Political Economy Workshop (Gov 3007)


Monday, March 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.




Soeren Henn will present his paper “The Impacts of Weak State Capacity in Rural Africa”. Chris Lucas will be the discussant.


Egor Abramov will lead a brainstorming session entitled “Don't Blame Facebook: Competition and Media Quality”.


Abstract for “The Impacts of Weak State Capacity in Rural Africa”

Traditional authorities, family networks, and ethnic ties play an important role in rural Africa. This paper explores how central state capacity complements or substitutes the power of these local informal institutions. Existing studies lack convincing exogenous variation to estimate the causal impact of central state capacity. Using geocoded responses to the Afrobarometer and DHS surveys, I consider the distance of respondents to their district headquarters as a measure for state capacity. Comparing respondents at the border of neighboring districts, I obtain quasi-random variation in their distance to the central state, while holding other characteristics constant.


Abstract for “Don't Blame Facebook: Competition and Media Quality” 

The question of whether more competition in media market is good for the quality of news has been receiving lots of attention in the recent years when the issue of fake-news proliferation has become increasingly salient. We build a model of a duopoly in a news media market, where news outlets can produce either hard or soft information. Employing the model, we show that trust in media plays an important role in the market along with the most popular explanations of the trend such as higher polarization of the society and lower entry costs. We discuss the implications of the model, using the example of the 2016 presidential elections, and suggest how the framework can be used to model media capture in an unconventional way.