I use formal theory and empirical methods to research international politics, conflict, and political economy. My focus is on applying game theory and structural estimation methods to study models of war. My work features dynamic models, models of strategic information transmission, and games on networks.
Conflict Management and Peace Science, 2021
The preventive motive for war arises because states cannot commit to limit the use of their growing power. This commitment problem can lead to war when there are not enough resources available today to compensate the declining state for their expected losses. In this article, we show how capital markets affect preventive war incentives by introducing a profit-maximizing bond market to the canonical bargaining model of war. We find that the nature of the power shift and fundamentals of the market for debt interact to determine when a preventive motive is more likely to lead to war. Two main results show that (1) less probable but more extreme power shifts are most dangerous and (2) unlike the direct effect of interest rates on the cost of war, higher interest on sovereign debt makes war more likely. We present evidence for the latter effect by extending Lemke's (2003) study of preventive war for major-power dyads between 1816 and 1992.
Maintaining peace is costly. To understand what this implies about war outbreak and frequency, this article provides a dynamic crisis bargaining model where peace is costly and countries can take diplomatic action to compete over the bargaining surplus. Against conventional wisdom, repeated interactions of patient countries can destabilize peace. The likelihood of war relies on fundamentals of the international order, such as the persistence of war outcomes and peace agreements, as well as the severity of competition in diplomatic affairs. Even when countries prefer to cooperate, inadvertent wars are inevitable in the long run due to a coordination problem induced by costly peace. Diplomatic competition reduces the gains from peace and affects the probability of inadvertent war, but does not directly instigate attacks. The model offers new explanations for war, highlights the importance of institutional design in averting conflict, and sheds light on which international orders are most likely to fare well over time.
Empirical studies of vote-buying and clientelism emphasize the importance of social networks and local knowledge, but formal analyses of the candidates' problem have not examined these factors. Moreover, existing models typically abstract away from policy considerations. We model a candidate who may choose to employ vote-buying on a network of policy-motivated voters at the expense of a public good in order to improve their chances of election against a more popular programmatic opponent. In addition to voter and candidate preferences, we find an important role for social structure, office motivations, and the extent of inefficiencies in public good provision. In particular, it is possible to sustain equilibria in which no candidate will pursue vote-buying strategies even in the absence of constraining institutions or social norms.