Peer-Reviewed Publications

ABSTRACT: National identity remains one of the most potent forces in global politics, yet surprisingly little is known about processes of national identity formation and change. This paper argues that national identity preferences are susceptible to fluctuations in group status but constrained by conflict experience. Exploiting the unique political context in Northern Ireland, we use a diff-in-diff model to estimate national identity preferences before and after the EU referendum. The results show that around 20% of Protestants who did not experience conflict shifted from British towards Irish identity after the referendum. However, for those who experienced violent inter-group conflict, there is a `permanent distance’ between groups which fixes identities irrespective of changes in status. The results have important implications for our understanding of national identity, particularly in post-conflict societies.

ABSTRACT: How do group characteristics differentially moderate attitudes towards refugees on humanitarian, sociocultural, and economic issues? Building on recent research on group empathy and perspective-taking, we argue that oppressed minority groups will display more positive attitudes towards refugees than dominant majority groups due to empathy triggered by a shared experience of oppression. However, there are economic limits of empathy. Specifically, the empathetic response will not extend to attitudes regarding the economic impact of refugees due to the perceived zero-sum nature of economic competition. Analysis of granular data in Turkey supports the argument, with Kurds (i.e. oppressed group) displaying more positive attitudes on sociocultural and humanitarian issues but not economic. The generalisability of this argument is underscored by a similar analysis of European Social Survey data from 37 countries. The results highlight the importance of group characteristics in understanding attitudes towards refugees, particularly how views vary across groups and topics.

ABSTRACT: In recent years a record number of people have been forcibly displaced or migrated due to conflict. Whilst established political science research suggests that displaced communities are an added risk factor for conflict due to their support for extreme co-ethnic political parties and movements, this has been challenged by recent research which shows that migrants can be a moderating force. We offer a potential reconciliation of these divergent findings by distinguishing between first- and second-generation migrants. Due to their relative lack of conflict exposure, second-generation migrants will have significantly less support for co-ethnic political parties than first-generation migrants and those who remain. We test our argument using granular survey data comparing Kurds who migrated out of the conflict zone in Turkey with those who remained. The results support our theoretical framework and have important implications for our understanding of migrant attitudes and the long term effects of conflict exposure.

ABSTRACT: Is terrorism effective as a tool of political influence? In particular, do terrorists succeed in affecting their targets’ attitudes, and how long does the effect last? Existing work unfortunately does not address two main difficulties: issues of endogeneity, and the inability to assess the duration of the effect. Here, we first exploit the exogeneity to the selection process of the success or failure of an attack as an identification mechanism. Second, we take advantage of the random allocation of survey respondents to interview times to estimate the duration of the impact of terrorist events on attitudes. Using survey data from thirty European democracies between 2002 and 2017, we find that while terrorism affects people’s reported life satisfaction and happiness, it does not affect their attitude towards their government, institutions, or immigrants. This suggests that terrorism is ineffective at translating discontent into political pressure. Importantly, we also find that all effects disappear within less than two weeks.

ABSTRACT: Are the causes of refugee and IDPs flows the same? While existing studies examine the causes of displacement in general, there is limited research on varying determinants of internal and external displacement. The same factors may impact the decision to move within the country and flee abroad in disparate ways. Here, I argue the effect of violence on displacement as a function of perpetrator and geography (i.e., how spread it is). Increases in government violence increase the number of refugees because to escape government violence, people may have to cross an international border as governments are generally effective everywhere within its borders. On the other hand, rebel group activities are limited to a certain area and by leaving the conflict zone, civilians can be free from rebel violence. However, the spread of violence determines the decision to flee. If it is limited to a small region, people can escape from that area within the country and rebel violence increases the number of IDPs. If it is widespread, civilians may not have many opportunities within the country and have to move abroad. Therefore, the effect of rebel violence on internal displacement follows a reverse U-shape. The analysis of refugee and IDPs flows between 1989 and 2017 supports the main arguments and results are robust to different model specifications and additional checks. This study highlights the importance of distinguishing the causes of internal and external displacement.

ABSTRACT: Why do some countries host more refugees than others? Previous research has focused on the role of geographical, political, and economic determinants, and little attention has been paid to civil conflict dynamics. In this article, I examine how a host country’s support for rebel groups may affect the number of refugees that they accommodate. Countries that support rebels host a higher number of refugees than others, as accommodating refugees can be the continuation of that support and help rebel groups in their armed struggle. By hosting people, countries may offer a sanctuary from which rebels can operate some of their insurgent activities. Rebel groups can exploit these camps for recruitment, training, and benefiting from the main services such as health care. In addition, when rebels operate in host countries, these countries may monitor, impact, or even direct the strategies of insurgent groups. Analysis of refugee flows between 1968 and 2011 suggests that countries which support rebel groups host twice as many refugees than others. Results are robust to various model specifications, two different sources for the main explanatory variable, matching analysis, and additional checks. Findings of this article highlight the importance of conflict dynamics in explaining the variation in refugee flows.

ABSTRACT: Civil wars greatly vary in the number of refugees they generate, ranging from zero to over six millions in a given conflict. Work on this variation has largely focused on “push” factors – deleterious attributes of the home country that lead to refugee flows, such as violence and repression. Yet, few have studied the importance of “pull” factors – attractive features of the potential host countries. Here we show in particular the importance of the expected quality of life in possible destinations. Using data on civil wars from 1951 to 2008, we find that the proximity of democratic and wealthy potential hosts accounts for much of the variation in the number of refugees. Out-of-sample validation methods show that these “pull” factors account for nearly as much predictive power as all the main variables previously identified in the literature combined.

Working Papers

ABSTRACT: Existing studies examining attitudes toward refugees have generally focused on sociotropic economic, cultural, and humanitarian concerns as the main determinants. This study contributes to the literature by analyzing the effect of transnational ethnic relations and security concerns through a conjoint experiment in Turkey. The results suggest that when there are ethnic tensions in the host country, natives from the majority dominant group have more negative attitudes toward refugees from the minority ethnic group compared to those without any ethnic relations. Security concerns and existing negative intergroup relations are two possible explanations for this effect, and further analysis points to negative intergroup relations as the main mechanism. Additionally, refugees coming from areas controlled by insurgents that have ties to rebels in the host country are less favored than others. This study contributes to understanding the externalities of refugee inflows on the host countries.

ABSTRACT: How do heterogeneous patterns of violence affect people’s decision to flee? We provide individual-level evidence on flight decision-making in light of violence with a conjoint experiment in Turkey. The results suggest that intense indiscriminate violence nearby forces individuals into the decision to leave. In contrast to previous studies, we find that the fear for repeated violence plays a more important role in flight decision-making than the attack frequency. The survey experiment reveals that violence committed by the government makes a decision to flee abroad more likely than rebel violence. We find that individuals with support networks abroad are less responsive to patterns of violence, making flight decisions more independently and being generally more inclined to move. Our findings contribute to the growing literature on forced migration with individual-level evidence on the decision-making process underlying flight reactions to violence.

ABSTRACT: Recent years have seen a stark increase in the number of refugees and scholars have paid attention to the determinants of attitudes toward refugees. Most existing research has analyzed what factors affect natives’ opinions on accepting refugees to the country. However, our understanding of preferences for refugee settlement (e.g., refugees living in camps or spreading across the country) is limited. It is critical to examine whether natives prefer refugees to live in closed camps at the border or spread across the country as this has implications for refugees’ integration as well as the host country’s social dynamics. Focusing on host countries experiencing civil conflict and political tension, this study emphasizes the role of security concerns and suggests that depending on refugees’ relationship to the minority group and insurgency in the destination, preferences for refugee settlement vary. It analyzes factors that affect natives’ opinions on refugee settlement through a conjoint experiment in Turkey. The results highlight the importance of security concerns. Additionally, the analysis reveals that preferences for refugee settlement are quite stable and refugee attributes have limited impact. Further examinations suggest that while those who have pro-refugee attitudes prefer refugees spreading across the country, those who have negative attitudes prefer refugees in border camps. This study contributes to the literature by underscoring the role of security concerns and highlighting the stability of attitudes toward refugee settlement.

ABSTRACT: What effect does extended intergroup contact between ethnic groups in a post-conflict society have on intergroup attitudes? Exploiting the opportunity provided by the unique structure of Northern Ireland’s education system and availability of rich representative survey data, we examine the effect of extended intergroup contact between Catholics and Protestants. The results indicate that extended contact has a large, significant, and durable effect on social attitudes, and that these effects endure many years after contact. However, echoing recent papers which are more circumspect about the effects of intergroup contact, we find no effect on prejudice, or political and personal attitudes. We propose that these effects are likely driven by the often superficial nature of friendships and interactions between groups in divided societies, which is likely to reduce anxiety of social interaction with the outgroup but do not affect attitudes that are deeply shaped and embedded through socialization, family, and the wider societal and political context.

ABSTRACT: Does perceived discrimination and hostility promote or hinder support for democracy among immigrants? While many studies investigate the drivers of prejudice and discrimination towards immigrants, relatively less is known about the effect of discrimination on immigrants’ political attitudes. In this paper, we argue that perceived discrimination is associated with higher levels of support for democracy among immigrants. We test our predictions using data from the EURISLAM survey, which includes data from immigrants from Muslim-majority countries residing in four European countries. We find that in particular, perceived discrimination toward the ethnic or religious in-group is associated with increased support for democracy. These results are robust to alternative control variables, model specification, matching procedures, and coefficient stability analysis. At a time when discrimination towards immigrants is on the rise, these results make an important contribution to understanding the implications of discriminatory experiences for migrants.

ABSTRACT: Existing research has focused mainly on the determinants of successful peace negotiations or the impact peace agreements have on post-conflict stability. However, peace processes are significant events with important political consequences irrespective of their outcome. This paper argues that peace talks increase public support for the political wings of rebel groups through legitimization by direct high-profile government engagement and changing media coverage. To test this argument, we examine the successful resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland and failed peace talks in Turkey. Using a combination of granular survey data, election results, and process tracing of key events, we show that peace talks significantly increase support for the political wings of rebel groups in both countries, even after the failure of peace talks. The paper opens up an important new research agenda in civil conflict highlighting the strategic and political significance of peace talks irrespective of their outcome.

Work in Progress