Political Economy Workshop (Gov 3007)


Monday, February 13, 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.





Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadon will present his paper “Agglomeration and inequality in educational outcomes: evidence from the United States”. Mauricio Fernández Duque will be the discussant.

Eduardo Montero will present his paper “Mistrust in Medicine: The Legacy of Colonial Medical Campaigns in Central Africa”. Pablo Balan will be the discussant.


Abstract for “Agglomeration and inequality in educational outcomes: evidence from the United States”

Is the distribution of the population across space related with inequality of the delivery of government services? While cities and higher density areas have agglomeration advantages that have been shown them more productive and even healthier, they often are also places of great inequality. In this paper, I explore the hypothesis that the density of the population in a geographic space may facilitate the sorting of students and families of diverging fortunes and thus may be associated with higher levels of inequality in school outcomes. By looking at within-commuter zone inequality in student outcomes (leveraging restricted access microdata from the United States’ NAEP), I find that denser commuter zones have greater levels of between-student and between-district inequality in student outcomes, even when socio-economic differences are taken into account. These are consistent with smaller positive effects of density for students disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. One possible explanation is the existence of a separating equilibrium in space where agglomeration of families in space allows certain parental groups to benefit more than others from the additional amenities and opportunities for choice that denser locations grant. Using a nationally representative survey, I hypothesize and find support for a mechanism that potentially contributes to this relation: better information and increased accountability from citizens about schools in denser commuter zones. Those who are capable or willing can utilize it to their advantage. This is potentially an important dimension of agglomeration economies in the delivery of public services and one that may contribute to explain the variation in social mobility levels across different areas in the United States.


Abstract for “Mistrust in Medicine: The Legacy of Colonial Medical Campaigns in Central Africa” (with Sara Lowes)

We examine the legacy of French colonial medical campaigns for trust in modern medicine. Between 1921 and 1958, the French military organized medical campaigns focused on treating and preventing sleeping sickness. The campaigns forced individuals to participate and used medications with harsh, sometimes fatal, side effects. We digitized over thirty years of French colonial records that document the locations of campaign visits and the intensity of treatment at a granular geographic level for Cameroon and former French Equatorial Africa (present day Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, and Gabon). We use Demographic and Health Survey data to examine how exposure to the historical campaigns affects trust in medicine -- measured by willingness to take a blood test for anemia or HIV. We show a significant and positive effect of historical exposure to campaigns on refusal to consent to a blood test. We then examine the importance of these historical campaigns for present day health policy. We use a difference-in-differences strategy and a universal measles campaign in Cameroon to show that those areas more exposed to the colonial medical campaigns are less likely to have their children vaccinated during the measles campaign.