Research

Publications

State-Level Citizen Response to COVID-19 Containment Measures in Brazil and Mexico, with Claire Dunn. The Journal of Politics in Latin America, 2021.

In Brazil and Mexico, presidents failed to take swift, national action to stop the spread of COVID-19. Instead, the burden of imposing and enforcing public health measures has largely fallen to subnational leaders, resulting in varied approaches within each country and conflicting messaging from elites. We likewise see variation in compliance with social distancing across subnational units. To explain this variation, we contend that citizen responses are driven both by the comprehensiveness of state policies and whether they take cues from national or subnational elites. We hypothesize that support for national and subnational elites, and the nature of the state-level policy response, affect citizen compliance with public health guidelines. In both countries, we find that support for the governor has an interactive relationship with policy response. In Brazil, support for the president is associated with lower compliance. In Mexico, this effect is not present. We argue that these distinct relationships are due to the different cues emerging from each leader.

Political Engagement and Crime Victimization: A Causal Analysis, Revista Latinoamericana de Opinión Publica, 2021.

In recent years, research has demonstrated that crime victimization serves as a catalyst to political engagement. However, much of this work has not addressed two key issues: 1) the true causality of this relationship, and 2) how victims’ identities and personal experiences might influence this relationship. This paper tackles these issues by testing the effect of victimization on non-electoral engagement using the Two-City, Six-Wave panel survey administered in Brazil between 2002 and 2006. It finds that the causal relationship between victimization and engagement only exists for participation in political party meetings. Furthermore, when exploring the role of individual identity and community context, only men, those who live in safe neighborhoods, and White Brazilians experience an increase in their engagement. Meanwhile, women, those in unsafe neighborhoods, and Afro-Brazilians do not experience such an increase. Those who have not experienced discrimination also increase their participation, while those who have experienced discrimination do not.

Working Papers

Progressive Ideology and Support for Tough-on-Crime Policy: Evidence from Brazil and Argentina (expected submission Winter 2021/2022)

Literature on support for crime policy has often focused on citizen preference for one of two “opposing” approaches to fighting crime: punitive, repressive solutions (at the extreme, mano dura practices) or social policy-oriented, preventative solutions. Past literature indicates that ideology is a major factor in influencing such support, with ideologically conservative individuals supporting punitive solutions, and progressives supporting social policy-oriented approaches. I argue that this ideological explanation is insufficient. Rather, I build on research that suggests certain experiences and perceptual factors strongly influence support for punitive policies. I contend that not only do these factors influence the general population, but they also transcend the influence of ideology. I argue that victimization and insecurity, the perceived ineffectiveness of social policy, and perceptions that crime is gang-related lead not only the general public to support punitive solutions, but does so among progressive individuals as well. I explore this phenomenon in the context of vote choice using a conjoint survey experiment fielded in Argentina and Brazil. I demonstrate that predominantly perceptions, rather than victimization, lead ideologically progressive voters to prefer gubernatorial candidates who offer punitive solutions to crime. I show the external validity of my results by replicating them using observational data from the Americasbarometer.

Who is to Blame? Understanding the Motivations and Justifications for Youth Crime in Urban Mexico, with Omar García-Ponce, Vivian Bronsoler, & Elisa Lavore (expected submission Winter 2021/2022)

Youths represent a large fraction of the victims and perpetrators of violent crime across the world. Understanding how youths make judgments about both criminal events and the actor(s) responsible has important theoretical and policy implications as patterns of blame attribution are associated with beliefs about the acceptability of criminal behavior. We use a mixed-method approach to examine patterns of blame attribution with regard to youth crime in urban Mexico. In particular, we explore what factors contribute to youths blaming a peer perpetrator vs. their government for a specific crime. First, following standard theories of attribution of responsibility, we conduct a vignette experiment with nearly 3000 individuals aged 16-29 in urban Mexico to test whether context-specific factors related to background experiences and living conditions, as well as the types of criminal behavior and involvement, influence assessments of blame. Second, we conduct a series of sequential focus groups with at-risk youths. Our findings indicate that the socioeconomic status of the perpetrator and the type of criminal involvement significantly influence assessments of blame for both the perpetrator and government.

Estimating Actual Crime Rates and the ‘Dark Figure’ of Crime Using Bayesian Additive Regression Trees Plus Poststratification (BARP)

Partisanship & Electoral Cycle Effects in Latin America: Correction Measures and Implications, with Jonathan Hartlyn

The Legacy of Mexico’s Drug War on Youth Political Attitudes, with Omar García-Ponce