Abstract: In theory, a country will impose tariff barriers to protect the domestic industries and firms that are less competitive relative to foreign imports. This study investigates whether Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA) is related to tariff protection in the three large North American economies. I find little evidence for the hypothesis that higher RCA values always correspond to lower tariff levels. The effects of RCA on tariffs are heterogeneous across sectors; consumer goods are likelier to see higher tariffs as RCA increases than agricultural or other goods. These results challenge the theory that export-competitive goods will necessarily receive less tariff protection.

Replication Data

Working Papers

"City Limits and Partisan Sorting." (Manuscript available by request)

Abstract: Does geographic variation in local governance drive partisan sorting in the United States? Prior research shows that voters do not tend to sort into communities based on partisan concerns alone; furthermore, Democrats and Republicans are often more attitudinally aligned on issues of local taxation than they are vis-à-vis federal and state taxes. Although these facts alone may imply that the U.S.'s partisan polarization is less severe at the local level, I argue that partisan sorting does occur along the borders of local political jurisdictions. Individuals with a low willingness to pay local taxes (who are typically Republican-leaning) can live just outside city limits, avoiding those taxes and potentially consuming spillovers in public goods. Using geospatial variation in electoral outcomes around city limits, I show that support for Democrats candidates in recent presidential elections was roughly 3 percentage points lower in areas just outside municipal boundaries. This effect holds in small cities as well as larger metropolitan areas and is particularly strong in places with higher influxes of daily commuters. This study is the first to use the universe of U.S. city limits to uncover sharp discontinuities in political outcomes, shedding light on the relationship between local political institutions, partisan geography, and the urban-rural divide in general. 

"Individual Donor Motivations and Out-of-District Contributions in House Elections." With Leah U. Stein and Sanford Gordon.

Preliminary Abstract: We investigate the increase over time in out-of-district congressional campaign contributions by individual donors relative to contributions in their home districts. After confirming secular trends in the relative incidence of these kinds of contributions, we demonstrate that the pattern holds for both small and large donors, but is considerably muted for the latter. Next, we quantify the extent to which these secular trends are driven by changes in the behavior of recurrent individual donors versus replacement of more locally-focused donors by more nationally-focused ones. Our analysis indicates that both mechanisms play roughly equivalent roles. Finally, we examine the extent to which shifts in the electoral security of a contributor’s member of Congress induce changes in national focus, and whether any such relationship has itself evolved over the past four decades; we recover only modest effects. The conjunction of our findings findings hints at adjustment by individual donors in response to changing macropolitical realities, and only secondarily to changes in donors’ local political environments.

Works in Progress