Kevin Esterling

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Identifying causal mechanisms is a fundamental goal of social science. Researchers seek to study not only whether one variable affects another but also how such a causal relationship arises. Yet commonly used statistical methods for identifying causal mechanisms rely upon untestable assumptions and are often inappropriate even under those assumptions.(More)
Despite their importance, there is limited evidence on how institutions can be strengthened. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the lack of exogenous variation in institutions, the difficulty of measuring institutional performance, and the temptation to ‘‘cherry pick’’ estimates from among the large number of indicators required to(More)
We develop a framework and tools for applying a computer‐assisted context analysis system and find that it achieves levels of accuracy comparable to humans for about 80% less effort when starting from scratch (no labeled examples). The system is presented using a case study of Congressional bill titles as a proxy for the full text of Congressional bills. We(More)
T here is growing appreciation for the advantages of experimentation in the social sciences. Policy-relevant claims that in the past were backed by theoretical arguments and inconclusive correlations are now being investigated using more credible methods. Changes have been particularly pronounced in development economics, where hundreds of randomized trials(More)
Interest in deliberative theories of democracy has grown tremendously among political theorists, political scientists, activists, and even government officials. Many scholars, however, are skeptical that it is a practically viable theory, even on its own terms. They argue (inter alia) that most people dislike politics and that deliberative initiatives would(More)
If ignored, noncompliance with a treatment or nonresponse on outcome measures can bias estimates of treatment effects in a randomizedexperiment. To identify and estimate causal treatment effects in the case where compliance and response depend on unobservables, we propose the parametric generalized endogenous treatment (GET) model. GET incorporates(More)
Deliberative theorists emphasize that citizens capacity to become informed when given a motive and the opportunity to participate in politics is important for democratic citizenship. We assess this capacity among citizens using a deliberative field experiment. In the summer of 2006, we conducted a field experiment in which we recruited twelve current(More)
We examine the speed and extent to which members of the U.S. House of Representatives adopt emerging Web-based communication technologies. Given the growing centrality of communication for governance and the Web’s growing role in effective public outreach, a rational actor approach would suggest that members of Congress should aggressively exploit online(More)
Do leaders persuade? Social scientists have long studied the relationship between elite behavior and mass opinion. However, there is surprisingly little evidence regarding direct persuasion by leaders. Here we show that political leaders can persuade their constituents directly on three dimensions: substantive attitudes regarding policy issues, attributions(More)