Working Papers

These are working papers either currently under review or still in development. Comments and suggestions on these papers are always welcome.

Do affirmative action policies hinder economic development? (with Christian Almer)

In this paper we examine whether armative action policies systematically impact economic development in terms of growth and overall inequality. We use the synthetic control method to estimate the impact of the introduction of armative action policies on economic growth across 38 countries. Our results are largely a null nding, but an important one. We nd a very small positive impact of armative action on growth, averaging a cumulative impact of 0.02 percentage points after ve years and 0.04 percentage points after ten years, but also a small net increase in Gini coecient of 0.42 point after ve years and 0.77 points after ten years. These results are only robust to a randomised placebo test for national-level policies, however, where the eects are slightly stronger. We conclude that national-level armative action policies may promote long-run economic growth and certainly don’t reduce it, but may also lead to slight deterioration in overall levels inequality, even if they are able to address the inter-group inequalities that they typically target.

State-sponsored migration and inequality: Evidence from New Order Indonesia

State-sponsored internal migration has been a relatively common developmental strategy historically, but has received surprisingly little attention. In this article, I present a simple economic model of state-sponsored migration and its impact on inequality, and test it on data from Indonesia’s New Order regime, which had high levels of both state-sponsored and spontaneous internal migration. I find, as predicted, that state-sponsored migration has a detrimental impact on inequality in the destination district, while spontaneous migration reduces it. Moreover, this effect is particularly strong with respect to disaggregated ‘horizontal’ inequalities between ethnic groups, a major driver of ethnic violence. Because state-sponsored migration has often been implemented precisely as a response to security concerns over ethnically distinct peripheries, this suggests that such policies may be counterproductive, exacerbating precisely those grievances that tend to lead to conflict.

A general class of social distance measures (with Arnim Langer)

Measures of diversity and disparity within a population are used for investigating a range of developmental outcomes, but often by employing ‘off-the-shelf’ indicators that may not be theoretically appropriate for the hypotheses under investigation. In this paper, we proposed a general class of social distance measures that both enables us to see the conceptual relationship between different existing measures of heterogeneity more clearly and is sufficiently flexible to allow for the development of tailored hypothesis-specific measures. We show how a range of existing aggregate measures of diversity and disparity fit within the general class and demonstrate illustratively how the measure can be used to develop more precise hypothesis-specific measures.

The political economy of secessionism: Inequality, identity, and the state

In this paper, I seek to contribute to the disaggregation of the study of civil war by focusing on the socio-economic dynamics of secessionist conflict as an identifiably distinct subset of ‘civil wars’, and by using a new subnational dataset compiled for this purpose. I test a series of hypotheses relating to the socio-economic conditions that encourage secessionism and political institutions that might mediate it. In contrast to the mainstream literature on civil war, I find a very strong predictive role for a measure of ethnic diversity in accounting for the incidence of secession. I also find a relatively straightforward set of socio-economic relationships. The relationship between relative socio-economic performance and conflict incidence is non-linear: regions that suffer from high ‘horizontal inequalities’ – whether relatively poor or relatively rich – in relation to the rest of the country are more prone to secessionism. The presence of petrochemical deposits also dramatically increases the likelihood of secessionism. But the institutional story is more complex and contingent upon interaction effect with the degree of ethnic diversity and the level of horizontal inequalit


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