ARE Faculty and Three Alumni Publish in the Current Issue of the AER

October 27, 2022

Persistent Polarizing Effects of Persuasion: Experimental Evidence from Turkey
Ceren Baysan

"I evaluate randomly varied neighborhood exposure to information campaigns regarding either executive performance, or increases in executive power, prior to a Turkish referendum on weakening checks and balances on the executive. The campaigns increased voter polarization over the referendum, and subsequently changed party affiliation in national and local elections over the next two years, leading to partisan polarization. My results suggest that, when voters disagree on whether increasing executive power is a good policy, more information can increase voter polarization. Finally, I conclude that because potential polarization is often ignored, the impact of information campaigns on civil society is underestimated."

Vulnerability and Clientelism
Gustavo J. Bobonis, Paul J. Gertler, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro and Simeon Nichter

"This study argues that economic vulnerability causes citizens to participate in clientelism, a phenomenon with various pernicious consequences. To examine how reduced vulnerability affects citizens' participation in clientelism, we employ two exogenous shocks to vulnerability. First, we designed a randomized control trial to reduce household vulnerability: our development intervention constructed residential water cisterns in drought-prone areas of Brazil. Second, we exploit rainfall shocks. We find that reducing vulnerability significantly decreases requests for private goods from politicians, especially among citizens likely to be in clientelist relationships. Moreover, reducing vulnerability decreases votes for incumbent mayors, who typically have more resources for clientelism."

The Psychosocial Value of Employment: Evidence from a Refugee Camp
Reshmaan Hussam, Erin M. Kelley, Gregory Lane and Fatima Zahra

"Employment may be important to well-being for reasons beyond its role as an income source. This paper presents a causal estimate of the psychosocial value of employment in refugee camps in Bangladesh. We involve 745 individuals in a field experiment with three arms: a control arm, a weekly cash arm, and an employment arm of equal value. Employment raises psychosocial well-being substantially more than cash alone, and 66 percent of the employed are willing to forgo cash payments to continue working temporarily for free. Despite material poverty, those in our context both experience and recognize a nonmonetary, psychosocial value to employment."