Here you can find a brief description of the two current foci of my research portfolio: firm-level lobbying on trade policy in a cross-national context (the topic of my dissertation and a working paper), and economic dimensions of out-group politics including attitudes toward migrant communities, foreign investors, and ethno-linguistic minorities.
Firms and global trade policy
Scholars of international trade have long noted the tendency among democracies to open up to freer flows of goods and services, and among non-democracies to impose higher tariffs on imports, on average. The explanation for this policy divergence has generally been set up as a trade-off between protectionist special interests and a pro-free-trade public; in democracies, policymakers are expected to prioritize the latter. However, an accumulation of survey data over the past 25 years suggests that typically the voting public neither knows nor cares strongly about economic policy -- and even if they do, they seem to hold a widespread preference for protectionism. My dissertation, and the three article-length manuscripts stemming from it, propose a theory of trade policy differences across regime types that stems entirely from the special interests side.
Rooted in a New New Trade Theory (NNTT) approach, my research highlights established findings that exporting firms operate differently from import-competing ones, both in terms of their production and their political activity; in short, the special interest channel is not uniformly seeking protection. I posit that trade policy is driven less by voters, and more by countervailing lobbying pressures from these two types of firms. Noting that democracies tend to have a greater proportion of internationally-oriented exporting firms than non-democracies, I leverage variation in the composition of the special interest channel to explain differences in economic openness in a sample of approximately 150 countries. Finally, the dissertation sheds light on a possible mechanism through which democracies empower exporting firms while non-democracies discourage them, focusing on theories of market regulation and barriers to entry. The dissertation contributes to literatures in both international and comparative political economy, including those on economic liberalization, special interest politics, and collective action.
My other research projects constitute a "political economy of out-groups", analyzing how material concerns and economic policy shape public sentiment toward (and sometimes laws regulating) migrants and other ethno-linguistic or cultural minorities. In co-authored projects, I investigate how international factor flows condition native-born citizens' attitudes toward immigrants cross-nationally, whether trade relationships influence Russian-language laws among former Soviet republics, and how Chinese and U.S. investment strategies in Latin America result in differences in public opinion regarding the two foreign economic superpowers.
My work has been published in Economics & Politics and Political Research Quarterly. I have also presented it at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, the International Political Economy Society, the International Studies Association, at the One Earth Future Foundation, and at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Behavioral Science.