Essays in Political Economy and Development Economics
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This dissertation explores questions in political economy and in development
economics. I ask and answer two research questions.
First, I look at whether peaceful or violent protests are more effective at
steering policy change. I study this question in the context of the US Civil
Rights Era, and evaluate the effects of protests on legislator votes in the
US House. I use a fixed-effects specification, and find that peaceful protests
caused a liberal shift and therefore were effective from the point of view of
the Civil Rights Movement but violent protests caused a conservative shift
and therefore backfired.
Second, I look at whether the structure of social networks in rural West-
ern Kenya is affected by a large development intervention. In joint work with
Robert Garlick and Kate Orkin, we evaluate the effects of a large unconditional
cash transfer and a psychological intervention. We cross-randomize
villages into these two interventions, and measure household interactions in
four types of networks: talking about goals, talking about challenges, giving
money or goods, and receiving money or goods. We estimate effects on total
link counts, measures of homophily, and measures of link intensity.
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