Works in Progress

Is "Constitutional Veneration" an Obstacle to Constitutional Amendment? (with James Zink)

Some recent studies suggest that an aspect of institutional inertia in the US and elsewhere is attributable in part to the public's attitudes about the sanctity of founding documents. We present an experiment that replicates and expands on one of these studies. Our findings support the notion that individuals' "veneration" of the US Constitution biases them against amendment proposals and, furthermore, that individuals' favorable attitudes toward the Constitution specifically render them reluctant to amend it even if they disapprove of the US constitutional system more generally.

The Electoral Effect of Stop-and-Frisk (with Woo Chang Kang)

Scholars have recently demonstrated that negative experiences with law enforcement can have a depressing effect on political participation. Here, we explore the impact of living in a neighborhood targeted by police for stop-and-frisk. To do so, we combine individual electoral participation in the 2009 and 2013 mayoral, 2010 and 2014 midterm, and the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections with records of stop-and-frisk activity in New York City. The results show that overall, stop-and-frisk reduced turnout among registered voters in midterm and mayoral elections. However, the effect of stop-and-frisk depends on individual-level characteristics of citizens living in areas of elevated police activity. Black, male, and older citizens were the most strongly demobilized by stop-and-frisk. Our results suggest that crime prevention strategies may have negative consequences for civic engagement and may exacerbate inequality in representation.

Big Brother Sees You, But Does He Rule You? The Relationship Between Birth Order and Political Participation (with Sven Oskarsson, Karl-Oskar Lindgren, and Richard Ohrvall)

While recent research finds strong evidence that birth order affects outcomes such as education, IQ scores, personality traits, earnings, and health, the evidence for effects on political outcomes is more limited. Based on population-wide data from Sweden, within-family estimates show that firstborns are significantly more likely to vote, stand for and be elected to political office. In addition, we test a number of potential mechanisms mediating the relationship between birth order and political participation. Disconfirming our expectations, the birth order effects do not seem to be mediated by socioeconomic status, cognitive ability or leadership skills. We also show that the birth order effects are unrelated to birth cohort but decrease with age. Our results suggest that big brother not only sees us; to a certain extent he also rules us.

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