RESEARCH

My research interests include comparative political economy, comparative capitalism, institutions, electoral competition, political parties, state-business relationship, climate change policy, energy policy, environmental policy and long-term policy.

My Google Scholar profile can be found here.

Ph.D. Thesis

Title: “Low Carbon for the Long Term: Essays on the Comparative Political Economy of Climate Change Policy”

Abstract: Why do some countries do much to address long-term problems like climate change while others do little? This thesis offers a novel theoretical account of the political drivers of long-term climate policy investments across high-income democracies. It argues that political institutions and electoral incentives are key and systematically structure the ability of governments to adopt low-carbon policies that translate short-term costs into long-term benefits. It fills a large gap in the comparative politics literature, which has paid little attention to the looming problem of climate change.

Ph.D. Papers

Institutions, climate change, and the foundations of long-term policymaking 

(Available here)

Abstract: Many policy problems require taking costly action today for future benefits. Do institutions structure the ability of governments to address long-term challenges? Examining the case of climate change, this paper argues yes. It focuses on the way that two institutions – electoral rules and interest group intermediation – drive variation in climate policies across the high-income democracies by structuring the political conditions needed for them to occur. Proportional electoral rules increase electoral safety, allowing politicians to impose short-term costs on constituents. Institutionalized relationships between industry and the state enable governments to compensate losers, defusing organized opposition to policy change. Moreover, their joint presence generates powerful institutional complementarities that push countries onto distinct varieties of decarbonization. Tests using new data on shadow carbon prices provide empirical support for the arguments. This analysis is the first to provide comprehensive theoretical arguments that link institutions to the distributional politics of long-term climate change policymaking. By doing so it illuminates causal mechanisms that should structure policy responses to a more general set of long-term challenges.

Changing Prices in a Changing Climate: Electoral Competitiveness and Fossil Fuel Taxation 

(Available here)

Abstract: For over 40 years, economists have advocated carbon taxes as the most efficient policy for addressing climate change. However, not all governments have increased the price of fossil fuels. When do politicians decide to increase consumer prices? This paper highlights the role of electoral competitiveness. I argue that carbon tax increases are most likely when competitiveness is low and politicians are insulated from voter punishment. Moreover, this effect depends on the personal costs that tax increases impose on voters. If a good is not widely consumed, politicians can tax it more easily, even when competition is high. I test this explanation using a unique dataset on gasoline taxes and new data on electoral competitiveness across advanced democracies between 1978 and 2014. The results are consistent with the theory. In addition, a case study of eco-tax reform in Germany across two sequential electoral periods demonstrates how changes in the electoral fortunes of the Social Democratic-Green coalition generated changes in fossil fuel tax policy. This analysis points to a crucial mechanism that plausibly accounts for the differential ability of governments to tackle a wider range of long-term policy challenges.

Energy Politics over the Long Run: Gasoline Taxes in US States since 1919

Abstract: Addressing long-term policy challenges requires governments to look beyond the next election to promote societies’ long-run welfare. Which factors shape politicians’ time horizons? This chapter examines the effect of electoral competition in the case of one long-term policy: gasoline taxation in US states over the past nearly one hundred years. It builds on the two papers above, arguing that competition matters for long-term policymaking because it structures levels of electoral safety. Politicians should be more willing to look beyond the next election and adopt policies that translate short-term pain into long-term gain when they enjoy a wide lead over their rivals. To investigate the long-run dynamics of these arguments this paper makes use of new, original data on gas tax policy decisions going back to 1919. I find strong evidence of a negative relationship between levels of electoral competition and levels of taxation. Furthermore, underlying trends in competition matter. Increases in long-term average levels of competition have a larger influence on the tax rate than short-term fluctuations. Second, dynamic analysis using error correction models suggests that the negative effect of electoral competition lasts years into the future. Instrumental variable analysis using federal intervention in the US South as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act as a source of exogenous variation suggests that the relationship between electoral competition and gasoline taxation is causal.