Working Papers/In-progress

Abstract:  Why do states intervene in the provision of education? A rich literature across the social sciences has convincingly argued that states provide education because they see it as an effective instrument to shape public attitudes. However, states do not operate in a vacuum: other powerful actors can also recognize the potential of education for strengthening their influence and seek to participate in its provision. In this paper, I examine how constrained central authorities can use the provision of schools to undermine non-state education providers that pose a threat to the state's legitimacy and administrative capacity. Using a population RDD and a fine-grained dataset on the presence of schools digitized from the Archives Nationales, I show that central authorities promoted the creation of secular schools selectively in order to crowd out religious ones during the Second French Empire (1852-1870). This finding underscores the importance of taking into account the strategic interaction between states and non-state education providers when explaining states' decision to participate in the provision of education and other public services.

Abstract:  Despite rich scholarship on the causes of suffrage expansion, there remains a limited understanding of how the extension of voting rights impacts political development. By examining the canonical case of 19th-century France, we argue that the expansion of suffrage politicizes the public and enhances their capacity for mobilization. Exploiting the 1831 municipal election law, which introduced changes to suffrage allocation based on discrete population cutoffs, we find that a higher degree of suffrage facilitated, further down the line, the emergence of a politically more engaged public characterized by heightened interest in public affairs, resistance to authoritarianism, and an increased potential for collective action. Wider political inclusion, even within the context of an authoritarian regime, appears to foster the growth of a public with more “pro-democratic” dispositions.

Abstract:  Can media be employed to deter political opponents? Existing empirical research has shown that leaders can use media to mobilize their supporters, but we know far less about whether they can also use it to deter political opponents from doing so. This paper investigates this issue in a context of civil war, where discouraging support for the opposing force is particularly crucial. Specifically, I examine how a radio station captured by the Nationalist Army during the Spanish Civil War was used to demobilize Republican militias and their supporters. Using a fine-grained measure of radio signal strength, I show that access to the broadcasts reduced the number of irregular killings perpetrated by both sides. The effect was particularly strong in less physically accessible municipalities, where radio was likely the only available source of information. I argue that radio contributed to demobilize Republican militias, which in turn reduced both Republican violence and subsequent Nationalist repression.