences: Evidence from Colombia's Leper Colony, American Economic Review 2023, 113 (5): 1294-1333. 

This paper explores the intergenerational legacy of social exclusion on pro-sociality. A lab-in-the-field approach in the historical region of Colombia’s leper colony reveals that descendants of socially excluded individuals are locally altruistic and extend such altruism to outsiders who have undergone similar circumstances. These individuals also display mistrust toward those who have, historically, been exclusionary—in this case, doctors. The content of historical narratives shared by ancestors who were excluded, which emphasize the endured mistreatment and doctors’ historical misinformation, is one mechanism that partially explains the intergenerational patterns. (Access paper here) 

Media: Psychology Today | Nada es Gratis (In Spanish) | Winner of the Nada es Gratis Job Market Paper Prize | El Espectador (In Spanish)

Older Working Papers

Historical Conflict and Gender Disparities (Access latest draft here)

Interpersonal Diversity and Carbon Emissions (Access latest draft here)