Publications & Working Papers

Leveraging Armageddon: Nuclear Weapons in Crisis Bargaining


International war is often studied as a bargaining problem, but nuclear weapons change the nature of this strategic interaction. We provide a formal model to show how nuclear weapons change the fundamental bargaining problem faced by countries in crisis. While mutual ownership of nuclear weapons can reduce the likelihood of conventional warfare, an asymmetric ownership typically guarantees the possessor their full demand, demonstrating the value in acquiring nuclear technology. Further, we explore implications of the model on institutional design for nonproliferation by extending the baseline model to account for potential denuclearization at the outset. The model sheds light on which nonproliferation regimes are likely to succeed and which are likely to exacerbate the problem and incentivize nuclear threats.

Recommended citation: Ruggiero, Joseph and Carter, Perry. (2023). "Leveraging Armageddon: Nuclear Weapons in Crisis Bargaining." Working Paper.

Territorial Loss and Populism (under review)

LISD Working Paper Series 2023

In this paper, we argue for the importance of a previously-overlooked factor - the existence of prior grievances over historical loss of territory - as a source of support for ethno-populist parties. While territorial loss is not itself a necessary condition for the emergence of populism, the issue lends itself unusually well to the backward-looking, loss-oriented framing of national victimization at the hands of elites that constitutes a key element of such parties’ electoral success. Drawing on original cross-national experimental and observational data from surveys conducted in Romania, Hungary, Germany, and Turkey in 2020-2021, we demonstrate that territorial loss attitudes are a remarkably robust predictor of support for ethno-populist parties, although important differences in national context emerge across cases. In addition, the panel structure of our data allows us to exploit a quasi-natural experiment in the form of the emergence of a new and highly successful populist party in Romania between waves, from which we conclude that loss attitudes are stable over time and temporally prior to support for populism.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry and Pop-Eleches, Grigore. (2023). "Territorial Loss and Populism." LISD Working Paper.

My neighbor's loss: Social Transmission and the Legacies of Violence.


A growing literature demonstrates the potential of violence that ocurred more than a lifetime ago to exert powerful influence on political behavior in the present. Yet, little is known about what conditions determine when legacies will manifest, or how they are transmitted in different contexts. This paper presents findings from a survey conducted in Southern Armenia among 1200 individuals in settlements with varying levels of exposure to past violence. I estimate the effect of past experiences of repression during the Armenian Genocide and Stalinist repressions on contemporary participation and political preferences. Contrary to other recent work, the analysis reveals that direct exposure to repression does not significantly influence political behavior. Instead, the legacy of violence in Armenia operates almost exclusively through the channel of social transmission. Moreover, the findings underscore the pivotal role of narrative storytelling in shaping these connections, providing a deeper understanding of the mechanisms through which historical memory and collective experiences impact contemporary political dynamics. The study contributes to the literature on the interplay of history, social networks, and political behavior in post-authoritarian societies.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry. (2023). "My neighbor's loss: Social Transmission and the Legacies of Violence." Working Paper.

An Impassable Road to Glory: Loss and Displacement in the Republic of Armenia


This study considers the impact of individual attitudes to both historical and recent territorial losses on political behavior. It explores the connection between individual attitudes towards lost territories and their influence on incumbent support and participation in anti-government protests. Using data from an original survey conducted in Armenia, the paper estimates the causal impact of individual concern over lost territory, leveraging exogenous variation induced by exposure to displaced persons and the visibility of Mount Ararat. The analysis shows that those valuing lost territory more are prone to withdrawing government support, emphasizing candidate traits related to symbolic compliance, and engaging in risky protests. This effect is mediated by emotional distress related to territorial losses. Notably, social network position, rather than media consumption or political partisanship, drives these effects, highlighting a potent grassroots check on political elites in nascent democracies. These findings extend the existing understanding of irredentism, uncovering the role of public attitudes in contexts beyond interstate conflicts. They also deepen insights into the legacies of political violence, revealing how present contexts shape interpretation of historical collective trauma. Lastly, the study enriches knowledge about nationalism and populism in emerging democracies, spotlighting how divergent narrative beliefs about the nation can impact behavior even in a context of universally high nationalism.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry. (2023). "An Impassable Road to Glory: Loss and Displacement in the Republic of Armenia." Working Paper.

My Country is Occupied: How Territorial Loss Narratives Shape Political Ambiguity Attitudes


Given the powerful association between territory and the nation, losses of territorial integrity often achieve a high degree of political salience, even when there exists no realistic path towards reversing the loss. Remarkably little is known, however, about how the prominence of the territorial issue structures domestic politics. Drawing on experimental evidence from Romania, this paper provides micro-level evidence that elite narratives emphasizing past territorial loss shape the political behavior of ordinary citizens through their effect on ambiguity attitudes. When the reference point is shifted to an imagined past when the nation was physically whole, even policy choices with positive outcomes are felt as relative losses, increasing willingness to opt for unknown quantities, such as expensive prestige projects or outsider parties.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry. (2023). "My Country is Occupied: How Territorial Loss Narratives Shape Political Ambiguity Attitudes." Working Paper.

Learning from Noise: Sample Complexity Bounds for Applied Machine Learning in Social Science


Statistical learning increasingly provides a bridge between theoretical concepts and empirical realities in quantitative political science research. However, many concepts of interest to scholars are both highly multidimensional and inherently fuzzy, making even manual classification highly error-prone. The consequences of these issues for machine learning applications are not well understood, generating persistent uncertainty over what constitutes good enough data for applied research in social science, where available training sets are often relatively small. In this paper, we introduce a novel framework, learning from noise, taking advantage of researcher-specified bounds on conceptual complexity and labelling error to guarantee the sample size necessary to achieve a minimum level of accuracy with a precise level of confidence. In addition, a novel simulation-based approach, implemented in a companion R package, scR, permits researchers to determine appropriate bounds under a variety of sampling regimes for commonly-used machine learning models. Our method thus provides a simple analogue to power calculations for experimental work that allows applied researchers to assess the feasibility of applying statistical learning models at the design stage.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry and Choi, Dahyun. (2023). "Learning from Noise: Sample Complexity Bounds for Applied Machine Learning in Social Science." Working Paper.

Some for the Price of One: Targeted Redistribution and Social Structure (under review)


Social networks play an important role in distributive politics, yet social structure is rarely considered explicitly. We provide a formal model of elections in which candidates may offer excludable transfers to policy-motivated voters connected on a social network. By transparently incorporating group shares, homophily, and density of ties in a generative framework, our model facilitates systematic comparison across societies that vary on these underlying dimensions. In equilibrium, transfers are determined primarily by group shares and homophily, with density mattering only indirectly. Inequalities in provision of goods are driven by disproportionate targeting of minorities. Additionally, we consider heterogeneous information between candidates, clarifying the main role of density as a source of more precise information and demonstrating that homophily can endogenously produce in-group favoritism even when candidates are purely office-motivated. These results highlight the importance of aggregate social structure on targeted redistribution and suggest new directions for empirical studies of non-programmatic distribution.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry and Ruggiero, Joseph. (2023). "Some for the Price of One: Targeted Redistribution and Social Structure." Working Paper.

Interest Groups for the Poor: Social Network Structure as a Mediator Between Economic Vulnerability, Social Identity, and Clientelism.


Clientelism, that is, the distribution of excludable benefits to citizens contingent on their political support, is associated with a host of negative economic and social outcomes. In addition to undermining the democratic process, clientelism has been linked with reduced trust, corruption and weakened public service delivery. Building on a formal model of clientelist transfers on a network, we study the effect of social networks on the prevalence and effectiveness of vote-buying. By combining complete local census data with aggregated data for small villages in Punjab, Pakistan, we estimate the effects of social network structure on identity politics and redistribution at the local level.

Recommended citation: Carter, Perry, Simon, Tiffany, and Joseph Ruggiero. (2023). "Interest Groups for the Poor: Social Network Structure as a Mediator Between Economic Vulnerability, Social Identity, and Clientelism." Working Paper.

Russia's smart power foreign policy and Antarctica

The Polar Journal 2016

If the anarchy of the international system obliges states to pursue a foreign policy aimed at increasing their economic and military power in order to ensure their own security, then the interests of a number of states in Antarctica require further explanation. Despite the debateable value of the Antarctic region from the perspective of a strategy of hard power; the authors argue that Russian interests in Antarctica can also be seen as part of a strategy of maximising so-called “smart power”. Russia’s Antarctic policy aims to forward national interests as well as strengthening the nation’s internal and external image as a state committed to cooperatively resolving global problems. Russia’s recent significant expenditures in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean indicate the existence of a long-term foreign policy strategy on the part of the Russian leadership.

Recommended citation: Perry Carter, Anne-Marie Brady and Evgeny Pavlov (2016) Russia's smart power foreign policy and Antarctica, The Polar Journal, 6:2, 259-272, DOI: 10.1080/2154896X.2016.1257102