SDG 16

Advances in ending violence, promoting the rule of law, strengthening institutions and increasing access to justice are uneven and continue to deprive millions of their security, rights and opportunities and undermine the delivery of public services and broader economic development. Attacks on civil society are also holding back development progress. Renewed efforts are essential to move towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16.

Recent research at the School of Global Policy and Strategy

Technological transformations open new opportunities and disrupt old patterns. Founded in 2006, Center on Global Transformation (CGT) provides a new framework for vanguard exploration of topics critical to analyzing and shaping the forces of economic change in a deeply interconnected, thoroughly dynamic world. CGT and its Pacific Leadership Fellows program focus on academic inquiry and policy analysis of international issues. CGT’s core mission is to: Foster and disseminate research that addresses global economic and technology transformation Develop and maintain a network…
The Policy Design and Evaluation Lab (PDEL) is an international focal point for rigorous empirical research on the interplay of public policy, technology, and economic development. PDEL combines advanced social science methodology with the power of information technology to design policies and programs that alleviate poverty; promote health, welfare, and security; and enhance accountability. Why PDEL? UC San Diego and its scholars are at the leading edge of a movement to develop a new class of solutions to some of…

RESEARCH

David Victor and Gordon McCord

The Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP) will serve as a roadmap for the U.S. based on the latest modeling, research and understanding of decarbonizing six key sectors (power, transport, industry, buildings, food and land use, and materials) supported by technical pathways to zero carbon by 2050, as well as supporting policy recommendations. The ZCAP was designed by a cohort of nearly 100 researchers and 19 Chairs who make up the Zero Carbon Consortium, who are experts in their fields of climate change policy; clean energy pathways modeling; industrial policy high-employment green economies; legislative and regulatory policy; electricity (power) generation; transportation; industry; buildings; sustainable land-use; and sustainable materials management.

RESEARCH

Nico Ravanilla

This paper is based on a randomized field experiment among 569 youth interested in running for the Sangguniang Kabataan (Village Youth Council)-an elective post that serves as a jump-off point for a political career in the Philippines. Five years later, it was found that those with high public service motivation and high-aptitude and were assigned to a workshop with awards conditional on performance were encouraged to remain in politics.

2020

RESEARCH

Zoltan Hajnal

As America has become more racially diverse and economic inequality has increased, American politics has also become more clearly divided by race and less clearly divided by class. In this landmark book, Zoltan L. Hajnal draws on sweeping data to assess the political impact of the two most significant demographic trends of last fifty years. Examining federal and local elections over many decades, as well as policy, Hajnal shows that race more than class or any other demographic factor shapes not only how Americans vote but also who wins and who loses when the votes are counted and policies are enacted. America has become a racial democracy, with non-Whites and especially African Americans regularly on the losing side.

RESEARCH

John Ahlquist

How do external economic shocks influence domestic politics? We argue that those materially exposed to the shock will display systematic differences in policy preferences and voting behavior compared to the unexposed, and political parties can exploit these circumstances. Empirically, we take advantage of the 2015 surprise revaluation of the Swiss franc to identify the Polish citizens with direct economic exposure to this exogenous event. Using an original survey fielded prior to the 2015 elections and an embedded survey experiment, we show that exposed individuals were more likely to demand government support and more likely to desert the government and vote for the largest opposition party, which was able to use the shock to expand its electoral coalition without alienating

RESEARCH

Zoltan Hajnal

What are relative contributions of race and class to government responsiveness? Why do these inequalities exist in the first place? And under what contexts are disparities in responsiveness reduced? To answer these questions, we assess the congruence between individual-level policy preferences and policy outcomes using the General Social Survey. We match individual spending preferences in 11 policy areas with actual federal spending to see whose preferences are realized. We find that race, more regularly than class, shapes government responsiveness. 

RESEARCH

Francsico Garfias

Limited government supported by elite coalitions can facilitate the development of fiscal capacity by tying rulers’ hands and enhancing their credibility. This paper presents evidence of the effect of the Mining Tribunal, an institution for the mining elite in late colonial Mexico that credibly constrained the Spanish Crown, on the development of fiscal capacity.

RESEARCH

Rafael Fernández de Castro

The United States and Mexico face a powerful onslaught of criminal activity damaging both countries. They need to step up cooperation now. U.S. threats are counterproductive. What if Mexico threatened a 25 percent tariff on American corn and soybeans unless U.S. citizens stopped providing the estimated $19-29 billion in drug sale profits each year to Mexican criminal groups? Or, what if Mexico threatened to impose tariffs on American pork until the United States stops the illegal flow of automatic weapons and ammunition across the shared border?

2019

RESEARCH

John Ahlquist

Voters often rely on partisan attachments as they evaluate new policy proposals, but does partisanship also color their interpretation of incumbent efforts to entrench themselves in power by changing the “basic rules of the political game”? We explore this question by taking advantage of a rare instance where a single party held a supermajority sufficient to unilaterally amend the constitution and overhaul the electoral system. We embedded a randomized experiment in a panel survey around the 2014 Hungarian elections, providing respondents with different information about recent changes to the Hungarian electoral rules. While respondents were largely pessimistic about the reforms, providing information yielded no significant effects on their views on the elections’ legitimacy. But when information was presented alongside

RESEARCH

Barbara Walter

Leaders like Mugabe and dos Santos witnessed what happens to unpopular dictators like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi when citizens rebel and the military is unwilling to protect them from the opposition. They have learned that (a) violent rebellion is possible even in the staunchest dictatorships, and (b) if your party (and your generals) no longer support you, you could be killed. Under these conditions, peaceful resignation suddenly seemed like an attractive option.

RESEARCH

Victor Shih

Contrary to research on the tradeoff between competence and loyalty, the model in this paper shows that when threats to an authoritarian regime are existential and purges are an option, the dictator will always prefer to employ a competent lieutenant. However, in accordance with the existing literature, credible institutions to ensure the welfare of ousted officials do, indeed, reduce the chance of internal conflict.

RESEARCH

Emilie Hafner-Burton

A growing number of developed country governments link good governance, including human rights, to developing countries’ access to aid, trade, and investment. We consider whether governments enforce these conditions sincerely, in response to rights violations, or whether such conditions might instead be used as a veil for protectionist policies, motivated by domestic concerns about import competition. We argue that the two-tiered structure of the GSP privileges some domestic interests at one level, while disadvantaging them at the other.

RESEARCH

Eli Berman

The authors show that a revolution in the study of conflict–enabled by vast data, rich qualitative evidence, and modern methods—yields new insights into terrorism, civil wars, and foreign interventions. Modern warfare is not about struggles over territory but over people; civilians—and the information they might choose to provide—can turn the tide at critical junctures.

RESEARCH

Gaurav Khanna

There is growing awareness that development-oriented government policies may be an important counterinsurgency strategy, but existing papers are usually unable to disentangle various mechanisms. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we analyze the impact of one of the world’s largest anti-poverty programs, India’s NREGS, on the intensity of Maoist conflict. We find short-run increases of insurgency-related violence, police-initiated attacks, and insurgent attacks on civilians. We discuss how these results relate to established theories in the literature. One mechanism consistent with the empirical patterns is that NREGS induces civilians to share more information with the state, improving police effectiveness.

RESEARCH

Jesse Driscoll

This article examines the seductions of espionage for professionally vulnerable (untenured) researchers that employ ethnographic methods but are operating in the shadow of market incentives and the Global War on Terror. It argues that for some topics in certain research settings, uncomfortably, the more care and effort one invests in ethnographic best practices, the more likely it is that the researcher will engage in behaviors that could be confused with spycraft.

RESEARCH

Maria Carreri

The analysis focuses on oil price shocks and local democracy in Colombia, a country mired in civil conflict. When the price of oil rises, legislators affiliated with right-wing paramilitary groups win office more in oil-producing municipalities. Positive price shocks induce an increase in paramilitary violence and reduce electoral competition.

RESEARCH

John Ahlquist

Decades of research across several disciplines have produced substantial evidence that labor unions, on balance, reduce economic disparities. But unions are complicated, multifaceted organizations straddling markets and politics. Much of their equality-promoting influence occurs through their ability to reduce class-based inequity in politics and public policy. Declining unionization across much of the developed world is eroding workers’ bargaining power. Reduced economic leverage puts pressure on union solidarity and weakens labor-based political movements. Important research design problems and significant heterogeneity across unions, regions, countries, and time imply a continued need for more work.