Alan Michael Jacobs

Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Social Organization and Political Systems
economic inequality
Political economy
public opinion
Public Policy
Research Methodology

Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

 
 

Research Methodology

Case Studies
process tracing
survey experiments
Statistical analysis
multi-method research

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Doctoral students
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Essays on political participation and the quality of democracy (2019)

In advanced industrial democracies, a substantial number of citizens feel alienated from mainstream politics and political elites. This dissertation analyzes factors that help mitigate two crucial aspects of citizen political alienation in these countries: political disengagement by an increasing segment of the electorate, especially poor and young voters; and the turn to radical alternatives such as far-right populist politicians and parties.Study 1 assesses the effect of procedural information costs - in particular, uncertainty about whether one has to be 18 by the registration deadline or by Election Day - on youth voter turnout across U.S. states. Using a regression discontinuity design with official state voter records and leveraging a discontinuity in voter turnout around the registration deadline, this study shows that uncertainty about the registration requirements for first-time voters depresses voter turnout both in the immediate, and also in subsequent, elections among this group of voters, turning many of them into habitual non-voters.Study 2 takes a new look at the relationship between levels of political participation and support for left-wing parties and policies. It reanalyzes a critical case - Australia in the early 20th century - frequently cited as a strong demonstration of such a relationship. Based on an original and more fine-grained dataset of district electoral data in combination with a difference-in-differences design, this study tests the robustness of the previously found relationship and investigates its mechanisms.Study 3 uses survey experimentation to test the responsiveness of populist voters to mainstream political messages. Based on a large-scale survey experiment with the polling firm YouGov shortly before the 2017 German federal election, it finds that emphasizing the good performance of the German economy was the most effective strategy to increase support for the incumbent Christian Democrats among likely rightwing populist voters.Overall, these findings speak to ongoing debates about the ability of politicians to shape citizens’ political behavior. Improving on previous quantitative research in this area, this research highlights the limitations of institutional fixes and provides new insights into the role of procedural information and political framing for civic engagement.

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The politics of consultative authoritarianism: bureaucratic competition, deliberation and responsiveness in China (2019)

No abstract available.

The Regulatory Ties That Bind Markets: The Political Economy of Cross-Border Integration in the Exchange Industry (2016)

This dissertation considers cross-border integration from the perspective of financial market regulators. It analyzes market authorities’ responses to the phenomenon of cross-border mergers and acquisitions in financial services, particularly involving exchanges. In some instances, regulators have approved these proposals, but in others they have intervened, even blocking proposals in high-profile decisions. This variation is puzzling and cannot be accounted for by standard explanations, including regime type or political pressures on regulators. When do officials interfere in the market for corporate control of financial service firms, and why? To explain this variation, the dissertation develops a theory of regulator dependence that focuses on the relationship between regulators and firms. The theory considers the conditions under which regulators’ preferences are insulated from social and political pressures, where regulators can act on their own preferences regarding integration. These preferences are a function of regulators’ dependence on firms’ cooperation and compliance to deliver on desired public policy outcomes. Mergers are threatening where regulators depend on a merging firm, and in these contexts regulators interfere with integration proposals. This dependence is a consequence of historical policy outcomes shaping the structure of the market and the allocation of regulatory authority. Empirical analysis of ten cases corroborates the theory’s predictions. The theory of regulator dependence establishes the analytical and empirical significance of considering regulators’ discrete views about market integration in order to explain certain financial market outcomes. In doing so, the dissertation contributes to our understanding of the conditions under which cross-border market integration is more or less politically feasible, and adds nuance to the established view that the historical development of domestic markets has significant and systematic effects on international market integration.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
The role of the family policy-VET dyad (2014)

The dualization literature looks to explain the institutional underpinnings of cross-class coalitions that support the growth of labor market dualism in Continental Europe, but has little consideration of institutional arenas that critically impact women’s employment. The gendered Varieties of Capitalism framework predicts that in coordinated market economies (CMEs), care-related employment risks attributed to women by the gender division of labor will result in a segregated labor market. The institutional complementarities that facilitate specific skills formation in male workers have distinct ramifications for women workers who are more likely to take time away from work to raise children. In both bodies of work, the gendered characteristic of labor market dualism or segregation is attributed to women’s irregular employment biography, thus taking for granted and naturalizing the gender division of labor. Fleshing out the policies that shape the gender division of labor, family policies as well as the vocational education and training (VET) system are identified in this thesis as a key institutional dyad that shapes the divergent incentive structure for female employment, and subsequently, a gendered dualistic labor market. Family policy and the VET system therefore become critical sites for investigating labor market dualization. The case studies look at changes to family policy between 1980 and 2000 in France and Germany. Using the family policy-VET institutional dyad as a tool for analysis, we observe the impact of this dynamic on women’s increasing rate of part-time work and decreasing specific skills acquisition. The gendered characteristic of dualism suggests that growing labor market segregation does not just result in unequal distributional outcomes in Continental Europe. With the proportion of women active in the labor market increasing, and the lack of family policies distributing care-related employment risks across both male and female employees, women workers and firms employing women face a pro-flexibility incentive structure with regards to training and employment strategies. As CMEs, Continental Europe creates growth and upkeeps a system of social security based on a specific skills labor market and industrial product strategy; a dualistic labor market based on gender thus poses problems for maintaining the specific skills competitive institutional advantage.

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Unorthodox approaches to participation in authoritarian regimes: the making of China's recent healthcare reforms (2011)

In recent years, non-democratic regimes have introduced a host of participatory forums. This paper asks why, given the absence of binding constitutional or institutional designs, authoritarian governments introduce, at their own initiative, participatory forums? To respond to this question, the paper suggests three theoretical possibilities: fragmented authoritarianism, enhancing legitimacy and information-gathering. Looking at the drafting of China’s recent healthcare reforms--where the government enacted various forums of participation--the paper tests these theories. Its findings indicate that these theories are not mutually exclusive, as each could explain the causes for the introduction particular participatory forums. This paper argues that this analytical framework could extend beyond the scope of China’s healthcare reform, and be applied to other episodes of policymaking both in China, and other non-democratic regimes.

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Unorthodox approaches to participation in authoritarian regimes: the making of China's recent healthcare reforms (2011)

In recent years, non-democratic regimes have introduced a host of participatory forums. This paper asks why, given the absence of binding constitutional or institutional designs, authoritarian governments introduce, at their own initiative, participatory forums? To respond to this question, the paper suggests three theoretical possibilities: fragmented authoritarianism, enhancing legitimacy and information-gathering. Looking at the drafting of China’s recent healthcare reforms--where the government enacted various forums of participation--the paper tests these theories. Its findings indicate that these theories are not mutually exclusive, as each could explain the causes for the introduction particular participatory forums. This paper argues that this analytical framework could extend beyond the scope of China’s healthcare reform, and be applied to other episodes of policymaking both in China, and other non-democratic regimes.

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