Research and Publications - Department of Political Science

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    Elite rhetoric can undermine democratic norms
    (National Academy of the Sciences, 2021) Clayton, Katherine; Davis, Nicholas T.; Nyhan, Brendan; Porter, Ethan; Ryan, Timothy J.; Wood, Thomas J.; Stanford University; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Dartmouth College; George Washington University; University of North Carolina; University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Ohio State University
    Democratic stability depends on citizens on the losing side accepting election outcomes. Can rhetoric by political leaders undermine this norm? Using a panel survey experiment, we evaluate the effects of exposure to multiple statements from former president Donald Trump attacking the legitimacy of the 2020 US presidential election. Although exposure to these statements does not measurably affect general support for political violence or belief in democracy, it erodes trust and confidence in elections and increases belief that the election is rigged among people who approve of Trump's job performance. These results suggest that rhetoric from political elites can undermine respect for critical democratic norms among their supporters.
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    Racial/Ethnic disparities in drug use during the COVID 19 pandemic: Moderating effects of non-profit substance use disorder service expenditures
    (PLOS, 2022) Ji, Hyunjung; Shin, Su Hyun; Rogers, Annah; Neese, Jessica; Lee, Hee Yun; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Utah
    The COVID-19 pandemic influenced individuals' anxiety and depression across the United States over a short period, and some Americans relied on drugs for coping. This study examines American adults' drug use trajectories in response to changing anxiety and depression levels during the COVID-19 pandemic and the moderating role of substance use disorder (SUD) services provided by non-profit facilities in anxiety/depression-induced drug use. Heterogeneity in such relationships is further explored based on race/ethnicity. This study used a nationally representative sample of 1,176 American adults who reported drug use between May 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Using individual-fixed effects Poisson estimators, the current study empirically modeled drug use changes according to changing anxiety/depression levels. Interaction terms between anxiety/depression levels and per capita spending by non-profit SUD facilities were used to explore the moderating effect of SUD service expenditures. Racial/ethnic disparities were explored in subgroup analyses on non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic Asian samples. We found more frequent drug use in response to elevated anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater spending on SUD service by non-profit facilities at the county level was associated with reduced drug consumption associated with anxiety and depression, with greater benefits for racial/ethnic minorities. Findings provide important policy implications for distributing public funds for non-profit SUD facilities for mitigating SUD risks, especially among racial/ethnic minorities.
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    The Changing Nonlinear Relationship between Income and Terrorism
    (Sage, 2016) Enders, Walter; Hoover, Gary A.; Sandler, Todd; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Texas Dallas
    This article reinvestigates the relationship between real per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and terrorism. We devise a terrorism Lorenz curve to show that domestic and transnational terrorist attacks are each more concentrated in middle-income countries, thereby suggesting a nonlinear income-terrorism relationship. Moreover, this point of concentration shifted to lower income countries after the rising influence of the religious fundamentalist and nationalist/separatist terrorists in the early 1990s. For transnational terrorist attacks, this shift characterized not only the attack venue but also the perpetrators' nationality. The article then uses nonlinear smooth transition regressions to establish the relationship between real per capita GDP and terrorism for eight alternative terrorism samples, accounting for venue, perpetrators' nationality, terrorism type, and the period. Our nonlinear estimates are shown to be favored over estimates using linear or quadratic income determinants of terrorism. These nonlinear estimates are robust to additional controls.
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    Information about historical emissions drives the division of climate change mitigation costs
    (Nature Portfolio, 2023) Del Ponte, Alessandro; Masiliunas, Aidas; Lim, Noah; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Sheffield; National University of Singapore
    Despite worsening climate change, the international community still disagrees on how to divide the costs of mitigation between developing countries and developed countries, which emitted the bulk of historical carbon emissions. We study this issue using an economic experiment. Specifically, we test how information about historical emissions influences how much participants pay for climate change mitigation. In a four-player game, participants are assigned to lead two fictional countries as members of either the first or the second generation. The first generation produces wealth at the expense of greater carbon emissions. The second generation inherits their predecessor's wealth and negotiates how to split the climate change mitigation costs. Here we show that when the second generation knows that the previous generation created the current wealth and mitigation costs, participants whose predecessor generated more carbon emissions offered to pay more, whereas the successors of low-carbon emitters offered to pay less. Who pays for climate change mitigation is an ongoing source of conflict. Here the authors examine how historical carbon emissions influences how much people will pay for climate change mitigation via an economic experiment.
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    Politics in the Time of COVID
    (Palgrave Macmilliam, 2021) Fishel, Stefanie R.; Fletcher, Andrew; Krishna, Sankaran; McKnight, Utz; du Plessis, Gitte; Shomura, Chad; Valdes, Alicia; Voelkner, Nadine; University of the Sunshine Coast; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; University of Hawaii Manoa; University of Colorado Boulder; Universitat Rovira i Virgili; University of Groningen
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    SARSCOV-19 amidst corruption: Does the civil society matter? - An empirical study
    (Wiley, 2023) Arkorful, Vincent Ekow; Lugu, Benjamin Kweku; Charway, Susana Mamley; Arkorful, Vincent Ansah; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; Kwame Nkrumah University Science & Technology
    The pandemic outbreak has dealt consequences on global engagements and structures. With the ongoing search for pandemic-mitigating measures and the excesses (notably corruption) erupted in its wake, concerns have been raised about the decline in public trust, transparency and satisfaction - particularly in Ghana. This situation has spurred multilevel governance discussions regarding pandemic management. Ensuingly characterising policy makers' propositions in this regard is the civil society's salience as a control valve to governance deficits like corruption. Therefore, transcending the anecdotal claims on civil society's efficacy, this study takes a state-society perspective to probe its relevance in fostering trust, transparency and satisfaction, relative to corruption-stricken pandemic governance. The current study engages the general systems theory as a conceptual lens. The structural equation modelling technique was used in analysing data (n = 519) gathered through the questionnaire survey approach. Though results of data analysis affirmed the negative effects of corruption on trust, transparency and satisfaction, the civil society received affirmation as an enhancer of trust, transparency and satisfaction. In view of these study findings, implications and future research suggestions are delimited.
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    How democracies prevail: democratic resilience as a two-stage process
    (Routledge, 2021) Boese, Vanessa A.; Edgell, Amanda B.; Hellmeier, Sebastian; Maerz, Seraphine F.; Lindberg, Staffan, I; University of Gothenburg; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This article introduces a novel conceptualization of democratic resilience - a two-stage process where democracies avoid democratic declines altogether or avert democratic breakdown given that such autocratization is ongoing. Drawing on the Episodes of Regime Transformation (ERT) dataset, we find that democracies have had a high level of resilience to onset of autocratization since 1900. Nevertheless, democratic resilience has become substantially weaker since the end of the Cold War. Fifty-nine episodes of sustained and substantial declines in democratic practices have occurred since 1993, leading to the unprecedented breakdown of 36 democratic regimes. Ominously, we find that once autocratization begins, only one in five democracies manage to avert breakdown. We also analyse which factors are associated with each stage of democratic resilience. The results suggest that democracies are more resilient when strong judicial constraints on the executive are present and democratic institutions were strong in the past. Conversely and adding nuance to the literature, economic development is only associated with resilience to onset of autocratization, not to resilience against breakdown once autocratization has begun.
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    An annual cost of living index for the American states, 1960-1995
    (University of Texas Press, 2000) Berry, WD; Fording, RC; Hanson, RL; State University System of Florida; Florida State University; University of Kentucky; Indiana University System; Indiana University Bloomington; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    An enormous amount of research on state politics and policy relies on monetary variables. Such variables are affected by differences in the purchasing power of a dollar over time and across states, but a lack of information about geographic variation in the costs of goods and services has kept social scientists from taking these differences into account. We remove this obstacle by constructing an annual cost of living index for each continental American state from 1960 to 1995. The index constitutes a deflator suitable for cross-sectional, time-series, and pooled research. After establishing the reliability and validity of our index using a battery of diagnostic tests, we illustrate the importance of deflating monetary variables by examining two variables that are often used in state politics research.
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    Reassessing the "Race to the bottom" in state welfare policy
    (Blackwell, 2003) Berry, WD; Fording, RC; Hanson, RL; State University System of Florida; Florida State University; University of Kentucky; Indiana University System; Indiana University Bloomington; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    On the assumption that poor people migrate to obtain better welfare benefits, the magnet hypothesi. predicts that a state's poverty rate increases when its welfare benefit rises faster than benefits in surrounding states. The benefit competition hypothesis proposes that states lower welfare benefits to avoid attracting the poor from neighboring states. Previous investigations, which yield support for these propositions. suffer from weaknesses in model specification and methodology. We correct these deficiencies in a simultaneous equation model including a state's poverty rate and its benefit level for AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) as endogenous variables. We estimate the model using pooled annual data for the American states from 1960 to 1990 and find that a state's poverty rate does not jump significantly when its welfare payments outpace benefits in neighboring states. Further-more, there is no evidence of vigorous benefit competition among states states respond to decreases in neighboring states' welfare benefits with only small adjustments in their own.
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    Politics and state punitiveness in black and white
    (University of Chicago Press, 2005) Yates, J; Fording, R; University System of Georgia; University of Georgia; University of Kentucky; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Recent findings from the literature on imprisonment policy suggest that in addition to traditional social and economic variables, imprisonment rates are also strongly related to changes in the state political environment. In this study, we extend this literature by testing a theory of state punitiveness which posits that (1) the political environment of states influences the degree to which they incarcerate their citizens, and (2) the political determinants of state punitiveness may be conditional upon the racial subpopulation being incarcerated. Our results suggest that increases in state political conservatism in recent decades have contributed to increases in both the growth in black imprisonment rates and black imprisonment disparity (relative to whites), but that these effects are, to a degree, tempered by countervailing political conditions.
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    Devolution, discretion, and the effect of local political values on TANF sanctioning
    (University of Chicago Press, 2007) Fording, Richard C.; Soss, Joe; Schram, Sanford F.; University of Kentucky; University of Wisconsin System; University of Wisconsin Madison; Bryn Mawr College; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    One of welfare reform's most significant consequences is the devolution of policy-making authority from the federal government and states to local governments and frontline workers. What is perhaps less often appreciated is that devolution of authority to state governments has been accompanied by a significant decentralization of policy-making authority within states. As a result, prior research has not given sufficient attention to local political context as a factor shaping program implementation. This article examines the effect of local political values on the use of sanctions to penalize welfare recipients. Analyzing administrative data from the Florida Department of Children and Families for over 60,000 welfare clients, we find that there is a statistically significant amount of local variation in sanctioning rates across the state of Florida, even after controlling welfare clients' characteristics. Local sanctioning patterns are systematically related to selected characteristics of local communities, including their ideological orientations.
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    Race and the Local Politics of Punishment in the New World of Welfare
    (University of Chicago Press, 2011) Fording, Richard C.; Soss, Joe; Schram, Sanford F.; University of Kentucky; University of Minnesota System; University of Minnesota Twin Cities; Bryn Mawr College; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    To illuminate how race affects the usage of punitive tools in policy implementation settings, we analyze sanctions imposed for noncompliant client behavior under welfare reform. Drawing on a model of racial classification and policy choice, we test four hypotheses regarding client race, local context, and sanctioning. Based on longitudinal and cross-sectional multilevel analyses of individual-level administrative data, we find that race plays a significant role in shaping sanction implementation. Its effects, however, are highly contingent on client characteristics, local political contexts, and the degree to which state governments devolve policy control to local officials.
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    Do Welfare Sanctions Help or Hurt the Poor? Estimating the Causal Effect of Sanctioning on Client Earnings
    (University of Chicago Press, 2013) Fording, Richard C.; Schram, Sanford F.; Soss, Joe; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa; City University of New York (CUNY) System; Hunter College (CUNY); University of Minnesota System; University of Minnesota Twin Cities
    This article examines the effect of financial sanctions for noncompliance on the earnings of TANF clients. Current research on TANF sanctioning is descriptive, and few studies estimate the effect of sanctions on client outcomes. To estimate the causal effect of sanctioning, we utilize longitudinal data from Florida and a difference-in-difference propensity-score matching estimator. We compare the growth in earnings of sanctioned clients to a comparable sample of nonsanctioned clients four quarters after exiting TANF and find that sanctioning has a statistically significant negative effect on earnings among TANF clients. The effect is consistent across racial groups, larger among clients with at least 12 years of schooling, and generally increases with the frequency of sanctioning. The finding that sanctioned clients exhibit significantly lower growth in earnings than similar nonsanctioned clients suggests that sanctioning may serve to undermine TANF''s goals of reducing welfare use and improving earnings in severely disadvantaged families.
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    The Affordable Care Act and the Diffusion of Policy Feedback: The Case of Medicaid Work Requirements
    (Russell Sage Foundation, 2020) Fording, Richard C.; Patton, Dana; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Over the last five years, many states have sought to limit access to Medicaid by adopting restrictive policies. How can we reconcile this development with studies that imply that Medicaid should be insulated from policy backlash? The answer lies in understanding the policy feedback effects that accompanied Medicaid expansion and how these effects created electoral pressure that led to policy modification. We situate our expectations within a policy diffusion framework that accounts for variation in both the content and timing of policy adoptions across states. We develop and test several hypotheses using survey data and an original dataset on gubernatorial support for Medicaid work requirements. Our hypotheses are generally supported and provide a more nuanced understanding of the policy feedback effects following Medicaid expansion.