Research

Here I describe some of my current and past research projects. They can roughly be divided into these areas:

 

There is lots of overlap between these and there are some themes that are not easily shoehorned into categories, like my interests in social identity, common pool resource problems, and political geography. Methodologically, these areas are tied together by an emphasis on research designs that as best as possible facilitate causal inference.

 

Voting, political participation & attitudes 

Consortium on Electoral Democracy

I am one of the leads of the Consortium on Electoral Democracy (C-Dem), a multiyear project bringing together dozens of researchers, NGOs, election management bodies, policy makers, government agencies and industry partners in an effort to innovate on how we study electoral democracy. We are collecting large amounts of data in various forms during and between elections at all levels in Canada and we are funding the training over 100 students during the life of the project. 

Canadian Election Study

The Canadian Election Study (CES) is one of the longest running national election studies anywhere, having been in action since 1965. The 2019- CES continues this tradition while also adding new features such as a much larger sample size, allowing for the analysis of attitudes and vote choice of more subgroups in the population, for example young people, aboriginals, immigrants and the LGBTQ community. In contrast to previous studies, we are also collecting data regularly between elections.

Local Parliament Project

The aim of this project is to understand several important aspects of vote choice and participation, in particular, how local conditions affect election outcomes and individual choice in single member district political systems. The data collection includes one of the largest ever public opinion surveys in Canada (with about 40000 respondents) as well as detailed ethnographic research on local political campaigns. In addition, we are implementing a series of field experiments designed to better understand how (and if) legislators respond to public opinion and the policy preferences of their constituents. 

Maps (and pictures) in our heads

Much work has been done exploring how context (or place) affects the political attitudes people adopt and the political actions they take. Often the empirical strategy is to combine individual level survey data with administrative data from some level of geography. However, it is not obvious that any particular census unit is politically salient to people and even less obvious that people see these units similarly. As an alternative to the standard approach, this project implements a new way of measuring context at the individual level, by asking people directly to draw on maps. We included a map drawing exercise in a survey of roughly of 7000 Canadians, asking them to draw their "community" and we then study how these personally relevant descriptions of place and the perceptions of them affect people's political attitudes and behaviour. 

Papers from these projects and other voting/participation research

Eggers, Andrew, Daniel Rubenson and Peter Loewen. Forthcoming. "Who Votes More Strategically? Evidence From Canada," The Journal of Politics.

 

Loewen, Peter and Daniel Rubenson. Forthcoming. "War Deaths Can Increase Support for Incumbents," Canadian Journal of Political Science.

McAndrews, John, Jonah Goldberg, Peter Loewen, Daniel Rubenson and Benjamin Allen Stevens. Forthcoming "Non-Electoral Motivations to Represent Marginalized Groups in a Democracy: Evidence From an Unelected Legislature," Legislative Studies Quarterly.

 

Stephenson, Laura, Allison Harell, Daniel Rubenson and Peter Loewen. Forthcoming. ``Measuring Preferences and Behaviour in the 2019 Canadian Election Study,''  Canadian Journal of Political Science.

 

Loewen, Peter, Daniel Rubenson and John McAndrews. Forthcoming. "When do Politicians Pursue More Policy Information?" Journal of Experimental Political Science.

 

Wong, Cara, Jake Bowers, Daniel Rubenson, Mark Fredrickson and Ashlea Rundlett. 2020. "Maps in People's Heads as a New Measure for Context," Political Science Research and Methods, 8:1, 160-8.

Loewen, Peter, Daniel Rubenson and Maxime Héroux-Legault. 2019. "Choice and Duty: The Evolution of the Study of Voting and Voters,'" in Peter Loewen and Daniel Rubenson (Eds) Duty and Choice: Voter Turnout and Choice in the World's Electoral Systems, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

 

Loewen, Peter, Daniel Rubenson and André Blais. 2019. "The Future of Election Studies and the Study of Elections," in Peter Loewen and Daniel Rubenson (Eds) Duty and Choice: Voter Turnout and Choice in the World's Electoral Systems, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

 

Allen Stevens, Benjamin, Md Mujahedul Islam, Roosmarijn de Geus, Jonah Goldberg, John McAndrews, Alex Mierke-Zatwarnicki, Peter Loewen and Daniel Rubenson. 2018. "Local Candidate Effects in Canadian Elections,"  Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Blais, AndréPeter Loewen, Daniel Rubenson, Laura Stephenson and Elisabeth Gidengil. 2018. "Information on Party Strength and Strategic Voting: Evidence of Non-Effects From a Randomized Experiment," in John Aldrich, André Blais and Laura Stephenson (Eds) The Many Faces of Strategic Voting, University of Michigan Press.

Wong, Cara, Jake Bowers, Daniel Rubenson, Mark Fredrickson and Ashlea Rundlett. "Do You See What I See? Pseudoenvironments, Ethnic Diversity and Social Capital," working paper.

 

Blais, André and Daniel Rubenson. 2013. "The Source of Turnout Decline: New Values or New Contexts?Comparative Political Studies, 46(1), 95-117.

 

Dowding, KeithPeter John and Daniel Rubenson. 2012. "Geographic Mobility, Social Connections and Turnout," Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 22(2), 109-22.

 

Rubenson, Daniel, Andre Blais, Elisabeth Gidengil,  Neil Nevitte and Patrick Fournier. 2007. "Does Low Turnout Matter? Evidence from the 2000 Canadian General Election," Electoral Studies, 26(3), 589-97.

 

Rubenson, Daniel, Andre Blais, Patrick Fournier, Elisabeth Gidengil and Neil Nevitte. 2004. "Accounting for the Age Gap in Turnout," Acta Politica, 39(4), 407-21.

My research in this area mostly uses field experiments and other experimental research designs to study political economy and political behaviour questions related to persuasion. For example, in one paper, my coauthors and I study the effects of policy deliberation between candidates and voters on vote choice and turnout by randomly assigning deliberative townhall meetings in recent Filipino Congressional elections. In another study, we implement a field experimental design allowing us to untangle the effects of messages, messengers and endorsements on vote choice. I also have papers in this area exploring persuasion among political elites, applying new methods for pairwise comparisons and testing how different media can influence support for war. 

Papers on persuasion and political communication

López-Moctezuma, Gabriel, Leonard Wantchekon, Daniel Rubenson,  Thomas Fujiwara and Cecilia Pe Lero. Forthcoming. "Policy Deliberation and Voting Behavior: A Campaign Experiment in the Philippines," American Journal of Political Science.

Patty, John and Daniel Rubenson. "Sprezzatura," working paper.

Soroka, Stuart, Peter Loewen, Patrick Fournier and Daniel Rubenson. 2016. "The Impact of News Photos on Support for Military Action," Political Communication, 33(4), 563-84.

Dewan, Torun, Macartan Humphreys and Daniel Rubenson. 2014. "Elements of Political Persuasion: Content, Contact or Cue," The Economic Journal, 124(574), F257-92.

Loewen, Peter, Daniel Rubenson and Arthur Spirling. 2012. "Testing the Power of Arguments in Referendums: A Bradley-Terry Approach," Electoral Studies, 31(1), 212-21.

Rubenson, Daniel and Richard Walker.  "Interaction and Malefaction," working paper.

Loewen, Peter and Daniel Rubenson. 2011. "For Want of a Nail: Direct Mail and Negative Persuasion in a Leadership Campaign," Party Politics, 17(1), 45-65.

The economic, social & political effects of land rights

The Peri Urban Rangeland Project (PURP) is an ongoing study investigating the effects of granting exclusive use rights to large plots of grazing land among semi nomadic herders in peri urban areas in several Mongolian provinces. The research relies on a randomized field experiment in which land rights have been assigned to groups of herders via public lotteries. The basic aim of the project is to alleviate the consequences of a tragedy of the commons arising due to the status quo situation of rangeland being common use in Mongolia. Outcomes of interest include household income, rangeland & herd management practices, migration, animal health & productivity, rangeland quality & productivity as well as auxiliary outcomes such as interpersonal and political trust, prosocial behaviour (e.g. altruism & reciprocity) and political participation.

A second project, also in Mongolia, asks whether property and land rights lead to better access to credit and increased investments in one’s land.The widely held assumption is they do, but there is little evidence to support this assumption. In Mongolia, many recent migrants to urban areas lack property rights. We are evaluating the impact of two versions of a program that provides direct assistance to households seeking to privatize and register land plots. We measure the programs' impact on the migrants' access to credit, investment in land and housing, property values, labor market outcomes and household income.

Metaketa III: Natural Resource Governance

The EGAP Metaketa initiative is a new way of generating cumulative knowledge by harmonizing field experiments across locations. The idea is to create incentives for innovative research on topics where academics and policy practitioners share substantive interests.    

I have led the coordination of one of the Metaketa rounds—on natural resource governance—together with Tara Slough. Renewable resources are often subject to regulations that affect their use, and that involve representatives of local communities in monitoring their use. The Natural Resource Governance Metaketa round seeks to know whether augmenting the roles, responsibilities, and resources of community-based monitors reduces the quantity of renewable resources that are used and how this affects the welfare of users in the affected communities.

This Metaketa round was launched in Spring 2016 and concluded in Spring 2020. The round awarded six projects—one each in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Liberia, Peru, and Uganda—ranging in funding from $150,000 to $250,000 provided by the UK’s Department for International Development. All of the projects use common informational interventions focused on scrutinizing local resource management authorities and providing information to administrators and users in order to curb the overuse of the forest or water common pool resource. In addition, each project involves at least one complementary intervention.

The returns to vocational training

Does admission to a Vocational and Technical Education Training (TVET) school increase the wages and employability of the poor? This study evaluates the admission to TVET schools in Mongolia on both academic and labor-market outcomes. We hypothesize that being admitted to a TVET school will cause students to have better labor market outcomes. We hypothesize that admission to TVET schools will increase their factual understanding of trades and familiarize the students with the tools actually used by employers. Employers should then find students more productive than they otherwise would, making it more likely that students will be able to find employment and increasing the wages that employers are willing to pay them. To identify these effects, we worked with a select set of TVET schools in Mongolia to conduct admissions lotteries in three admission years, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Baseline data was collected at time of admission application and follow-up data is now being analyzed to assess the impact of TVET admission on labor market outcomes.

Political economy of development papers

Slough, Tara, Daniel Rubenson, Ro'ee Levy, and sixteen others. "Adoption of Community Monitoring Improves Common Pool Resource Management Across Contexts." Forthcoming. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

López-Moctezuma, Gabriel, Leonard Wantchekon, Daniel Rubenson,  Thomas Fujiwara and Cecilia Pe Lero. Forthcoming. "Policy Deliberation and Voting Behavior: A Campaign Experiment in the Philippines," American Journal of Political Science.

Field, Erica, Leigh Linden, Ofer Malamud, Daniel Rubenson and Shing-Yi Wang. 2019. "Does Vocational Education Work? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Mongolia," NBER Working Paper No. 26092.

Rubenson, Daniel, Tara Slough, and twenty-one others. 2019. "Metaketa III: Natural Resource Governance Pre-meta-analysis Plan.

Rubenson, Daniel and Peter Loewen. "Property Rights and Trust," working paper.

Rubenson, Daniel and Peter Loewen. "Exogenous Institutional Variation and Sudden Changes in Social Preferences: Evidence From a Property Rights Field Experiment," working paper.

De La O, Ana and Daniel Rubenson. 2010. "Strategies for Dealing with Nonoverlapping Units of Assignment and Outcome Measurement in Field Experiments," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 628(1), 189-99.

 

Loewen, Peter, Daniel Rubenson and Leonard Wantchekon. 2010. "Help Me Help You: Conducting Field Experiments with Political Elites," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 628(1), 165-75.

Together with Chris Dawes, I have a number of ongoing studies using data from sporting events and from sports fans to test various social science theories we're interested in. In an ongoing collaboration with the football live score app Forza Football we have run a series of large scale field experiments exploring the effects of group identity on voting and turnout. In one experiment we randomly vary the salience of either club or national identity and test the effects on voting for the best player in the world among close half a million football supporters. In two other large field experiments with Forza we study how sports identity can mobilize voters in the 2019 EU Parliament elections and the 2020 US general elections. We have also collaborated with the Forza and Kick it Out on measuring racism and prejudice in football and with Forza  and Common Goal on evaluating supporters' views on footballers' social and political activism. 

Sports & society papers

Dawes, Christopher and Daniel Rubenson. "For Club or Country: Testing the Influence of Social Identity," working paper. 

Dawes, Christopher, Daniel Rubenson, Sven Oskarsson, Pär Nyman. "Pre Analysis Plan: Using Club Identity To Mobilize Voters in the 2019 EU Election." 

  

Dawes, Christopher, Daniel Rubenson and Nick Obradovich. "Marathon Performance and Political Participation," working paper.

People

C-Dem Executive committee: Laura Stephenson, Allison Harell, Daniel Rubenson, Peter Loewen

CES Principal investigators: Laura Stephenson, Allison Harell, Daniel Rubenson, Peter Loewen

LPP Principal investigators: Peter Loewen, Daniel Rubenson

Maps in Our Heads Principal investigators: Daniel Rubenson, Cara Wong, Jake Bowers

Other collaborators: Andy Eggers, André Blais, Alex Mierke-Zatwarnicki, Ashlea Rundlett, Benjamin Allen Stevens, Elisabeth Gidengil, John McAndrews, Jonah Goldberg, Keith Dowding, Mark Fredrickson, Maxime Héroux-Legault, Md Mujahedul Islam, Neil Nevitte, Patrick Fournier, Peter John, Royce Koop, Roosmarijn de Geus   

Funding

SSHRC Partnership Grant; SSHRC Insight Grant (x2); SSHRC Insight Development Grant

People

Funding

Bobst Center, Princeton, Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, McGill, Columbia-LSE Research Fund

People

Ana De La O, Cecilia Lero, Erica Field, Gabriel Lopez-Moctezuma, Leigh Linden, Leonard Wantchekon, Ofer Malamud, Peter Loewen, Ro'ee Levy, Tara Slough, Thomas Fujiwara, Shing-Yi Wang

Funding

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), UK Department for International Development (DFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Crafoord Foundation

 

Persuasion & political communication

Political economy of development

 

Sports & society

 

© 2021 by Daniel Rubenson