Selected theses 2019-2020

Engendering Support? The Effects of Gendered Information Cues on Voters' Policy Preferences

Sunny Drescher '20

Men and women have had the same political rights in the United States for decades, but there is still gender inequality with respect to representation in government. This pervasive issue raises questions about the extent to which there are perceived differences in men and women's ability to affect political or policy change. There has been abundant research on women's viability as political candidates and how gender can function as an information cue that impacts voters' candidate preferences. But there have been surprisingly limited studies examining the extent to which gendered information cues impact voters' policy preferences. To address this issue, this project uses a pre-registered survey experiment on a national sample of American voters, using hypothetical ballot measures with elite or public cues that encourage study participants support the measures. The results of estimating the impacts of different gendered cues embedded in these ballot measures suggest that the content of the initiative conveying information about policy itself matters more than the cues that aim to impact support. This finding suggests that voters care more about the substance of an issue than additional information provided in its messaging.

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Oscillating Replicator Dynamics with Attractor Arcs: A Game-Theoretical Exploration of Technology, Policy and Market Influences on Gig Economy Labor Strategies

Kevin Hu '20

With economic prevalence that extends to the labor markets of the early Roman Empire [57], the concept of contract work has existed for millennia, manifesting in different forms across societies and temporal interludes [8]. In recent decades, contract or "gig" work has emerged as a commanding employment category in the United States, having captured more than one third of the labor market by 2018 [21]. At the cornerstone of this development are online labor marketplaces that facilitate the exchange of talent and capital between firms and workers, effectively decreasing hiring frictions and increasing labor liquidity [10, 18, 38]. The result of this infrastructure furtherance takes form in a novel, complementary contract-based labor market monikered the sharing, collaborative or gig economy [13, 55, 50, 64].

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Building Blocks of Opportunity? The Effect of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits on Intergenerational Income Mobility for Disadvantaged Youths

Aidan Sheinberg '20

New research reveals substantial variation in intergenerational mobility depending on one's neighborhood of origin. These findings warrant a closer inspection of the characteristics and policies effecting neighborhoods on a child's long-term outcomes. Using new data on economic mobility estimates by census tract for all U.S. children born between 1978 and 1983, I examine the impact of affordable housing created by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program on rates of upward intergenerational income mobility across U.S. neighborhoods. While OLS regression models show a nonsignificant association between the rate of affordable housing in atract and children's upward absolute income mobility, a two-stage least squares (2SLS) instrumental variable model, which exploits variation in a neighborhood's Qualified Census Tract (QCT) status, reveals a significant positive association between affordable housing and upward intergenerational mobility of low-income neighborhoods. Overall, this paper contributes to the body of literature assessing the effectiveness of this government policy and lays a foundation for examining the effect of a broader range of government housing initiatives on mobility outcomes.  

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How Network Structure and Cultural Sentiments Shape Affective Alignment and Behavior Dynamics in Online Collaborative Task Groups

Andrea Sedlacek '20

Given the increase of technology and work in online contexts, understanding the social forces behind self-organized collaboration is becoming increasingly important. Our society is what scholars have described as an emerging distributed economy and digital democracy (Townsend 2013, Blowfield & Johnson 2012, Bogers & West 2012, Helbing & Pournaras 2015). The collaborative development of software in online social coding communities like GitHub is a key example of these economic changes. GitHub is an open source software development platform designed for teams to host and review code, manage projects, and build software online. Currently, more than 2.9 million businesses and organizations use GitHub, including Google, Facebook, NASA, Bloomberg, SAP, and IBM (GitHub 2020). GitHub's membership base is growing exponentially, showing that work is moving in this direction. The creation of economic value and political problem solving is transitioning to this informal, online setting. A better understanding of online collaborative dynamics, the components and processes existent in any technology-mediated group interaction, is of increasing public and academic concern. The COVID-19 pandemic aggravates these changing dynamics as people are increasingly working online, making this topic even more relevant. By exploring group dynamics in open-source environments like GitHub, scholars can further understand the social and psychological mechanisms that drive human collaboration in the 21st century.

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Consensus in Care: Deservingness, Policy Feedback, and Partisanship in the U.S. Long-Term Care System

Grace Sherrill '20

In the United States, the public long-term care program is a politically unique entity. Medicaid long-term care combines elements of social and health policy, sits at the intersection of means-tested and universal programs, and is rapidly departing from its original purpose to meet the demands of an aging middleclass population. Currently, it is unclear how the unique program structure of the United States' public long-term care benefit impacts support for the program and its beneficiaries. This paper investigates three main research questions: (1) Do cues about the deservingness of long-term care beneficiaries, such as the ailment necessitating care, impact support for long-term care in a manner similar to other health and social benefits? (2) How does the long-term care benefit's relationship to Medicaid, a means-tested program, impact both overall evaluations and the effect of cues about beneficiary deservingness? (3) Does public opinion about the hypothetical beneficiaries of government programs change when the beneficiaries' political party is known? Using a survey experiment, we manipulate various characteristics of a hypothetical long-term care beneficiary to investigate these questions. While survey respondents have stronger support for providing long-term care to dementia patients rather than smokers, the effect is small and overall support for the program remains high. Further, the program's relationship to Medicaid does not change this pattern and, if anything, serves to decrease the effect of cues about deservingness on evaluations of beneficiaries and the program. Finally, contrary to a broad body of literature on affective partisan polarization, partisans do not consistently or significantly disfavor beneficiaries of the opposite political party in the context of support for receiving government long-term care. This research suggests that in a time of increasing partisan polarization, the long-term care benefit does not activate many of the partisan hostilities that traditionally accompany means-tested health and social policy. Americans generally support long-term care, regardless of its relationship to Medicaid, and these patterns of support are not substantially altered in the face of cues about long-term care beneficiaries' political party or level of responsibility for their current condition.

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