Political Economy Workshop (Gov 3007)


Monday, February 6, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS Knafel K354


Co-taught by Professors Kenneth Shepsle and Jeffry Frieden, the Research Workshop in Political Economy (Government 3007) is a year-long graduate seminar that aims to encourage cross-disciplinary research and excellence in graduate training. Political economy is a research tradition that explores how institutions affect political and economic outcomes. The workshop emphasizes the development of dissertation proposals and is a place where graduate students can present their research to an audience of committed and informed peers. It is open to graduate students in the Departments of Government and Economics, and the Program in Political Economy and Government. The workshop holds both internal and public seminars and meetings. At the internal meetings, approximately twelve per semester, graduate students and faculty present their own work to one another. At the public meetings, up to two per semester, leading scholars are invited to Harvard to present their work. Although the workshop is by invitation only, affiliates of the Weatherhead Center are encouraged to attend the public meetings.



Jessie Bullock will present her paper “Territorial Control”. Siddharth George will be the discussant.

Alejandro Lagomarsino will present his paper “Meet the Oligarchs: Business Legitimacy, State Capacity and Taxation”. Edoardo Teso will be the discussant.


Abstract for “Territorial Control”

What role does territory play in criminal organizations’ economic, political, and military strategies? In this paper, I examine different strategies of territorial control by criminal organizations and how they interact with strategies of law enforcement. For many criminal organizations, territorial control is essential to their survival, but different types of territory are riskier or more costly to dominate than others. This paper is the beginning of a theoretical framework for understanding the allocation of territory in a geographic area with many criminal groups fighting amongst themselves and with law enforcement. I propose stylized preferences for both the criminal groups and law enforcement actors, and support the argument with data and examples from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 


Summary for “Meet the Oligarchs: Business Legitimacy, State Capacity and Taxation”

We analyze the role of people’s beliefs about the rich in the determination of public policy in the context of a randomized online survey experiment. A question we study is the desirability of government-private sector meetings, a variable we argue is connected to State capacity. Survey respondents primed with negative views about business leaders want fewer meetings, as well as higher taxes to the top 1% and more regulation. We also study how these effects change when subjects are (additionally) primed with positive/negative views about government officials. Distrust in the government increases the preferred tax rate on the top 1% only when business legitimacy is low. A model with multiple equilibria helps interpret these findings. In one of the equilibria, meetings are allowed, business legitimacy is high, and people set a low income tax rate for businesspeople. In the other, meetings are forbidden, business legitimacy is low, and people set high taxes to punish the businesspeople for their corrupt behavior.