PRESS Research Workshop: "The Albatross of Education: Personal Student Debt and Preferences for Redistribution" and "Authoritarianism, Anxiety, and Attitudes Toward Syrian Refugees"
Department:Center for the Study of Democratic Politics
Audience:Restricted to Princeton University
PRESS workshops are co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics (CSDP), Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, and the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance
Open to all Princeton students, faculty, and fellows working on experimental research design in the social sciences
"The Albatross of Education: Personal Student Debt and Preferences for Redistribution"
· Author: Cameron Ballard-Rosa (UNC/Princeton)
· Abstract: While the workhorse models in political economy predict that rising inequality should be met with greater demands for taxation and redistribution in democracy, the expansion of income inequality in the U.S. seems to have been met, if anything, with falling demands for the state to respond. One prominent account for this anomaly is that politicians have created the appearance of purchasing power for poorer individuals by making credit easily available, especially cheap mortgage loans. To date, support for this account has largely been drawn at the macro-level; yet, if true, this theory should have easily observable micro-level implications. In this paper, I argue that our understanding of the political role for private credit remains underdeveloped, and propose that different kinds of personal debt--mortgages, credit cards, and student loans--should have differing effects on the redistributive preferences of individuals. Drawing on a novel and interactive survey experiment, I demonstrate strong individual-level support for my claim that increased levels of personal student loans leads individuals to favor redistribution both within but also outside the realm of education policy. In so doing, I also emphasize the importance of moving our conception of material interests beyond income to a broader asset-based conception of political economy.
"Authoritarianism, Anxiety, and Attitudes Toward Syrian Refugees"
· Author: Carrie Barnett (Princeton)
· Abstract: Many of the Americans who oppose resettling Syrian refugees in the United States cite security concerns as the primary reason for this opposition. At the same time, there is a large partisan divide in support for resettling refugees, but this divide may merely reflect underlying attitudes toward law and order. This project will investigate whether anxiety is a significant mediator of Americans’ level of support for admitting Syrian refugees to the United States and whether priming respondents’ level of anxiety has heterogeneous treatment effects depending on authoritarian tendencies. A pilot survey of American adults on MTurk will assess respondents’ authoritarian tendencies along with other covariates, manipulate some respondents’ anxiety levels, and then ask respondents a series of questions about their attitudes toward the resettlement of Syrian refugees. In combination with the manipulation, the project will also test whether providing information about the vetting process that refugees undergo assuages anxiety, based on evidence from a prior survey that this information significantly increased support for admitting refugees among conservatives and Republicans.