Welcome

September 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Public Policy at the Department of Political Science, University College London.

From January to September 2014, I am on research leave as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science and Institute for European Studies, University of British Columbia.

See below for updates relating to research and teaching.

The Politics of Academy Conversion Amongst English Schools

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

The ‘academization‘ of the English schooling system has been much-remarked, but there has been relatively little systematic work studying the politics of this process. In a new paper, forthcoming at Public Administration, I document both the magnitude of the phenomenon of academy conversion and some intriguing features of its underlying politics.

On the magnitude of the change that is underway, the figures are rather stark. Using data from January 2013, one third of secondary schools had converted by only the third year of the push by Michael Gove and the coalition government to foster this change.

I use data from an FoI request (provided by The Guardian) regarding which schools expressed an interest in converting to academy status to show that there is a marked political gradient to these expressions of interest. This can be seen clearly in a raw bivariate correlation (below) of the (binned) Conservative-minus-Labour vote share of Westminster constituencies in which schools are located and the proportion of them that expressed interest in conversion. Schools in more strongly Conservative constituencies are much more likely to be interested in converting. (The relationship also easily survives in multivariate analysis.)

Proportion of schools expressing an interest in converting to academy status (July 2010), by rel- ative Conservative constituency-level electoral strength in 2010

Perhaps more importantly, these expressions of interest clearly drove the same pattern in actual conversions to academy status, as well.

Proportion of schools converting to academy status (January 2013), by relative Conservative constituency-level electoral strength in 2010

There is strong evidence of a political effect from the application side, but I find no discernible political effects of the DfE decisions regarding whether to authorize conversions. (Full details in the paper.)

Meanwhile, I do find evidence that schools that find themselves in more strongly Conservative-voting constituencies but under a Labour-controlled LEA are particularly likely to convert. Conversely, schools in more strongly Labour-voting constituencies and under a Labour-controlled LEA are less likely to convert. It appears that schools may be using academy conversion as a way of avoiding “governance” from above that comes with a partisan flavor that does not fit with the more local political environment.

Predicted probability (based on )of schools (rated ‘Good’ by OFSTED) expressing interest in Academy conversion as a function of the Conservative–Labour vote share, conditional on being in a Labour-controlled LEA or not. 90% confidence intervals shown in transparent colours. Other predictors held at their sample means.

For much more detail, see the pre-publication draft of “Partisan Governance and Policy Implementation: The Politics of Academy Conversion Amongst English Schools“.

New conference paper: “Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”

September 7, 2013 § 2 Comments

I have a new paper (together with Alan Jacobs and Scott Matthews) that looks at the interaction between income inequality and vote choice in comparative perspective. This was presented at the APSA conference (Chicago, Aug/Sep 2013) at rather a good panel.

This is ongoing research, but the conference draft is available via SSRN. Comments are extremely welcome.

Here’s the abstract:

A growing literature has inquired into the political consequences of rising income inequality in the United States. Scholars have identified a number of mechanisms through which American democracy has become more responsive to the interests of the very rich than to the those of lower- and middle-class citizens. Among the patterns of unequal influence that analysts have observed is a strong “class bias in economic voting” identified by Bartels (2008). Specifically, Bartels finds that lower- and middle-class voters are far more responsive to election-year income growth among the richest Americans than they are to overall economic growth or to growth within their own income brackets. In this paper, we examine this troubling feature of U.S. electoral politics in comparative perspective, asking (i.) how widespread class biases in economic voting are in advanced democracies and (ii.) what generates them. Analyzing electoral behavior in three OECD countries (Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), we find clear evidence of class-biased economic voting with substantively important electoral consequences outside the United States. Most surprisingly, we find that the class bias is not limited to national contexts characterized by market-liberal norms and institutions. We then propose two possible mechanisms that might contribute to the class bias — an informational mechanism and an ideological mechanism — and test for their operation in the United States and Sweden. The results are highly consistent with the operation of both mechanisms in the United States and weakly suggestive of an informational effect in Sweden.

Partisan Strategy and Path Dependence: The Post-War Emergence of Health Systems in the UK and Sweden

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have a paper just published in ‘Comparative Politics’. Get your ‘official’ copy via IngentaConnect or your ‘unofficial’ copy via SSRN.

Here’s the abstract:

Why did a highly redistributive, nationalized health care system emerge in the UK, where the Left was comparatively weak, while a more redistributively neutral, cash-centric, insurance-based system was pursued in Sweden, where the Left was strong? The explanation is two fold. First, in contrast to the Swedish Social Democrats, the weakness of the British Labour Party constrained it to pursue redistribution via health policy. Second, given the redistributive goals of the National Health Service, it became imperative for the Labour Party to construct a system that would be difficult for future Conservative governments to retrench. More generally, this formulation posits rational actors operating in the kinds of processes typically studied by historical institutionalists. The result is a tendency for a type of path dependence by design.

Op-eds to consider

December 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

For those in my PO4730 class pondering what to write their op-ed assignment on, here are a few pieces that you might find inspiration from. The idea is to respond as a social scientist, of course.

Comparative data on university enrolment

November 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

We were discussing the causes of ‘market inequality’ in class today. Amongst other things, we discussed the importance of skill-biased technological change. This led some people to wonder what the comparative data looks like on higher education enrolment across countries. If there is rising demand for skilled workers, have some countries been better at meeting this demand than others?

I wondered, and so went to the Eurostat web site. From the ‘Population and social conditions’ theme, I got hold of what seems like a reasonable proxy for university enrolment figures from the ‘Education and training’ section, and then figures for the number of people in the 20-24 age cohort for each country. Taking the ratio of the two, multiplied by 100, I then calculate an (approximate) enrolment rate for each country.

Without further comment on the reliability of the calculations or what the appropriate inferences are, I offer, below, the plots for these data for the countries that seem to be of most direct interest for the class. (No population data available for the USA from Eurostat, I’m afraid. I’m sure it’s available elsewhere, but I’m not going to look for it.)

If you would like to look at the original data and/or see the Stata code that merges it and then generates the plot, try the following: pop2024.csv, unienrol.csv, and highereducation.do.

Red State, Blue State 2012 Links

November 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week was “Red State, Blue State” (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?” week in The Politics of Inequality class. Here are a few readings/listenings that bring things up to the present day:

“Pay over the last 25 years” from the ONS

November 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

(Hat tip to Mark Pack at Lib Dem Voice.)

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