Quick Updates

Whoa! Hey! Six months can go by pretty quick when you’re buried in schoolwork. I’ve been neglecting this blog something fierce, but will be back on a regular posting schedule tout-suite now that my second field paper is in. For now, a quick series of bullets, bang-bang-bang:

Protest Propensity in Africa, 1990-2010

How likely is protest after a 1 std. dev. food price shock?

  • The food security/protest in Africa field paper passed, so it’s on to the dissertation prospectus… which will also be about food security. Probably.
  • I presented the above paper at MPSA in Chicago a few weeks ago, in poster format. You can download a copy working paper from the conference website here.
  • The poorer/less democratic the country, the more vulnerable it is to protest when food prices rise. That’s not very surprising. What is kind of surprising is the marginal increase in effect: about 400% from the most democratic countries to the least, and 300% from the richest countries to the poorest.
  • The major outlier on the heat map above is South Africa, which is both wealthy and democratic by African standards. I think this may have something to do with the legacy of Apartheid on protest in that country.
  • I’m currently cleaning the draft up for submission/publication. I’m not 100% happy with the statistics yet.
  • For my next trick, I have some interesting results lined up connecting international food price volatility to leadership transitions in Africa. The upshot is that only autocracies seem to be vulnerable. More on that soon.
  • My advisor, Michael Ross, has a new book out on The Oil Curse. It’s way good, and the implications therein are troubling. Save money (and trees), read on Kindle!
  • The world has moved on since I posted on Msrs. Breivik and Putin. Breivik’s on trial in Oslo trying to prove that he’s not insane so his political point will stick. Two teams of Norwegian shrinks split the vote on that one, but his rationality was never a question for me. Putin, meanwhile, has been subject to protests in an increasingly restive Russia, which I did not forsee.