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David Laitin
Journal Articles

The Legacy of Colonial Language Policies and Their Impact on Student Learning: Evidence from an Experimental Program in Cameroon

David Laitin, Rajesh Ramachandran, Stephen L. Walter
Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2019 September 30, 2019

The relative educational returns on colonial versus indigenous language instruction in sub-Saharan countries have yet to be decisively estimated. To address this unanswered question, this paper provides an impact assessment of an experiment in Cameroon in which the first 3 years of schooling were conducted in a local language instead of in English. Test results in examinations in both English and math reveal that treated students exhibit gains of 1.1–1.4 of a standard deviation in grades 1 and 3 compared with the control students.

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Journal Articles

Standardizing the fee-waiver application increased naturalization rates of low-income immigrants

Vasil Yasenov, Michael Hotard, Duncan Lawrence, Jens Hainmueller, David Laitin
PNAS, 2019 August 20, 2019

The problem of low naturalization rates in the United States has entered policymakers’ agendas in light of the societal gains associated with citizenship and an increasing number of foreign-born residents. Nevertheless, there is little evidence on what policy interventions work best to increase naturalization rates. In this research, we show that the standardization of the fee waiver for citizenship applications in 2010 raised naturalization rates among low-income immigrants.

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Books

African States Since Independence: Order, Development, and Democracy (Castle Lecture Series)

Darin Christensen, David Laitin
Yale University Press, 2019 May 28, 2019

Authors Christensen and Laitin argue that an interplay of geographic, historical, and demographic factors undergird sub‑Saharan states’ post‑independence struggles to eradicate poverty, establish democratic accountability, and quell civil unrest. They set out the founding fathers’ challenges in transforming their postcolonial states, many of which are ethnically diverse, geographically diffuse, sparsely populated, and lacking in administrative capacity.

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Journal Articles

A low-cost information nudge increases citizenship application rates among low-income immigrants

Michael Hotard, Duncan Lawrence, David Laitin, Jens Hainmueller
Nature: Human Behaviour, 2019 April 15, 2019

We show that an information nudge increased the rate of American citizenship applications among low-income immigrants eligible for a federal fee waiver. Approximately half of the 9 million naturalization-eligible immigrants qualify for a federal programme that waives the cost of the citizenship application for low-income individuals.

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Journal Articles

‘Sons of the soil’: A model of assimilation and population control

Avidit Acharya, David Laitin, Anna Zhang
Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2017 November 12, 2017
We model the cultural outcomes of ‘sons of the soil’ conflicts. These are conflicts between the local inhabitants of a particular region and migrants to the region, typically belonging to a dominant national culture. Our goal is to understand the conditions under which migrants assimilate into the local culture, or in which locals assimilate into the national culture. The model has two main actors: a national elite of a dominant ethnic group, and a regional elite seeking to promote the traditional culture of the sons of the soil. Both actors haveparallel strategies, viz.
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Journal Articles

Protecting unauthorized immigrant mothers improves their children’s mental health

Jens Hainmueller, Duncan Lawrence, Linna Marten, Bernard Black, Lucila Figueroa, Michael Hotard, Tomás R. Jiménez, Fernando Mendoza, Maria I. Rodriguez, Jonas J. Swartz, David Laitin
Science, 2017 August 31, 2017

The United States is embroiled in a debate about whether to protect or deport its estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants, but the fact that these immigrants are also parents to more than 4 million U.S.-born children is often overlooked. We provide causal evidence of the impact of parents’ unauthorized immigration status on the health of their U.S. citizen children. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program granted temporary protection from deportation to more than 780,000 unauthorized immigrants.

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Journal Articles

Introducing the AMAR (All Minorities at Risk) Data

Jóhanna K. Birnir, David Laitin, Jonathan Wilkenfeld, David M. Waguespack, Agatha S. Hultquist, Ted R. Gurr
Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2017 August 8, 2017

The article introduces the All Minorities at Risk (AMAR) data, a sample of socially recognized and salient ethnic groups. Fully coded for the forty core Minorities at Risk variables, this AMAR sample provides researchers with data for empirical analysis free from the selection issues known in the study of ethnic politics to date. We describe the distinct selection issues motivating the coding of the data with an emphasis on underexplored selection issues arising with truncation of ethnic group data, especially when moving between levels of data.

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Commentary

The Wrong Way to Stop Terrorism

Claire L. Adida, David Laitin, Marie-Anne Valfort
Foreign Affairs, 2017 February 1, 2017

On January 27, true to his campaign promise to suspend Muslim immigration, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting all immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from entering the United States. By doing so, the Trump administration has taken a definite stance on what it holds as the threat posed by immigrants and refugees to U.S. security.

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Commentary

Trust, Transparency, and Replication in Political Science

David Laitin, Rob Reich
PS: Political Science & Politics, 2017 January 1, 2017

Striving better to uncover causal effects, political science is amid a revolution in micro-empirical research designs and experimental methods. This methodological development—although quite promising in delivering new findings and discovering the mechanisms that underlie previously known associations—raises new and unnerving ethical issues that have yet to be confronted by our profession.

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Journal Articles

The Social Effects of Ethnic Diversity at the Local Level: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation

Yann Algan, Camille Hémet, David Laitin
Journal of Political Economy, 2016 June 30, 2016

Relying on diversity measures computed at the apartment block level under conditions of exogenous allocation of public housing in France, this paper identifies the effects of ethnic diversity on social relationships and housing quality. Housing Survey data reveal that diversity induces social anomie. Through the channel of anomie, diversity accounts for the inability of residents to sanction others for vandalism and to act collectively to demand proper building maintenance. However, anomie also lowers opportunities for violent confrontations, which are not related to diversity.

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Books

Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies

Claire L. Adida , David Laitin, Marie-Anne Valfort
Harvard University Press, 2016 January 4, 2016

Amid mounting fears of violent Islamic extremism, many Europeans ask whether Muslim immigrants can integrate into historically Christian countries. In a groundbreaking ethnographic investigation of France’s Muslim migrant population, Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies explores this complex question. The authors conclude that both Muslim and non-Muslim French must share responsibility for the slow progress of Muslim integration.

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Books

Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War

David Laitin, James D. Fearon
The Contemporary Conflict Resolution Reader, edited by Hugh Miall, Tom Woodhouse, Oliver Ramsbotham, and Christopher Mitchell, 2015 March 23, 2015

"Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War" is chapter 25 of the book The Contemporary Conflict Resolution Reader, edited by Hugh Miall, Tom Woodhouse, Oliver Ramsbotham, and Christopher Mitchell and published by Polity.

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Journal Articles

Women, Muslim Immigrants, and Economic Integration in France

Claire Adida, David Laitin, Marie-Anne Valfort
Economics and Politics,

Muslim immigrants to Europe display distinctive attitudes toward women in a wide range of survey data. This study investigates whether this translates into distinctive behavior. Relying on a dictator game in France and an identification strategy that isolates the effect of religion from typical confounds such as race, we compare the donations of matched Christian and Muslim immigrants and rooted French to in‐group and out‐group men vs. women.

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