June 1, 2008
This dissertation contains three independent essays, each applying statistical methods for causal inference in observational studies to central topics in comparative political behavior.
The first essay examines the claim often found in the democratization literature that foreign media undermine authoritarian regimes. Using formerly classified survey data and exploiting a natural experiment for identification, this case study of the effects of West German television in East Germany in contrast demonstrates that foreign media can act as a stabilizing force for authoritarian regimes.
The focus of the second essay is also on the effects of West German television in East Germany. It speaks to the literature on social movements and examines to what extent West German television facilitated the diffusion of protest during the East German revolution. It shows that there is little empirical support for anecdotal evidence that links West German television to the East German revolution.
The final essay tests a claim in positive political economy that men and women react differently to transitions out of marriage. In contrast to previous work, its analysis of British Household Panel Survey data finds no evidence that transitions out of marriage have an effect on political preferences or vote choice in UK General Elections. Transitions out of marriage do, however, cause a large drop in turnout among both men and women.
not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only