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Open Access Policy Deposits

This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UCLA Department of Political Science researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Trusted authorities can change minds and shift norms during conflict.


The reintegration of former members of violent extremist groups is a pressing policy challenge. Governments and policymakers often have to change minds among reticent populations and shift perceived community norms in order to pave the way for peaceful reintegration. How can they do so on a mass scale? Previous research shows that messages from trusted authorities can be effective in creating attitude change and shifting perceptions of social norms. In this study, we test whether messages from religious leaders-trusted authorities in many communities worldwide-can change minds and shift norms around an issue related to conflict resolution: the reintegration of former members of violent extremist groups. Our study takes place in Maiduguri, Nigeria, the birthplace of the violent extremist group Boko Haram. Participants were randomly assigned to listen to either a placebo radio message or to a treatment message from a religious leader emphasizing the importance of forgiveness, announcing the leader's forgiveness of repentant fighters, and calling on followers to forgive. Participants were then asked about their attitudes, intended behaviors, and perceptions of social norms surrounding the reintegration of an ex-Boko Haram fighter. The religious leader message significantly increased support for reintegration and willingness to interact with the ex-fighter in social, political, and economic life (8 to 10 percentage points). It also shifted people's beliefs that others in their community were more supportive of reintegration (6 to 10 percentage points). Our findings suggest that trusted authorities such as religious leaders can be effective messengers for promoting peace.

Cover page of What Drives Successful Economic Diversification in Resource-Rich Countries?

What Drives Successful Economic Diversification in Resource-Rich Countries?


Abstract The “resource curse” is often understood to imply poor growth in the non-resource sectors of the economy, but research into the diversification performance of resource-rich countries is limited. This paper surveys recent evidence and identifies empirical patterns in the economic diversification of resource-rich countries. Diversification is measured using the growth of per capita non-resource (manufacturing and services) sectors in domestic and export markets, which has a cleaner interpretation than competing measures. This measure is used to evaluate the long-term diversification of countries that started off as resource-dependent, and to rank countries according to their performance. We then identify policy-relevant correlates of diversification at the national level, including the acquisition of human capital, public and intellectual capital, and firm dynamism. More resource-dependent countries appear to perform worse on measures of human capital and intellectual capital, but more resource-abundant countries perform better on public capital and human capital accumulation. We examine the mechanisms behind diversification performance through in-depth case studies of Oman, Laos, and Indonesia, and conclude by identifying policy lessons and future research directions.

Adoption of community monitoring improves common pool resource management across contexts.


Pervasive overuse and degradation of common pool resources (CPRs) is a global concern. To sustainably manage CPRs, effective governance institutions are essential. A large literature has developed to describe the institutional design features employed by communities that successfully manage their CPRs. Yet, these designs remain far from universally adopted. We focus on one prominent institutional design feature, community monitoring, and ask whether nongovernmental organizations or governments can facilitate its adoption and whether adoption of monitoring affects CPR use. To answer these questions, we implemented randomized controlled trials in six countries. The harmonized trials randomly assigned the introduction of community monitoring to 400 communities, with data collection in an additional 347 control communities. Most of the 400 communities adopted regular monitoring practices over the course of a year. In a meta-analysis of the experimental results from the six sites, we find that the community monitoring reduced CPR use and increased user satisfaction and knowledge by modest amounts. Our findings demonstrate that community monitoring can improve CPR management in disparate contexts, even when monitoring is externally initiated rather than homegrown. These findings provide guidance for the design of future programs and policies intended to develop monitoring capabilities in communities. Furthermore, our harmonized, multisite trial provides sustainability science with a new way to study the complexity of socioecological systems and builds generalizable insights about how to improve CPR management.

A Nation at War


A Nation at War, by David Yu, tells a story of the Crown Prince who finds himself with few loyal allies surrounded by his Uncle's forces. The Prince must decide how he must act, for the best interest of himself, the Kingdom, and/or his loyal retainers.

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Cover page of Elections and selfishness

Elections and selfishness


Elections affect the division of resources in society and are occasions for political elites to make appeals rooted in voters' self-interest. Hence, elections may erode altruistic norms and cause people to behave more selfishly. We test this intuition using Dictator Games in a lab-in-the-field experiment involving a sample of more than 1000 individuals in Kenya and Tanzania. We adopt two approaches. First, we experimentally prime participants to think about the upcoming or most recent elections and find that this priming treatment reduces how much money participants are willing to give to other players. Second, we compare results obtained across lab rounds in Kenya taking place right before the country's 2013 national elections and eight months prior, and find that selfishness is greater in the lab round more proximate to the election. Our results suggest that elections may affect social behavior in important—and previously unrecognized—ways.

Cover page of Do Commodity Price Shocks Cause Armed Conflict? A Meta-Analysis of Natural Experiments

Do Commodity Price Shocks Cause Armed Conflict? A Meta-Analysis of Natural Experiments


Scholars of the resource curse argue that reliance on primary commodities destabilizes governments: price fluctuations generate windfalls or periods of austerity that provoke or intensify civil conflict. Over 350 quantitative studies test this claim, but prominent results point in differentdirections, making it difficult to discern which results reliably hold across contexts. We conduct a meta-analysis of 46 natural experiments that use difference-in difference designs to estimate the causal effect of commodity price changes on armed civil conflict. We show that commodity pricechanges, on average, do not change the likelihood of conflict. However, there are cross-cutting effects by commodity type. In line with theory, we find price increases for labor-intensive agricultural commodities reduce conflict, while increases in the price of oil, a capital-intensive commodity, provoke conflict. We also find that price increases for lootable artisanal minerals provoke conflict. Our meta-analysis consolidates existing evidence, but also highlights opportunities for future research.

Cover page of Do Elections Improve Constituency Responsiveness? Evidence from US Cities.

Do Elections Improve Constituency Responsiveness? Evidence from US Cities.


Do elections motivate incumbent politicians to serve their voters? In this paper, we use millions of service requests placed by residents in US cities to measure constituency responsiveness. We then test whether an unusual policy change in New York City, which enabled city councilors to run for three rather than two terms in office, improved constituency responsiveness in previously term-limited councilors' districts. Using difference-in-differences, we find robust evidence for this. Taking advantage of differential timing of local election races in New York City and San Francisco, we also find late-term improvements to responsiveness in districts represented by reelection-seeking incumbents. Elections improve municipal services, but also create cycles in constituency responsiveness. These findings have implications for theories of representative democracy.