Since 1990, the Journal of Public and International Affairs has existed as an annual print publication, publishing excellent student work in the areas of international affairs, international development, domestic policy, and economic policy. Many of today’s most important policy debates happen online. After 30 years of print…
Something for Nothing? How Growing Rent-seeking is at the Heart of America’s Economic Troubles
May 28, 2019
The following paper studies three main questions: First, What is the association between increasing concentration and labor and profit shares? Second, is this effect different across sectors? Third, is this effect uniform across advanced economies? The paper finds that while there is a negative relationship between concentration and labor share and a positive relationship between concentration and profit share, the result is more pronounced in the United States than in similar advanced European economies. Moreover, the results are stronger for the manufacturing sector than for the services sector. The paper concludes that this evidence suggests that deviations from perfect competition are likely explained by declining competition in the U.S., whereas these secular trends, such as heterogeneous technology adoption and the declining price of capital, are more likely at play in Europe. Consequently, the paper prioritizes pre-distribution over redistribution.
Echoes of Abstention: Russian Policy in Libya and Implications for Regional Stability
May 21, 2019
Russia’s abstention from UNSCR 1973, which allowed a no-fly zone in Libya and ultimately led to the collapse of the Qadhafi regime, has resounded across both Russian foreign policy and the security environment of the Near East. Competing theories claim the abstention was either a carefully-planned strategy or a tactical miscalculation, but the result—Russian rejection of regime decapitation and Western distaste for further intervention—is easily observed. In addition to tangible military and political benefits, the chaotic and unsustainable Libyan status quo bolsters Russia’s political capital by discrediting that of the West. Although Russia is unlikely to intervene kinetically in Libya, it can passively destabilize the country at almost no cost, stymying Western efforts to end the crisis. Only by recognizing and accommodating Russia’s interests in Libya can the West negotiate a lasting settlement for Libya and secure vital U.S. interests in the region.
Effect of “Just Cause” Eviction Ordinances on Eviction in Four California Cities
May 21, 2019
The Eviction Lab’s recently released dataset of evictions in the United States provides rich opportunities for exploring the effect of state and local policies on eviction rates. Just cause eviction ordinances—local laws that outline what constitutes grounds for eviction—have gained traction as a policy solution for addressing the eviction crisis. This paper analyzes the relationship between just cause eviction ordinances and eviction rates and eviction filing rates in four California cities. A difference-in-differences matched case model suggests that there is a statistically significant, large, and negative difference between eviction rates and eviction filing rates before and after the passage of just cause eviction ordinances in the four treatment cities, as compared to the difference in these rates before and after the passage of just cause eviction ordinances in matched control cities. Cities that implemented just cause eviction laws experienced lower eviction, by 0.808 percentage points, and eviction filing rates, by 0.780 percentage points, than those that did not.
Artificial Intelligence in International Development: Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls
May 20, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon be at the center of the international development field. Amidst this transformation, there is insufficient consideration from the international development sector and the growing AI and ethics field of the unique ethical issues AI initiatives face in the development context. This paper argues that the multiple stakeholder layers in international development projects, as well as the role of third-party AI vendors, results in particular ethical concerns related to fairness and inclusion, transparency, explainability and accountability, data limitations, and privacy and security. It concludes with a series of principles that build on the information communication technology for development (ICT4D) community’s Principles for Digital Development to guide international development funders and implementers in the responsible, ethical implementation of AI initiatives.
Pirates, Boat People, and Bystanders: Contradictions at the Marine Bedrock of the International Human Rights Regime
May 20, 2019
This paper explores the high seas as a critical space for the formulation and development of international human rights law in two inter-related areas: anti-piracy campaigns and rescue of the so-called “boat people.” While the high seas have been instrumental in promoting inter-state cooperation and coordination, I argue that they have also laid bare the limits of states’ nominal commitments to rights protection. Using historical case studies of the Vietnam crisis, Haiti arrivals to the United States, and the current marine policies of Australia, I show that states too often willfully neglect their human rights obligations. In doing so, these states might succeed in protecting their short-term interests, but undermine the foundations of international human rights regimes in the long run.
Naming Terror: Impact of Proscription on Negotiations with Non-State Armed Groups
May 20, 2019
This article explores what impact terrorist blacklists have on negotiated solutions to armed conflicts involving listed non-state armed groups. Even though conflicts that involve non-state armed groups do not usually end through these groups’ military defeat, governments around the globe tend to adopt hard-security approaches with regard to inner-state conflicts. Especially when groups resort to terrorist tactics, governments tend to be reluctant to engage peacefully with these actors and instead commonly rely on terrorist blacklists in order to delegitimize and restrict groups’ activities. While these blacklists are effective in criminalizing the operations of these groups, they can also severely impede peaceful dialogue and thus negatively impact the resolution of conflicts. Especially the work of NGOs and third-party peace practitioners is greatly constrained by criminalizing any form of interaction with listed groups. Additionally, in the absence of a universal definition of what constitutes a terrorist group, lists vary from country to country and the criteria for groups and individuals to get listed are often extremely vague. Furthermore, most lists fail to re-evaluate the proscribed groups on a regular basis and delisting procedures lack transparency. This article finds that blacklists severely disincentivize peaceful engagement with non-state armed groups and thus calls for a revision of contemporary proscription regimes in order to shift the focus of counterterrorism approaches towards viewing peaceful dialogue as a first option and not a last resort.
What Should Washington Do When the Belt and Road Comes to Russia?
May 20, 2019
Increasing military and economic cooperation between Russia and China has led some to believe that America's two primary adversaries are joining together in an anti-U.S. alliance. However, this emerging relationship amounts to little more than a convenient alignment rather than a steadfast alliance. This analysis delves into emerging Sino-Russian competition and cooperation in Central Asia and the Arctic to illustrate diverging strategic interests and also provides recommendations for U.S. policymakers to capitalize on divides between America's competitors.
Capital, Inequality, and Compulsory Savings: Australia’s Superannuation System in the Context of Piketty
May 19, 2019
A fundamental aspect of economic inequality, highlighted by Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century, is the unequal distribution of capital ownership (wealth). This not only undermines the welfare of individuals with low wealth, but exacerbates the distributional consequences of a declining labor share of income. However, policy responses to wealth inequality remain underdeveloped. This paper considers how policies that increase the private savings of low- and middle-income individuals can complement more traditional taxation and redistribution approaches. As a case study, it explores the distributional effects of Australia’s superannuation system, a private retirement savings scheme that sets a compulsory minimum savings rate for all employees. Superannuation has contributed to a more equal distribution of wealth in Australia, particularly by offsetting declines in other kinds of wealth among those at the low end of the distribution. However, loopholes have also allowed high-income individuals to use the system to save in a low-tax environment. Further work is needed to investigate the effects of compulsory savings rates on those with very low incomes.
Letter from the Editors 2019
April 29, 2019