Working Paper
Dana Higgins, Brock Tessman, and Chad Peltier. Working Paper. “The Missing Link Between System Structure and State Behavior”. Abstract

Do leadership perceptions of relative power distribution in a competitive system tend to differ from the objective distribution of power in that system? If so, how does this difference influence our understanding of the connection between relative power and state behavior? In this article, we draw insight from the fields of cognitive, social, and political psychology, diplomatic history, and international relations in order to develop and test a “Perceptions of Power” (PoP) model that more accurately tracks leadership perceptions of relative power in competitive systems. We use and transform capability data from pre-World War One Europe in order to generate PoP scores that track German perceptions of relative power in Europe between 1871 and 1914. We then conduct a systematic and detailed analysis of diplomatic documents from that time period in order to assess the PoP model and demonstrate that it has greater external validity than raw national capability scores. We find that this is particularly the case when it comes to identifying the point in time at which Germany reaches power parity with Great Britain, and accounting for the anxiety that Germans leaders felt because of the specific way in which Russia recovered after its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. Both of these improvements offer a great deal of insight for scholars that are interested in understanding both the motivation and timing of German strategy in the years prior to World War One. In addition, we are optimistic about the generalizability of the PoP model. In as much as it can be applied to other systems and time periods, it may be able to uncover new ways to connect the systemic distribution of relative power to actual foreign policy outcomes.

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Dana Higgins, Connor Huff, and Anton Strezhnev. Working Paper. “Survivability not Superiority: A Critique of Kroenig (2013)”. Abstract

Kroenig (2013) finds that in crises between nuclear-armed states, countries possessing nuclear arsenals larger than those of their opponents tend to be victorious. After correcting for coding errors in the dataset and for finite-sample bias in clustered standard error estimates, we show that this relationship no longer holds at conventional levels of statistical significance. We further demonstrate that the observed association between nuclear superiority and crisis victory is extremely sensitive to the author's variable coding decisions and model specifications. Under reasonable alternative coding and model choices, the nuclear superiority finding is no longer present. We find instead that the possession of an assured nuclear second-strike capability is consistently and robustly associated with positive crisis outcomes among nuclear states. Survivability, rather than superiority, appears to be the element of a state's nuclear arsenal that has the most significant bearing on its ability to win nuclear crises.

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Accountability for Children’s Rights. With Special Attention to Social Accountability and Its Potential to Achieve Results and Equity for Children.

This working paper focuses on the gendered concepts of women that emerge from the texts of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, especially the concept of “honor and modesty.” Through analysis of historical materials, the paper describes the background to Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which refers to the protection of women from rape and enforced prostitution. In particular, the paper examines the question of why the Conventions’ drafters did not include rape in the list of acts that constitute grave breaches of the Conventions, worthy of special condemnation.

Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne. Working Paper. “"All the Single Ladies: Job Promotions and the Durability of Marriage"”. Abstract

This paper shows that promotion to top jobs dramatically reduce the durability of women’s marriages, but not men’s. For two political jobs – mayor and parliamentarian – we can follow successful and unsuccessful job contenders over time, both before and after the promotion. With this data, we can ascertain common trends in divorce and earnings before the promotion, and use a difference in difference approach to estimate the causal effect of promotion on divorce. To further control for unobservables, we also define a subsample close elections where the promotion is quasi-randomly assigned. For promotions to CEO of private firms, we can only analyze promotion winners, but an event study that compares promoted men and women gives strong supports to our baseline findings. Looking into  possible mechanisms, we can rule out that promoted women are differentially “tempted” by new partners after promotion. Instead, it appears that norms and behavior in the marriage  market may hinder the closure of the gender gap in the labor market. Divorces do not  occur in couples that are more equally matched in terms of age, parental leave, or earnings. Instead they occur in couples where behaviors are more traditional, which is still the case for most relationships.


Established by a three person Reserve Bank Organization Committee (RBOC) in 1914, the structure of the Federal Reserve System has remained essentially unchanged ever since, despite criticism at the time and over ensuing decades. This paper examines the selection of cities for Reserve Banks and branches, and of district boundaries. We show that each aspect of the Fed’s structure reflected the preferences of national banks, including adjustments to district boundaries after the Fed was established. Further, using newly-collected information on the locations of each national bank’s correspondents, we find that banker preferences mirrored established interbank connections. The Federal Reserve was thus formed on top of the structure that it was meant to replace.


In this paper we analyze how sources of political influence relate to the actual regulatory treatment of distressed banks and to the expectation of bank support provided by the government. We assemble a unique dataset connecting U.S. banks' sources of influence (e.g., lobbying expenditures, proximity to legislative committee, prior affiliation with regulatory or government institutions) to bank financial data, actual bank supervisory actions and market-inferred expected government support. Employing this novel data, we cast some light on how regulatory decision making is affected by these sources of influence. Our findings suggest that banks' inuence exertion matters for the regulatory treatment of distressed banks as well as for the expectation of support regardless of bank distress. Several conditions increase the effectiveness of sources of influence in actual regulatory treatment: Lobbying activities are more effective with deteriorating capital ratios and with the aid of former politicians; effectiveness of proximity to representatives of legislative committee increases with the amount of campaign contributions from the financial industry. However, there seems to be a limit to the impact of influence when it comes to closure decisions of the most severely distressed banks. Our findings are instructive for understanding the political influence banks can leverage on shaping regulatory decisions, and propose increased attention to the relations between legislators, regulators, and


This paper explores the strategic foundations of separation of powers in the English empire of North America. A hierarchical principal-agent model of this setting demonstrates that imperial governors may extract more rents from colonial settlers than the imperial crown prefers. This lowers the crown's own rents, and inhibits economic development by settlers. Separation of powers within colonies allows settlers to restrain the governor at low direct cost to the crown. This restraint shrinks the share of the economy extracted jointly by the governor and the crown, but may thereby induce greater economic development. When eciency gains of extracting from a larger pie outweigh distributive losses from a smaller crown share, the crown supports separation of powers within colonies. The model highlights the role of agency problems as a distinct factor in New World institutional development.

Michal Bauer, Christopher Blattman, Julie Chytilova, Joseph Henrich, Edward Miguel, and Tamar Mitts. Working Paper. “"Can War Foster Cooperation?"”. Abstract

In the past decade, nearly 20 studies have found a strong, persistent pattern in surveys and behavioral experiments from over 40 countries: individual exposure to war violence tends to increase social cooperation at the local level, including community participation and prosocial behavior. Thus while war has many negative legacies for individuals and societies, it appears to leave a positive legacy in terms of local cooperation and civic engagement. We discuss, synthesize and reanalyze the emerging body of evidence, and weigh alternative explanations. There is some indication that war violence especially enhances in-group or "parochial" norms and preferences, a finding that, if true, suggests that the rising social cohesion we document need not promote broader peace.

Natalie Eslick. Working Paper. CEDAW Article Brief Descriptions. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Abstract

This document provides short summaries of the articles of CEDAW.

Working Paper. CEDAW - OP Article 8 chart - Optional Protocol "Article 8 Inquiry". Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Abstract

This chart visualizes the inquiry process for article 8 of CEDAW. 

Mischa Karplus. Working Paper. CEDAW Reservations: Family. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Abstract

A list of all countries with reservations on CEDAW pertaining to the family.

David de la Croix, Matthias Doepke, and Joel Mokyr. Working Paper. “"Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Pre-Industrial Economy"”.


The movement of Effective Altruism and social impact investing signifies a shift in philanthropy towards measured impact. GiveDirectly, a nonprofit organization that facilitates unconditional cash transfers to the poor in Kenya and Uganda, operates under the reasonable premise that poor people know what makes them better off. Microfinance institutions operate under the same assumption and provide low-interest loans to the poor. Models of providing poor people with funds through unconstrained donations or microloans tout how the funds are often used to start businesses. Research suggests that this is true in practice[1] and, more importantly, that business creation is an important component of economic development[2].

These models, however, neglect the influence of culture on the use of funds. Some empirical research has already shown that culture influences how people spend money[3]. It is plausible that members of ‘interdependent’ communities allocate a smaller proportion of their income to personal spending due to a social stigma in comparison to ‘individual’ communities. This phenomenon plausibly extends to the use of unconstrained funds that are either donated or loaned. This research project will study the relationship between cultures of interdependence and spending. It will investigate the question: how does interdependence in a community influence the ways in which community members spend donated or loaned funds?



[1] Canales, Rodrigo, Dean Karlan, and Tony Sheldon. "What Are the Realities of Microfinance?" Yale School of Management. N.p., 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.


[2] Szirmai, Adam, Wim Naudé, and Micheline Goedhuys. "Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development: An Overview." Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Development (2011): 3-32. Web.

[3] Boris, Cynthia. "New Study Shows Cultural Impact on Shopping Habits." Marketing Pilgrim Links RSS. N.p., 3 July 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.


Nicholas Biddle and Jonathan Kilgour. Working Paper. “Complexity and Indigenous Policy: Lessons and Case Studies from Australia and New Zealand.” In Economic Issues Facing Indigenous People in Canada and the United States. Abstract

Indigenous communities and policy-makers are increasingly using complexity, systems thinking and what can broadly be termed behavioural insights to inform their practice. This paper explores the meaning of complexity and how it contributes to policy and development discourse. In particular, it will explore some of the population and social dynamics that contribute to the complexity of indigenous realities.

Isabela Mares and Didac Queralt. Working Paper. “"The Conservative Origin of Income Taxation"”. Abstract

This paper examines the adoption of income taxes by Western economies since
the 19th century. We identify two empirical regularities that challenge predictions of existing models of taxation and redistribution: while countries with low levels of electoral enfranchisement and high levels of landholding inequality adopt the income tax first, countries with more extensive electoral rules lag behind in adopting these new forms of taxation. We propose an explanation of income tax adoption that accounts for these empirical regularities. We discuss the most important economic consideration of politicians linked to owners of different factors, namely, the shift of the tax burden between sectors, and examine how pre-existing electoral rules affect these political calculations. The paper provides both a cross-national test of this argument and a micro-historical test that examines the economic and political determinants of support for the adoption of the income tax in 1842 in Britain.


List of countries that have ratified the Istanbul Convention and any reservations from that country to the Convention.