Stephen Chaudoin
Assistant Professor
Stephen Chaudoin
Office CGIS Knafel, Room 207
Phone +1 678 637 8392
Address   Department of Government
Harvard University
CGIS Knafel Building 207
Cambridge, MA  02138
About Me

  • In the fall of 2018, I joined the Department of Government at Harvard University. I received my PhD from the Princeton University Department of Politics in the Spring of 2012. From the Fall of 2012 to the Spring of 2014, I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Political Science, and then was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois from 2014-2018.
  • I am interested in international institutions, international political economy, and formal and quantitative methods. My research contributes to questions of how international institutions affect member state behavior. Existing theories focus on domestic enforcement mechanisms associated with international cooperation. My theoretical work examines how the preferences, political strength, and strategic behavior of domestic actors facilitate and constrain domestic enforcement mechanisms. My empirical work has tested these theories in settings ranging from international trade and the WTO to war crimes and the ICC as well as environmental contexts.
Curriculum Vita

Peer-reviewed Publications

Working Papers

  • How International Organizations Change Media Discussion of Internal Violence (Under review. Presented at Bozeman Directions Conference 2019, SPSA 2020, PEIO 2020).

    How do international institutions change the discussion of human rights violations and how does their message reach the broader public? I show how local media is a key conduit that is affected by international institutions' actions. I use analysis of media coverage from the Philippines to show that the International Criminal Court changed the content of media coverage of the war on drugs. I find that the ICC did not increase total coverage of the war on drugs. However, the ICC triggered contestation between pro- and anti-human rights actors, which increased the proportion of media coverage focusing on the human rights aspects of the war on drugs. This helps explain why international institutions have struggled to win public opinion battles. Though their actions amplify the voices of actors who support the institution, media coverage concurrently amplifies the voices of their opponents. This study thus provides systematic evidence of how international institutions reach the mass politics through their effect on local media coverage.

  • Democratic Leader Selection in Inter-Group Contest Games with Sarah Hummel and Yon Soo Park. (Under review. Presented at APSA 2019, SPSA 2020, Harvard Experimental Conference 2020).

    Interactions between groups often depend on choices made by democratically selected group leaders. We show that democratic leader selection increases inefficient effort in inter-group contest games using an online laboratory experiment. We attribute a large portion of this increase to an election effect, wherein individuals behave differently once they are elected leader of a group. Democratic elections intensify group identification and create a sense of obligation to voters, causing leaders to engage in more competitive behavior. We use a carefully specified decomposition strategy to distinguish the election effect from the well-known selection effects, wherein eventual leaders are non-randomly chosen. From a welfare perspective, our negative finding is contrary to the near-universal positive effects of democracy found in intra-group experiments.

  • Elections, War, and Gender: Choose to Run, Choose to Fight with Sarah Hummel and Yon Soo Park. (Under review).

    Most explanations of so-called "Iron Ladies" - women leaders associated with interstate conflict - emphasize gendered aspects of international politics. We highlight a different explanation based on the self selection of women into candidacy for group leadership. More competitive women are both more likely to run for office and to choose hawkish policies once elected. We demonstrate this with a laboratory experiment using online real-time, group play where participants choose to run for election, conduct a simple campaign, and represent their group if elected. We find that more competitive women select into candidacy, campaign more effectively, and then fight harder in the intergroup contests than their male counterparts. These patterns appear even though our protocol stacks the deck against gender biases by anonymizing participants and shuffling groups. Our findings emphasize the agency and preferences of Iron Ladies who choose to run and, subsequently, choose to fight harder in intergroup contests.

  • Complementarity and Public Views on Overlapping Domestic and International Courts with Kelebogile Zvobgo (Presented at SPSA 2020, ISA 2020, Univ. of Chicago 2020, UCLA, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Univ. of Washington 2021).

    A growing regime complex of domestic and international legal institutions have overlapping jurisdictions for violations of international law. In many contexts, the jurisdiction of the international court is limited by the concept of "complementarity," which limits an international court's ability to intervene except in countries where plaintiffs have exhausted domestic remedies or governments have been unwilling or unable to conduct investigations. We ask whether complementarity (a) increases support for international courts' actions and (b) increases support for domestic remedies as a way to forestall international court action. International courts, especially the International Criminal Court, rely heavily on an affirmative answer to both questions. We assess these predictions with a survey experiment about the ICC in the Republic of Georgia. We additionally leverage qualitative data from interviews with Georgian civil society actors and policymakers. The results are important because they describe the conditions under which institutional design principles, like complementarity, can help stem the tide of public opinion against international organizations. In extensions to this research, planned for early 2021, we field surveys in Israel, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United States.

  • Trade War or Election Interference? with Ryan Brutger and Max Kagan. (Presented at GSIPE and Berkeley MIRTH 2021).

    In response to the Trump trade war, many countries enacted politically-targeted trade retaliation against swing states and Republican strongholds. We argue that politically-targeted retaliation increases public concerns about foreign election interference and test the effects of such retaliation across partisan affiliations. We test our predictions using a national survey experiment in the United States fielded before the 2020 election. In contrast to findings about sanctions and foreign endorsements, we find strong evidence that Republicans and Democrats alike worry about politically targeted retaliation as election interference. We also test whether different types of retaliation generate a political backlash against the retaliating actor. When the incumbent's base is targeted, attitudes toward the retaliating state worsen, but the same is not true when swing states are targeted. Taken together, the evidence shows that even economic policies whose primary goal is not electoral interference may nonetheless become viewed in that light.

  • Why Populists Neglect Automation: The Political Economy of Economic Dislocation with Michael-David Mangini. (Presented at GSIPE 2021).

    Why do populists emphasize offshoring as a cause of manufacturing job losses when automation is at least as significant a culprit? Why have voters predominantly responded to automation and offshoring shocks by demanding a retreat from globalization but not transfers to the unemployed? We propose that both questions are explained by the collision of economic nationalism and comparative advantage trade. Economic nationalists who value their state’s self-sufficiency are hesitant to support policies that could hamper their own state’s comparative advantage industries, like regulations of high-tech automation. They are more comfortable with tariffs restricting imports. In the United States, which has a comparative advantage in the production of capital intensive automation technologies, this effect undercuts the willingness of voters to support policies that would protect manufacturing jobs by reducing the ability of American firms to sell technology. Opportunistic populist politicians emphasize offshoring because economic nationalist voters are unified in their support for limiting imports but divided in their support for limiting automation. We develop a formal model of nationalist demand for policy in response to economic dislocation, where citizens form preferences over redistribution plans and a policy response that blunts dislocation (like a tariff or a restriction on automation). The source (foreign versus domestic) and type (labor versus automation) of a shock affects the preferred weights citizens place on each policy. We test the model’s predictions with a survey experiment fielded in the United States. Consistent with expectations, domestic automation shocks increase the weight respondents place on redistribution versus a regulatory response, while globalization shocks place much heavier weight on regulatory (tariff) responses. Altering the source of each shock - by emphasizing foreign-produced automation technology or within-country labor relocation - reweights responses towards regulations in the former case and redistribution in the latter case. Our findings contribute to our understanding of the political consequences of the current populist moment as well as the future consequences and remedies for automation shocks.

Research In Progress

  • Ignoring Ignorability: Assessing the Exogeneity of Instrumental Variables in IR Research with Jude Hays, Raymond Hicks, and Shom Mazumder.

    We conduct a large scale replication exercise to reproduce results from extant international relations research that use instrumental variables (IV). Most existing uses of IV focus almost exclusively on an exclusion restriction assumption. Yet, an equally important assumption concerns the degree to which instruments are correlated with observables that also affect outcomes, an independence assumption. We document the degree to which existing applications uphold this assumption and describe sensitivity testing approaches that can circumscribe inferences in the presence of violations of the independence assumption.

  • Direct-to-voter Trade Marketing: Analysis of Facebook Ad Campaigns with Sooahn Shin.

  • Hegemony in a Networked World with Helen Milner and Xun Pang.

  • Trading Arguments with Dustin Tingley (Presented at APSA 2018).

    We use a novel online platform for organized structured debates to assess two questions: (1) what arguments for and against free trade inform citizen's opinions on free trade and (2) can debating an issue decrease the polarization of opinion surrounding that issue? We find initial evidence that participating in a debate lowers the prevalence of extreme opinions about trade and weakens the relationship between political ideology and trade preferences. Our approach shows a new way to detect facets of opinions around foreign (or domestic) policies.

  • Political Contestation and Firm Behavior in Response to WTO Disputes with Raymond Hicks (Presented at IPES 2014, MPSA 2015, APSA 2015).

    We develop a theoretical model where international institutions, such as the WTO, can influence contests between domestic actors with divergent preferences over policies. A large body of literature argues that international institutions facilitate compliance by mobilizing pro-compliance domestic actors. This paper builds on those theories by incorporating the effect of institutions on both pro- and anti-compliance actors. The theoretical model yields empirically testable predictions about the effect of institutional actions on the effort exerted by opposing actors in the ensuing contest and the likely outcome of the contest. In the context of WTO disputes, different firms support or oppose the removal of restrictions to trade. They can exert effort via campaign contributions and lobbying to influence policy. We assess the model's predictions using a new dataset which uses Bill of Lading data to identify firms who support and oppose protectionist policies at the product level. We link these data with firm level data on political contributions as a measure of effort. We show how, consistent with the theoretical prediction, the ex ante relative balance between firms moderates their response to external shocks like WTO disputes.

Spring, 2019, 2020, 2021GOV 40 - Introduction to International Relations Syllabus , Assignments Undergraduate, Harvard University
Fall, 2019GOV 2752 - Formal Theory in IR and CPGraduate, Harvard University
Spring, 2018GOV 40 - Introduction to International RelationsUndergraduate, Harvard University
Fall, 2018GOV 3007 - Political Economy WorkshopGraduate, Harvard University
Spring, 2017PS 598 - Human RightsGraduate, University of Illinois
Fall, 2017PS 280 - Introduction to International RelationsUndergraduate, University of Illinois
Spring, 2017PS 280 - Introduction to International RelationsUndergraduate, University of Illinois
Fall, 2016PS 596 - International Political Economy Syllabus Graduate, University of Illinois
Fall/Spring, 2016PS 590 - Critical Evaluation of New Research in PS Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
Fall, 2016PS 280 - Introduction to International Relations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
Spring, 2016PS 280 - Introduction to International Relations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
Spring, 2016PS 392 - International Organizations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
Fall, 2015PS 398 - Strategy in International Relations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
Spring, 2015PS 398 - Strategy in International RelationsUndergraduate, University of Illinois
Fall, 2014PS 582 - International Political EconomyGraduate, University of Illinois
Spring, 2014PS 2703 - Formal Political Theory I Syllabus Graduate, University of Pittsburgh
Spring, 2014PS 1514 - Political Strategy in International RelationsUndergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
Fall, 2013PS 1581 - Capstone Seminar, International Courts Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
Fall, 2013PS 1503 - International OrganizationsUndergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
Spring, 2013PS 1514 - Political Strategy in International Relations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
Spring, 2013PS 1503 - International Organizations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
Fall, 2012PS 1503 - International Organizations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
Spring, 2011POL 250 - Intro. to Game TheoryPreceptor for Prof. John Londregan, Princeton University
Spring, 2010POL 250 - Intro. to Game TheoryPreceptor for Prof. Adam Meirowitz, Princeton University
Fall, 2010POL 571 - Quantitative Methods I (Graduate)Preceptor for Prof. John Londregan, Princeton University

Other Publications and works

Dissertation Research

  • Abstract: A large body of literature with a lengthy history argues that international institutions facilitate cooperation by providing information. Cooperation among nations is difficult without credible punishment for defectors, and information is key to detecting the occurrence and severity of those defections. Domestic audiences are thought to be a key source of punishment. This dissertation explains how variation in the preferences and political strength of domestic audiences condition the informational role of institutions. I develop a theory that shows how audience preferences and strength affect how audiences react to information about defections, how their reaction, in turn, affects member states' strategic decision over whether to transmit information, and how policymakers choose whether to cooperate in the shadow of potential punishment. I demonstrate this theory with evidence at both the macro and micro levels, both observational and experimental. At the macro level, I show how audience preferences and political strength affect the timing of World Trade Organization disputes against the United States. At the micro level, I conduct an original survey experiment that shows how audience preferences moderate the degree to which audiences punish defections. Taken together, the theory and empirical analysis advance our understanding of the promise and limitations of international institutions and agreements as independent forces for cooperation.

  • My dissertation committee members were: Helen Milner (chair), Christina Davis, Robert Keohane, and John Londregan.
  • My full dissertation is available here: (.pdf) .

Harvard University, Department of Government