Charnysh, V, E. Finkel, and S. Gehlbach. (Forthcoming) "Historical Political Economy: Past, Present, and Future." Annual Review of Political Science 26. Show abstract
A recent wave of research in political science examines the past using statistical methods for causal inference and formal theory---a field widely known as historical political economy (HPE). We examine the development of this field. Our survey reveals three common uses of history in HPE: understanding the past for its own sake, using the past to understand the present, and using history as a setting to explore theoretical conjectures. We present important work in each area and discuss tradeoffs of each approach. We further identify key practical and analytical challenges for scholars of HPE, including the accessibility of data that do exist and obstacles to inference when they do not. Looking to the future, we see improved training for scholars entering the field, a heightened focus on the accumulation of knowledge, and greater attention to underexplored topics such as race, gender, ethnicity, and climate change.
Charnysh, V. 2022. "Explaining out-group bias in weak states: Religion and legibility in the 1891/92 Russian famine." World Politics 74 (2): 205-248.
Two dominant explanations for ethnic bias in distributional outcomes are electoral incentives and out-group prejudice. This article proposes a novel and complementary explanation for the phenomenon: variation in legibility across ethnic groups. The author argues that states will allocate fewer resources to groups from which they cannot gather accurate information or collect taxes. The argument is supported by original data on state aid from the 1891/1892 famine in the Russian Empire. Qualitative and quantitative analyses show that districts with a larger Muslim population experienced higher famine mortality and received less generous public assistance. The Muslims, historically ruled via religious intermediaries, were less legible and generated lower fiscal revenues. State officials could not guarantee the repayment of food loans or collect tax arrears from Muslim communes, so they were more likely to withhold aid. State relief did not vary with the presence of other minorities that were more legible and generated more revenue.
Charnysh, V. and L. Peisakhin. 2021. "The Role of Communities in the Transmission of Political Values." The British Journal of Political Science: 1-21.
This article evaluates the role of community bonds in the long-term transmission of political values. At the end of World War II, Poland’s borders shifted westward, and the population from the historical region of Galicia (now partly in Ukraine) was displaced to the territory that Poland acquired from Germany. In a quasi-random process, some migrants settled in their new villages as a majority group, preserving communal ties, while others ended up in the minority. The study leverages this natural experiment of history by surveying the descendants of these Galician migrants. The research design provides an important empirical test of the theorized effect of communities on long-term value transmission, which separates the influence of family and community as two competing and complementary mechanisms. The study finds that respondents in Galicia-majority settlements are now more likely to embrace values associated with Austrian imperial rule and are more similar to respondents whose families avoided displacement.
Charnysh, V. 2019. "Diversity, Institutions, and Economic Outcomes: Post-WWII Displacement in Poland." American
Political Science Review 113 (12): 423-441.
How does an increase in cultural diversity
affect state–society interactions? Do institutional differences between heterogeneous and homogeneous
communities influence economic activity? I argue that heterogeneity not only impedes informal cooperation
but also increases demand for third-party enforcement provided by the state. Over time, the greater
willingness of heterogeneous communities to engage with state institutions facilitates the accumulation of
state capacity and, in common-interest states, promotes private economic activity. I test this argument
using original data on post-WWII population transfers in Poland. I find that homogeneous migrant
communities were initially more successful in providing local public goods through informal enforcement,
while heterogeneous migrant communities relied on the state for the provision of public goods.
Economically similar during state socialism, heterogeneous communities collected higher tax revenues and
registered higher incomes and entrepreneurship rates following the transition to the market. These
findings challenge the predominant view of diversity as harmful to economic development.
Charnysh, V., E. Finkel. 2017. "The Death Camp
Eldorado: Political and Economic Effects of Mass Violence." American Political
Science Review 111 (4): 801-818.
Transfer and redistribution of wealth accompany
most violent conflicts throughout the world, yet the local-level political and economic effects of this
phenomenon remain unexplored. We address
this omission by examining the long-term impact on the surrounding communities of the Nazi
death camp Treblinka in Poland, where nearly a million Jews were murdered. The assets of murdered
Jews sometimes ended up in the hands of the local population. We are able to identify the enduring
impact of these property transfers on local economic and political outcomes because the exact location
of Treblinka was exogenous to the characteristics of surrounding communities. We find that communities
located closer to the camp experienced a real estate boom but do not exhibit higher levels of economic
and social development. These communities also showed higher support for an anti-Semitic party, the
League of Polish Families. Our findings speak to an important but overlooked challenge to post-conflict
reconstruction and reconciliation.
Charnysh, V., S. Markus. 2017. "The Flexible Few: Oligarchs and
Wealth Defense in Developing Democracies". Comparative Political Studies 50
Based on an original large-N dataset of
individual Ukrainian oligarchs and
qualitative evidence, we test competing perspectives on the political power
of big capital. We find, surprisingly, that neither the assumption of direct
power by the oligarchs, nor the mobility of oligarchic assets, help tycoons
protect their fortunes against shocks. Instead, the indirect strategies of
party support and media ownership significantly enhance business wealth.
Empirically, we profile postcommunist oligarchs by examining the political
and economic activities of 177 Ukrainian oligarchs from 2006 to 2012.
Theoretically, we contribute to the literatures on instrumental and
structural power of capital, and on the interactions between extreme
wealth, rule of law, and democracy. In doing so, we contrast the logic of
flexibility, according to which oligarchs benefit from political adaptability
and deniability, with the logic of commitment compensation, according to
which oligarchs benefit from direct power when the rule of law is weak.
Charnysh, V. 2015. “Historical Legacies of Interethnic
Competition: Anti-Semitism and the EU Referendum in Poland.” Comparative Political
Studies 48 (13): 1711-1745.
How do historical legacies shape contemporary
political outcomes? The article proposes a novel attitudinal mechanism through which distant interethnic
competition can influence political preferences in the present. It theorizes that historically conditioned
predispositions at the local level can moderate the effects of national-level framing of a policy issue.
Using Poland as a test case, I show that subnational variation in support for EU accession was influenced
by populist claims about the increase in Jewish influence in the postaccession period. Anti-Semitic cues
resonated with voters in areas with historically large Jewish populations and a contentious interethnic
past, where latent anti-Semitism persisted throughout the communist period. To provide evidence for this
argument, the article draws on rich historical and contemporary data at the county, town, and individual
level of analysis and utilizes novel research methods.
Charnysh, V., P. Lloyd, B.A. Simmons. 2015. "Frames and Consensus in International Relations: the Case
of Human Trafficking." European Journal of International Relations 21 (2):
This article examines the process of consensus
formation by the international community regarding how to confront the problem of trafficking in persons.
We analyze the corpus of United Nations General Assembly Third Committee resolutions to show that: (1)
consensus around the issue of how to confront trafficking in persons has increased over time; and (2) the
formation of this consensus depends upon how the issue is framed. We test our argument by examining the
characteristics of resolutions’ sponsors and discursive framing concepts such as crime, human rights, and
the strength of enforcement language. We conclude that the consensus-formation process in international
relations is more aptly described as one of ‘accommodation’ through issue linkage than a process of
Charnysh, V., C. Lucas, P. Singh. 2015. “The
Ties that Bind: National Identity Salience and Pro-Social Behavior.” Comparative
Political Studies 48 (3): 267-300.
At the psychological level, ethnic conflict can
be seen as an extreme result of normal group identification processes. Bridging perceived intergroup
boundaries is therefore key to improving intergroup relations. In contrast to the dominant association of
nationalism with racism, chauvinism, xenophobia, and intolerance, we highlight the constructive potential
of national identification. In a survey experiment, we find that the increased salience of a shared
(Indian) national identity increases donations by members of a dominant ethnic group (Hindus) to members
of a rival, minority group (Muslims). This effect is moderated by social status (caste). We suggest that
national identification leads to a greater transformation in the behavior of low-status members of an
ethnic group because they are more likely to be drawn to national identity as an enhancement of their
social standing. Our study has implications for theories of social identity and interethnic cooperation,
as well as for the literature on nationalism.
Charnysh V. 2013. "Identity Mobilization in
Hybrid Regimes: Language in Ukrainian Politics." Nationalities Papers 41 (1) :
In 2012, a new language law in Ukraine allowed
cities and regions to elevate the status of any minority language spoken by at least 10% of their
population to “official” alongside Ukrainian. I argue that the law fails to protect genuine linguistic
minorities and is likely to further undermine linguistic diversity in certain Ukrainian regions. More
important, the law prolongs the vicious circle between Ukraine's lack of democracy and its politicians'
reliance on identity cleavages to gather votes. I argue that the continuing exploitation of identity
divides is increasing the popularity of extreme right parties and widening the gap in policy preferences
between Ukrainian and Russian speakers. However, the current ethno-regional cleavages do not stand for
irreconcilable identity attachments and their impact can be mitigated. The EU could contribute to this
outcome by providing expert opinions on minority and language rights; demonstrating a commitment to
Ukraine's territorial integrity and independence to de-securitize the minority rights discourse; and
increasing individual-level contacts between the EU and Ukraine to promote a broader European identity.
Charnysh, V. and D. Ziblatt. "Consequences of Competition Under Autocracy for Democratic Elections: From Imperial to Weimar Germany."
How do authoritarian election practices affect democratic political outcomes? We argue that political parties' uneven access to state resources in a pre-democratic setting has lasting effects on their organizational development and electoral prospects after a democratic transition. When party elites are able to win authoritarian elections through manipulation, they under-invest in formal party organization and fail to cultivate stable voter linkages. After a democratic transition, poorly institutionalized parties are less effective at containing internal disagreements and representing their electorates, which undermines their electoral performance and increases voter defections to anti-system parties. We test this argument using an original district-level dataset on electoral disputes in German elections (1871-1912). We show that pro-regime parties' greater reliance on electoral manipulation in non-democratic elections predicts bigger electoral losses by their successor parties after democratization and that the Nazi Party secured more votes in districts with a history of electoral manipulation during the Great Depression.
Bollen, P. and V. Charnysh. "Dispute Resolution in Heterogeneous Societies."
How do individuals choose between alternative legal systems? We manipulate ethnicity of parties to a land dispute in an online experiment in Ghana and analyze Afrobarometer survey to understand the role of ethnicity in preferences for state courts over customary leaders. In Accra, an ethnically heterogeneous city, respondents were more likely to recommend customary dispute resolution for disputants who shared ethnicity with the local chief; they evaluated the chief as more biased and less able to provide an effective and amicable settlement in non-coethnic disputes, relative to state courts. In more homogeneous Kumasi, disputants’ ethnicity did not affect legal strategies. Using Afrobarometer, we find that respondents who live in more ethnically heterogeneous districts are less likely to identify traditional leaders as responsible for dispute resolution and land allocation and view them as less influential; this relationship is strongest in urban areas where both state and non-state justice is available.
Charnysh, V. and Sascha Riaz. "After the Genocide: Exposure to Violence and Support for Transitional Justice."
Transitional justice is a national-level policy, endogenous to post-transition politics, but conflict experiences are inherently local. How does greater exposure to violence against outgroups affect preferences toward addressing ingroup crimes? We focus on West Germany in the 1960s, when the Adenauer consensus that a few hard-core Nazis were responsible for the war crimes and the ordinary Germans were victims of the war, began to unravel. In 1963-65, the Auschwitz trial made gruesome details about the Nazi annihilation of Jews in concentration camps outside of Germany public for the first time. The trial also sparked heated parliamentary debates about the extension of the Statute of Limitations on Nazi crimes, set to expire twenty years after the war. Using the difference-in-differences analysis, we find an increase in support for the Social Democrats, the party that maintained greater responsibility for the Nazi crimes, in localities that had more Jews and thus directly witnessed anti-Semitic violence during the Nazi period. We further show that MPs born in such localities were more likely to support extending the Statute of Limitations in both 1965 and 1969.
Charnysh, V. and R. Pique. "Erasing a Nation: The Enduring Effect of Nazi Repression in Poland."
After the Nazi invasion of Poland, the western regions of the country were incorporated into the German Reich. The rest of German-occupied Poland was placed under military occupation. De-polonization efforts in annexed territories were particularly severe: the Catholic Church was systematically persecuted, Polish schools were closed, and thousands of Poles were uprooted to free up land for German settlers. We leverage the exogeneity of the border between annexed and occupied areas to estimate the effects of Nazi annexation on long-run political outcomes. Using a geographic RD resign, we provide evidence of greater persecution against the clergy - and Polish nationals in general - in the annexed areas. We also show that repression against the Church dampened religious attendance, an effect that was large and statistically significant in 1991 but weakened by the 2000s. We also find greater support for right-wing parties centered around Polish nationalism and Catholic values in the annexed region, which suggests that repression ultimately backfired, even as it dampened religious participation.