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Center for Public Policy Events

The Hobby School of Public Affairs invites you to attend the Center for Public Policy speaker events.


Upcoming Speakers      


CPP Energy Transition and Policy Speaker Series: 

Casey WichmanCasey Wichman (Georgia Tech)

Date and time: March 22 at 4-5:30pm

Location: Science building Room 102

Title:“Causes and consequences of inefficient municipal water pricing.”

Abstract: Municipal water utilities often design rate structures to recover costs, encourage conservation, and reduce burdens on low-income customers. Implementing these goals jointly may pull water prices away from economically efficient two-part tariffs. In this paper, I characterize the extent to which utilities deviate from efficient pricing using a decade of annual rates and municipal finance data for more than 700 water and wastewater utilities in the southeastern US. I show that, on average, utilities price water below average and marginal cost, which is exacerbated by increasing-block rate structures where inframarginal prices are discounted more severely. These suppressed volumetric rates are larger in poorer communities, and offset by historical water scarcity, suggesting a direct equity-efficiency-environmental tradeoff. Estimated revenue elasticities imply that utilities can increase revenue and conservation and reduce deadweight loss from overconsumption, by implementing constant marginal cost pricing.

Bio: Casey Wichman is an Assistant Professor in the School of Economics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also a University Fellow at Resources for the Future and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management and Resource and Energy Economics. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, he served as the Research Director of the Energy & Environment Lab at the University of Chicago and as a Fellow at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC. He received his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland in 2015. His graduate work subsequently received the AERE and AAEA outstanding doctoral dissertation awards.


CPP Speaker Series:

Mariano Tommasi (Universidad de San Andres, Argentina)

Date and time: March 29 at 4-5:30pm

Location: Science building Room 120



CPP Speaker Series Presents:

scott-tyson.pngScott Tyson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Quantitative Theory and Methods, Emory University

Date and time: April 4 at 4-5:30pm

Location: Science building Room 120

Title: Deterrence and Economic Sanctions

Abstract: How economic sanctions influence the behavior of potentially aggressive foreign actors has generated a lively debate. Providing a clear and reliable answer has proven particularly elusive, especially in light of challenges presented by selection problems that permeate the empirical study of international relations. Economic sanctions are often treated in isolation, rather than being one policy tool among the many available in a country's diplomatic toolkit. We develop a theory to study sanctions and military threats together, building on canonical models of deterrence, where a defender and an aggressor interact strategically. We derive conditions identifying when military threats and sanctions are substitutes and when they are complements. Regarding the latter, we show that in some cases economic sanctions make deterrence via military threats possible, when it would otherwise fail completely. Our results also offer a series of insights about the empirical estimation of the effect of sanctions on challenges to the status quo by aggressors. Failing to consider the presence of the (possibly unobservable) deterrent effect of military retaliation threats, might lead sometimes to underestimate and sometimes to overestimate the effect of sanctions, depending on the strength of the aggressor.

About the speaker: Scott Tyson is an associate professor at Emory University, department of Quantitative Theory and Methods. His research focuses on formal political theory, political economy, conflict, authoritarian politics, experimental design, and theoretical implications of empirical models. He is an Associate Editor for formal theory at Political Science Research & Methods, the Journal of the European Political Science Association.


Department of Economics and Hobby School of Public Affairs

Political Economy Speaker Series

john-londreganJohn Londregan, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

Date: April 25, 4-5:15pm

Location: S120

Paper title: "The Rhetorical Response to Electoral Defeat at Chile's First Constituent Convention”

(with Jorge Fabriga, Universidad de Desarollo, Chile)

Abstract: We employ the Sparse Factor Analysis approach of Kim (2019) to speeches made and votes cast by members of Chile's Constituent Assembly of 2021-2022. We identify two dimensions of conflict, the first corresponds to the standard left-right rift found in most legislatures, while the second corresponds affect for the convention itself. The delegates on the right divide into two clusters--notably the delegates divide into two clusters. One coalition, RN-Evopoli, takes a very pro-convention stance, the other, UDI, stakes out a starkly anti-convention position. We find systematic differences between party militants and independents affiliated with the same party.

About the speaker: John Londregan is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, where he works on political economy and political methodology.  He is  the author of Legislative Institutions in Chile, and he has published in  political science and economics journals including the APSR, IO, World  Politics, Political Analysis, the QJE and the Rand Journal of Economics.  He  is a founding member of the Academic Freedom Alliance and currently  serves as President of the Princeton chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.  He earned  his PhD at Princeton, and he has also taught at UCLA and at Carnegie-Mellon.  


Past Speakers

CPP Speaker Series Presents:

winters_uiucheadshot-002.jpgMatthew S. Winters, Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Illinois

Date and time: February 10, 11-12:15pm

Location: Science Building RM S102

Title: “Knowledge of Social Rights and Engagement with the State” 

Abstract: What explains why some citizens gain access to state-funded social benefits and programs to which they are entitled while others do not? Lower and middle-income democracies today promise more social benefits to more citizens than they have at any time in the past. Beyond simply representing responses to material need, the spread of social programs and the growth in parchment guarantees of social rights reflect an increasingly widespread view among politicians, policymakers, and citizens that social rights are an integral component of democratic citizenship. While the state’s promise of social rights has expanded greatly in many lower and middle-income democracies, a vast literature demonstrates that access to these benefits – and hence the effective exercise of these social rights – remains highly uneven. We argue that citizen knowledge of social rights (KSR) increases individuals’ sense of entitlement to benefits and expectations that they will receive those benefits from the government, making people with KSR more likely to pursue access to government programs. We present results from a survey experiment in Brazil that explores how people's attitudes toward social programs vary with a prime reminding them of their social rights.

Bio: Matthew S. Winters is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois.  His research interests include the allocation and effectiveness of foreign aid, the political-economy of governance, and voter attitudes toward corruption.  He has conducted research in Bangladesh, Brazil, Indonesia, Malawi, Mali, and Uganda.  Winters has published articles in Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, International Studies Quarterly, World Development, World Politics, and Political Research Quarterly, among other outlets, and has worked as a consultant for USAID, AusAID, and the World Bank’s Independent Evaluations Group.  Winters received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University, was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University, and has held a Council on Foreign Relations / Hitachi International Affairs Fellowship in Japan.


CPP Speaker Series Present: 

prof_pic.jpgTara Slough

Date: January 23, 2023

Time: 4:00 - 5:30PM

Location: Science Building Room 243 (S243) 

Title: Bureaucratic Quality and Electoral Accountability

Bio: Tara Slough is an Assistant Professor in the Wilf Family Department of Politics at New York University. She writes on the political economy of institutions and development. Tara's current research focuses on the comparative study of bureaucracies and on research design. Her work appears in journals including the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of PoliticsScience, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others, and has been supported by grants from the NSF, USAID, EGAP/DFID, J-PAL, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Innovations for Poverty Action. Tara recently earned her PhD from Columbia University. 

Abstract: In many theories of electoral accountability, voters learn about an incumbent’s quality by observing public goods outcomes. But empirical findings are mixed, suggesting that increasing the visibility of these outcomes only sometimes improves accountability. I reconcile these apparently conflicting findings by highlighting bureaucrats’ role in the production of public goods. In a simple model of electoral accountability involving a voter, a politician, and a bureaucrat, I show that accountability relations yield distinct empirical implications at different levels of bureaucratic quality. These predictions rationalize some existing conflicting empirical findings. To illustrate how my model makes sense of these otherwise inconsistent results, I develop a new research design—a theoretically structured meta-study—to synthesize existing findings. Evidence from two such meta-studies suggests that a common model of electoral accountability that allows for variation in bureaucratic quality can reconcile conflicting findings on accountability from multiple contexts.


Department of Economics and Hobby School Center for Public Policy

Political Economy Speaker Series 

Please join us for a talk by: 

rocio.jpgRocío Titiunik, PhD 

Department of Politics, Princeton University

Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Time:  4:00-5:15pm

Location: Science Building Room 202 (S202) 

Title: "The Incumbency Curse in Developing Economies

We study the incumbency advantage of political parties in developing democracies. Focusing on Latin America's subnational executive elections, we start by documenting that in many countries, political parties that win an election have a significantly lower chance of victory in the following election. This incumbency disadvantage phenomenon is systematic, and affects countries with diverse political systems. We conjecture an explanation based on the interaction between individual politicians and their parties: if the party is limited in its ability to incentivize politicians, politicians may choose actions that hurt the party brand, and voters may in turn punish the party for the behavior of politicians who are no longer on the ballot. This is likely to occur in a context where careers have short time horizons. We study term limits reforms in several Latin American countries and show that, within and across countries, the phenomenon of incumbency disadvantage is in fact related to the time horizon of individual politicians' careers. We also show that the incumbency curse seems to afflict parties that are weak or weakening. Our results suggest that the curse of incumbency may lead to a self-reinforcing cycle of party system erosion.

[The presentation is based on a book length manuscript. For background reading check the following paper:]

About the SpeakerRocío Titiunik (Princeton University)

Rocío Titiunik is Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also an associated faculty with the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning, the Program in Latin American Studies, the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, and the Research Program in Political Economy. She specializes in quantitative methodology for the social and behavioral sciences, with emphasis on quasi-experimental methods for causal inference and program evaluation. Her research interests lie at the intersection of political economy, political science, statistics, and data science, particularly on the development and application of quantitative methods to the study of political institutions. Her recent methodological research includes the development of statistical methods for regression discontinuity (RD) designs. Her recent substantive research centers on democratic accountability and the role of party systems in developing democracies.


Department of Economics and Hobby School’s Center for Public Policy Political Economy Speaker Series

teso.jpgSpeakerEdoardo Teso, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Time: 4:00-5:15pm
Location: Science Building Room 202 (S202) 

Title: "Politics at Work" (with Emanuele Colonnelli and Valdemar Pinho Neto)

Abstract: We study how individual political views shape firm behavior and la- bor market outcomes. Using new micro-data on the political affiliation of business owners and private-sector workers in Brazil over the 2002–2019 period, we first document the presence of political assortative matching: business owners are sig- nificantly more likely to employ copartisan workers. Political assortative matching is larger in magnitude than assortative matching along gender and racial lines. We then provide three sets of results consistent with the presence of employers’ polit- ical discrimination. First, several patterns in the micro-data and an event study are consistent with a discrimination channel. Second, we conduct an incentivized resume rating field experiment showing that owners have a direct preference for copartisan workers opposed to workers from a different party. Third, we conduct representative large-scale surveys of owners and workers revealing that labor mar- ket participants view employers’ discrimination as the leading explanation behind our findings. We conclude by presenting evidence suggesting that political discrim- ination in the workplace has additional real consequences: copartisan workers are paid more and are promoted faster within the firm, despite being less qualified; firms displaying stronger degrees of political assortative matching grow less than comparable firms. 

About the Speaker: Edoardo Teso is an Associate Professor (without tenure) of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Teso's research is in the areas of political economy, organizational economics, and development economics, He obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University in May 2018.


jake-g.pngMay 3, 4 p.m.
Jake Grumbach, University of Washington
Title: Laboratories of Democratic Backsliding

Political Economy Speaker Series
 co-hosted with the Department of Economics
In-Person: Science Building, Room 101
Via Zoom: Contact 

Abstract: The Trump presidency generated concern about democratic backsliding and renewed interest in measuring the national democratic performance of the United States. However, the U.S. has a decentralized form of federalism that administers democratic institutions at the state level. Using 51 indicators of electoral democracy from 2000 to 2018, we develop a measure of subnational democratic performance, the State Democracy Index. We then test theories of democratic expansion and backsliding based in party competition, polarization, demographic change, and the group interests of national party coalitions. Difference-in-differences results suggest a minimal role for all factors except Republican control of state government, which dramatically reduces states’ democratic performance during this period. This result calls into question theories focused on changes within states. The racial, geographic, and economic incentives of groups in national party coalitions may instead determine the health of democracy in the states.

Link to paper.

About the Speaker: Jacob (Jake) M. Grumbach is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. He received his PhD from UC Berkeley in spring of 2018 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton. Professor Grumbach's research focuses broadly on the political economy of the United States. He is particularly interested in public policy, American federalism, racial capitalism, campaign finance, and statistical methods. His book project, based on his award-winning dissertation, investigates the causes and consequences of the nationalization of state politics since the 1970s. Additional recent projects investigate labor unions, election law, and race and gender in campaign finance. Professor Grumbach teaches courses in statistics for the social sciences and in state and local politics.


grossman.jpgApril 29, 10:30 a.m.
Guy Grossman, University of Pennsylvania
Title: Voted In, Standing Out: Public Response to Immigrants' Political Accession

Center for Public Policy Speaker Series
10:30am-12:00pm, Science Building, Room 101

Info for about the speaker:

Professor at the political science department at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is in applied political economy, with a substantive focus on governance, migration and forced displacement, human trafficking, and conflict processes, (mostly) in the context of developing countries.

Founder and co-director of Penn’s Development Research Initiative (PDRI). Launched in 2020, PDRI brings together faculty and graduate students from across Penn whose research seeks to identify solutions to the challenges facing low- and middle-income countries. PDRI seeks to foster impactful international development research by harnessing the expertise of its affiliates from various disciplines and utilizing diverse methodological approaches.

Link to paper


meng_headshot.jpegApril 21, 4 p.m.
Anne Meng, University of Virginia
Title: Power Sharing and Authoritarian Stability: How Rebel Regimes Solve the Guardianship Dilemma
Center for Public Policy Speaker Series
Location: Science Building Room 105 

Abstract: Regimes founded in rebellion are, typically, extremely durable. We propose that this stability is founded upon peaceful power sharing between the rebel regime leader and military elites. Amid long and intense fighting, rebel leaders must delegate control to top military commanders because doing so helps them to win battles. After seizing power, power-sharing deals between former combatants are highly credible due to their history of interactions, which mitigates the guardianship dilemma. Elsewhere, a persistent internal security dilemma often undermines power-sharing deals. Using originally collected data on African regimes from 1960–2017, we establish that rebel regimes break down seldomly compared to other authoritarian regimes, and experience fewer coups. Regarding the mechanism, rebel regimes more frequently share power with military elites by appointing a Minister of Defense. These Ministers are typically high-ranking members of the rebellion, which reflects the regime’s replacement of the state military with their own.

About the speaker: Anne Meng is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. Her research centers on authoritarian politics, institutions, and elite powersharing. Her book, Constraining Dictatorship: From Personalized Rule to Institutionalized Regimes (Cambridge University Press, 2020), examines how executive constraints become established in dictatorships, particularly within constitutions and presidential cabinets. She has also published articles on authoritarian ruling parties, opposition cooptation, term limit evasion, and leadership succession in top journals, including the APSR and BJPS. 


April 19, 4 p.m.
Diana Moreira, University of California, Davis
Title: Who Benefits from Meritocracy?
Location: Science Building Room 105
Political Economy Speaker Series co-hosted with the Department of Economics
Those interested in attending should contact for the zoom link

About the speaker: Dr. Diana Moreira is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis, Department of Economics. She is also a Faculty Affiliate at Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development BREAD and at the Center for Effective Global Action CEGA, an Invited Researcher for JPAL and Weiss Family Fund, and a Lemann Fellow. Dr. Moreira’s current research focus is in the field of Development Economics, in particular, its intersection with Public, Political and Organizational Economics. She is interested in two topics, poor governance in governments and social mobility, both of which she studies in the developing economies context. Her research has been published in the American Economic Review, in the Journal of Public Economics and has been featured in leading Brazilian media outlets. Dr. Moreira earned a PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University. She has worked in the World Bank at Washington DC supporting countries in the Latin America and Caribbean Region and countries in the South Asia Region.


pablo-valdez.pngApril 19, 1 p.m.
Pablo Valdez, retired US Foreign Service Diplomat 
Title: U.S. Climate Change Policy and International Negotiations -- Where do we stand on climate and where are we going?
Room 132 A in Roy Cullen Building

About the speaker: Pablo Valdez is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Diplomat and environmental engineer who has focused most of his career on water, climate, and environmental issues, particularly in Latin America. He served in the federal government for 22 years in six countries, the Texas state government, and the private sector.  Most recently he was the Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia.  He also served in Mexico City, Santiago, Washington DC, Jakarta, and Lima.


April 11, Time: 4 p.m. 
Peter Gourevitch, University of California, San Diego
Title: Identity and interests in the polarization debate: Is Democracy in Danger and Does the War in Ukraine make it worse?
Center for Public Policy Speaker Series
Location: S116


March 22, 4 p.m.
Brian Knight, Brown University
"Vote Early and Vote Often?: Detecting Electoral Fraud from the Timing of 19th Century Elections"
Political Economy Speaker Series co-hosted with the Department of Economics
Science Building, Room S101
Those interested in attending virtually should contact


March 3, 4 p.m.
“Reference Points and Democratic Backsliding,” Carlo Prato, Columbia University
(Co-author Edoardo Grillo, University of Turin - Collegio Carlo Alberto)
Political Economy Speaker Series co-hosted with the Department of Economics
Science Building, Room S101