Experimentally Estimating Safety in Numbers in a Single-Party Legislature

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This article builds on recent experimental work in the Vietnamese National Assembly to explore a critical qualification regarding responsiveness in authoritarian parliaments: delegates grow increasingly responsive as the number of peers possessing the same information rises. We suggest that this reinforcement, or safety-in-numbers, effect arises because speaking in authoritarian assemblies is an intrinsically dangerous task, and delegates are reluctant to do so without confidence in the information they would present. Here we describe the saturation design for the original experiment, theorize safety-in-numbers behavior among authoritarian legislators, and test an additional observable implication of the logic. Consistent with the safety-in-numbers logic, we find that the effects of reinforcement are greater in televised floor speeches than closed-door caucuses.





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Malesky, EJ, and JD Todd (2022). Experimentally Estimating Safety in Numbers in a Single-Party Legislature. Journal of Politics, 84(3). pp. 1878–1883. 10.1086/716967 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25966.

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Edmund Malesky

Professor of Political Science

Malesky is a specialist on Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. Currently, Malesky's research agenda is very much at the intersection of Comparative and International Political Economy, falling into three major categories: 1) Authoritarian political institutions and their consequences; 2) The political influence of foreign direct investment and multinational corporations; and 3) Political institutions, private business development, and formalization.


Jason Douglas Todd

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke Kunshan University

I am an Assistant Professor at Duke Kunshan University, where I teach political science and public policy. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University in 2020.

My research spans the fields of American and comparative politics to examine how political institutions shape the law, whether that be through the legislators who make it or the judges who interpret it. This work considers a broad array of topics, including legal citation networks, polarization in judicial opinions, judicial confirmations, congressional and state legislative committees, and responsiveness in authoritarian legislatures. I am also engaged in a book project concerning the U.S. Supreme Court and its role atop the federal judicial hierarchy, which I approach through the lens of the Court’s case selection process. Throughout this work, I employ a broad array of methodological approaches, including text-as-data, networks, simulation studies, field experiments, and archival work.

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