I am currently Senior Data Scientist at Big League Advance. I received my Ph.D. in Politics at Princeton University in 2020. My dissertation, “Trade Policy in the Shadow of Power,” studied how military coercion affects the structure of the international economy – where economic activity is located and who trades with whom. In another line of research, I study exchange and violence in black markets. At Princeton, I taught the Politics Department’s summer math course for incoming graduate students, along with Daniel Gibbs. Before starting graduate school, I worked at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington D.C. and studied Political Science and Peace, War, & Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Trade Policy in the Shadow of Power: Theory and Evidence on Economic Openness and Coercive Diplomacy
- Trade Policy in the Shadow of Power: Quantifying Military Coercion in the International System
Last updated 28 July 2020.
In international relations, how does latent military coercion affect governments’ policy choices? Because militarily powerful governments can credibly threaten to impose their policy preferences by force, weaker governments may adjust their policy choices to avoid costly conflict. This setting raises an inference problem – do observed policies reflect the preferences of the governments that adopted them or the military constraints of the anarchic international system? Here, I investigate the role of this “shadow of power” in determining trade policy. Specifically, I build a model of trade policy choice under threat that allows me to measure empirically governments’ underlying trade policy preferences, the returns to military advantage, and the extent to which power projection capacity degrades across space. I then estimate the parameters of the model using data on governments' observed trade policies in 2011. I find that geographic distance is not an impediment to the projection of force but that there are increasing returns to military advantage in the technology of coercion. Through counterfactual experiments, I quantify the effect of military constraints on the international economy and governments' welfare. These and other exercises simultaneously shed light on how military power affects international economic exchange, and how patterns of trade and protectionism affect the governments' propensity to engage in military conflict.
APSA 2019, Formal Models of International Relations 2020
- How Wide is the Ethnic Border?
with Scott F Abramson and Bethany Lacina. Last updated 26 June 2020.
In this study, we explore the relationship between ethnic heterogeneity and within- and cross-country barriers to trade. We develop a spatial model of trade in which observable weather shocks affect local productivity. These shocks directly affect local prices and propagate through the trading network differentially depending on unobserved trading frictions. Coupling data describing monthly commodity prices in 230 cities across 42 African counties, remotely sensed weather data, and spatial data describing the locations of ethnic-group homelands, we estimate this model to quantify the costs traders incur when crossing ethnic and national borders. Our results show that ethnic borders induce a friction approximately one quarter the magnitude of national borders, indicating that ethnic heterogeneity is an impediment to the development of efficient national markets. Through counterfactual experiments, we quantify the effect of these frictions on prices and the extent to which colonial-era political borders have hindered African economic integration. In all, our paper suggests that trade impediments caused by ethnic borders are a substantial channel through which ethnic fractionalization impacts development.
- Gunshots and Turf Wars: Inferring Gang Territories from Shooting Reports
with Noam Reich. Last updated 24 April 2020.
Street gangs are conjectured to engage in violent territorial competition. This competition can be difficult to study empirically as the number of gangs and the division of territory between them are usually unobserved to the analyst. However, traces of gang conflict manifest themselves in police and administrative data on violent crime. In this paper, we show that the frequency and location of shootings are sufficient statistics number of gangs in operation and the territorial partition beween them under mild assumptions about the data generating processes for gang-related and non-gang related shootings. We then show how to estimate this territorial partition from a panel of geolocated shooting data. We apply our method to analyze the structure of gang territorial competition in Chicago using victim-based crime reports from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and validate our methodology on gang territorial maps produced by the CPD. We detect the presence of 3-4 gangs whose estimated territorial footprints we match to CPD maps. After matching, 56-60 percent of our partition labels agree with those of the CPD. This performance compares favorably to an agreement rate of 35 percent when CPD labels are randomly permuted.
- Estimating Policy Barriers to Trade
Last updated 18 May 2020.
To what extent is international trade free and fair? Because policy barriers to trade are often opaque and take on many forms, it is difficult to answer this question while relying on data on observable trade barriers. Here, I propose and implement a structural approach to estimating the magnitude of policy barriers to trade, measured at the trade partner level. The method allows for the possibility that these barriers are both asymmetric and discriminatory, affecting certain trade partners disproportionately. The approach reveals substantial latent policy barriers to trade, many times larger than observed tariffs. It also implies substantial effective policy discrimination, with exporters in subset of favored countries enjoying far superior market access conditions than their peers in unfavored countries. Combined, these results suggest that the existing world trading system remains far from a free and fair ideal.
MPSA 2019, ISA-MW 2019, SPSA 2020
- Gunboat Diplomacy: Political Bias, Trade Policy, and War
Last updated 13 November 2019.
Countries with deep trading relationships rarely fight wars with one another. Here, I develop a theory of trade, war, and political bias, in which both trade and war are endogenous objects. Governments can rectify poor market access conditions abroad through war and subsequent regime change, in which the victorious country installs a liberal “puppet” government abroad. Trade policy bargaining is therefore conducted “in the shadow of power,” with counterfactual wars shaping the policy choices that prevail in times of peace. When peace prevails, militarily weak countries are more open to trade than powerful ones, all else equal. Equilibrium trade policies balance domestic interests against military threats from abroad. War is less likely between liberal governments because they prefer less protectionist trade policies. As a result, trade flows and the probability of peace are positively correlated in equilibrium, even though trade does not cause peace.
MPSA 2018, SPSA 2019, ISA 2019, Online Peace Science Colloquium 2019
Works in Progress
- Prohibition, Theft, and Violence: Monopolistic Pricing and Exchange in Illicit Markets
with Colin Krainin and Kristopher Ramsay
- Market Structure, Military Coercion, and the International Politics of Oil Production
Summer 2018, Summer 2019
Co-taught with Dan Gibbs
- POL 240 / WWS 312: International Relations (Preceptor)
Professor: Andrew Moravcsik
- POL 387: International Intervention and the Use of Force (Preceptor)
Professor: Melissa Lee
- ENG 102: Introduction to Literary Analysis
Princeton Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI), Garden State Youth Correctional Facility
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Carolina Students Taking Academic Responsibility Through Teaching (C-START) Program
R code to calculate distances between historical capital cities, 1816-present
R code to read, clean, and count international dyadic event data