Past Events

February 12, 2014
One common explanation for the divergence between what members of Congress do and what the public as a whole would prefer is the extreme preferences of the citizens who participate in primary elections. If candidates must appeal both to a primary electorate with far-from-center policy preferences and a general electorate with more moderate policy preferences, candidates may diverge from the policies they would support if they only had to win the general election. Despite the appeal of this argument, most empirical evidence on the effects of primaries finds small to no effects.
February 10, 2014

It is almost too obvious to state, but access to public services and the nature of governance varies hugely within countries, regions and cities. Nevertheless, most comparative work on the “quality of government”, rule of law, corruption, etc. focuses on between-country comparisons. After providing some evidence that within-country variation belies any notion of a national “quality of government”, I lay out a framework for explaining why governance and service outcomes vary so much across localities. I explore the usefulness of the framework by providing evidence from three ongoing projects. The first relies on a pair of surveys designed to examine the role of slum-level social and political networks in conditioning access to basic public services in Udaipur, India.

February 7, 2014



Professor Quong has a D.Phil in political philosophy from Nuffield College, Oxford. He was a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the University of Manchester from 2003-2013, and has also held visiting positions at the Australian National University, Princeton University, and Tulane University.



February 5, 2014

The retrospective theory of political accountability provides the most compelling account we have of the relationship between leaders and citizens in democratic political systems. But retrospective voting is harder than it looks. Achen and Bartels analyze the vagaries of retrospective voting and their implications for the effectiveness of democratic accountability, both in the abstract and in the specific case of economic voting in U.S. presidential elections. They find that American voters strongly reward or punish incumbent presidents for income gains or losses in the months immediately preceding an election, but forget or ignore most of the incumbent government’s economic performance.

February 3, 2014

We examine how commodity price shocks experienced by rural producers affect the drug trade in Mexico. Our analysis exploits exogenous movements in the Mexican maize price stemming from weather conditions in U.S. maize-growing regions, as well as export flows of other major maize producers. Using data on over 2200 municipios spanning 1990-2010, we show that lower prices differentially increased the cultivation of both marijuana and opium poppies in municipios more climatically suited to growing maize. This increase was accompanied by differentially lower rural wages, suggesting that households planted more drug crops in response to the decreased income generating potential of maize farming.

January 27, 2014

Drawing on both qualitative ethnographic fieldwork and experimental evidence from a survey using Facebook social networks, this paper examines collective action among first movers and their networks during the Arab Spring protests in Morocco. It finds that the regime’s
efforts to repress political dissidents encouraged participation in or support for new protests.