Carnegie Mellon University

IPS Research Talks

The IPS SAC has organized a series of monthly research talks by faculty in the Institute for Politics and Strategy.  The talks will enable students to learn about current research topics and methodologies used in the field of political science.  Students will have the opportunity to meet faculty outside of the classroom and learn about research assistant opportunities. Refreshments are provided at each talk.


Professor Daniel Hansen

Monday, April 15, 2019

Porter Hall 223D

Deficient Democracies: The Role of Political Institutions on Financial Risk, Debt, and Financial Crises


Democracies are not only normatively desirable but are also said to create positive outcomes such as growth, reducing corruption, and providing for better access to international debt markets. Contrary to this scholarship, I argue that democratic institutions, which can impede swift adjustment to crises, suffer from serious deficiencies when the need for economic adjustment is present. Specifically, when financial risks are high, I argue that democracies have worse national credit ratings and are more likely to default on their debt obligations. Broadening the scope of this argument, I also argue that such democratic deficiencies are manifest not only with respect to debt markets, but also that democracies are more likely to experience banking crises in the presence of financial stress. Using data on up to 151 countries spanning the years 1970 to 2014, I demonstrate that democratic institutions make financial crises more likely in the presence of such economic stresses.

Professor Ignacio Arana

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Baker Hall 154R

The Quest for Uncontested Power: Presidents’ Personalities and Constitutional Change in Latin America, 1945-2012

Between 1945 and 2012, 25 presidents from 14 Western Hemisphere countries tried to change their respective constitutions to increase their powers. Despite some successful attempts helped presidents to cling to power and erode democratic norms and institutions, no previous study has examined these attempts. I argue that these attempts can be explained by the individual differences of the leaders. Building on semi-structured interviews with 21 former presidents and research on differential psychology, I propose that highly assertive and risk-taking leaders are more likely to try to increase their powers, and that these personality traits become more relevant when presidents have greater leeway to act (i.e., as a country becomes more authoritarian). I conduct discrete-time duration models to test the hypotheses on the heads of state that governed from 1945-2012. The results demonstrate that the personality traits of the leaders are a strong force behind their attempts to consolidate their power.