When Human Rights Pressure is Counterproductive: A Survey Experiment on Women’s Rights in China September 9, 2016 Abstract In this article I examine when international pressure on a state’s human rights conditions has counterproductive ‘backfire’ effects on public grievances. Using a survey experiment of Chinese netizens at the start of 2016. I show that when critical pressure on women’s rights in China comes from a threatening geopolitical opponent, especially when the national identity is salient, public grievances about women’s rights and willingness to petition for improvements in those rights both fall. Pressure that comes from a neutral source does not see the same negative impact. These effects are dependent on the link between the government leaders and the nation however, and can be nullified and even reversed when the pressure directly targets elites. The findings challenge one of the assumptions underlying models of human rights advocacy; that international pressure will benefit domestic efforts for change; and call for closer attention to the responses of citizens of target countries.

What is the public impact of international efforts to change regimes’ human rights behaviour? How do citizens living inside oppressive countries respond to international pressure on their government? While political scientists have found mixed evidence on whether international human rights pressure does have its intended effect on government behaviour in the short term, most accounts fail to account for how policies will impact the domestic public of the target country. Studies of naming and shaming for example examine, cross-nationally, how shaming a country in one year affects its human rights standards the following year, normally measured by changes 1

on a 1-5 scale (for example Hafner-Burton (2008), Krain (2012), Hendrix and Wong (2013), Murdie and Davis (2011), DeMeritt (2012)). These short-term behavioural measures are undoubtedly important, but the narrow approach risks overestimating brief strategic concessions and ignoring potentially longer-lasting changes in the attitude of the public in these countries. Given that the level of popular support for human rights issues in many cases has a significant impact on government policies, and that public grievances are actively built into many models of the impacts of the international human rights system, this seems a prominent oversight. Even in major authoritarian countries such as China, changes in public opinion have had a notable impact on government policy towards issues like the death penalty (Kinzelbach 2014). In this article I examine directly how members of the public respond to foreign pressure on their country’s human rights record. Foreign pressure may not be as beneficial or benign for domestic movements as some human rights theorists might assume, and I argue that its impact on the public will depend on the perceived threat from the pressure to the national identity. Critical information about human rights that comes from a ‘benign’ source may have the positive effect on public grievances that some theorists expect (Davis, Murdie, and Steinmetz 2012). However when members of the public hear condemnation that threatens their national identity, they will react defensively, strengthening their belief that human rights are good enough in their country. This will be especially likely if the information comes from a geopolitical opponent, when the national identity is salient, and for those who are particularly attached to their nation. Pressure at peaceful times from a neutral source, and pressure that does not target the nation as a whole, but instead explicitly targets the elites, will be perceived as less threatening and therefore less likely to spark a counterproductive ‘backfire’ effect on public grievances about human rights. I test my argument using an online survey experiment on women’s rights in China in early 2016, immediately following the high profile closure of a centre for women’s legal rights in Beijing, which garnered domestic and international attention (The Guardian 2016a). The experiment randomly exposed respondents to verbal pressure on women’s rights in China from either the United States, a geopolitical opponent, or the African Union, a neutral organisation and nominal ally to Beijing. It also manipulated the salience of the national identity in the respondents, by randomly exposing them to a Chinese flag, before then measuring their grievances towards women’s rights in China. The results are striking. I find that, as my theory expects, pressure from the 2

United States significantly reduces Chinese citizens’ grievances about women’s rights conditions in their country. US pressure makes respondents fourteen percentage points more likely to believe that women’s rights are respected well enough in China, as well as making them less willing to sign petitions to call for improvements; effects that are even stronger when the national identity is salient and when the respondents are more patriotic. Pressure from the African Union on the other hand sees no effects in either direction. I also show that these effects can be reversed when the pressure targets the Chinese government specifically, rather than the country as a whole - suggesting that the bind between the elites and the nation is central to the counterproductive effect of international pressure. These findings have important implications for how we think about the impacts of international pressure on human rights. Firstly, they challenge a central assumption of the literature on transnational activism - that pressure from foreign actors will dovetail with pressure from domestic actors to force changes in government behaviour. The study suggests that such a smooth interaction may be overambitious and instead that when it appears to be threatening, foreign pressure may in fact make domestic mobilisation more difficult. Secondly, the findings call for attention on how a target country’s public responds to international efforts to change behaviour on human rights. If foreign countries and organisations find success in securing prisoner releases and other short-term concessions, these are of little use without meaningful long-term policy changes, which depend strongly on societal pressures. Finally, the results demonstrate the need to look more carefully at who exerts human rights pressure. If we care about public responses, geopolitical relationships matter, and pressure from the United States on its allies is likely to be much more successful than on its competitors.

Public responses to international pressure One assumption that underlies models of human rights pressure is that information about international pressure will have a positive effect on domestic movements for change (Keck and Sikkink 1998; Risse, Ropp, and Sikkink 1999). In the models shaming influences target regimes directly, but also indirectly, providing information about abuses and foreign condemnation to the domestic public and civil society. According to Davis, Murdie, and Steinmetz (2012: 202) "dissemination of negative information about a government, is an integral part of the process by which individuals find out about government repression". Increased public knowledge of government repression and foreign opprobrium should help drive support for domestic opposition 3

groups. At the very least, a central tenet of the two most comprehensive stories of transnational activism and human rights change, known as the "boomerang" and "spiral" models, is that pressure from above and pressure from below work in tandem, foreign and domestic actors providing assistance to each other in challenging the government (Keck and Sikkink 1998; Risse, Ropp and Sikkink 1999). For Risse, Ropp and Sikkink (1999: 276), it is only when pressure comes from below as well as from outside that we can expect improvements in human rights. The literature on how domestic publics respond to international pressure on their country’s human rights is in its infancy however. The only authors to address this issue, Davis. Murdie, and Steinmetz (2012), and Ausderan (2014), have shown that the amount of shaming of a country’s rights in one year makes citizens mildly less likely to believe their government respects human rights the following year. On the other hand, some have suggested that the diplomacy of shaming may arouse anger rather than shame (Wachman 2001), and trigger a defensive nationalist backlash (Carothers 2006) in the target country. Some commentators have argued that the recent hardening of public attitudes against homosexuality in some African countries have come as a reaction against perceived interference in local cultures from Western gay rights promotion (New York Times 2015). Studies that have taken a more nuanced look at the public response to foreign interference in domestic affairs have used experimental surveys to uncover the impact of different kinds of intervention. These have suggested that as far as support for electoral candidates (Corstange and Marinov 2012) and women’s participation in politics (Bush and Jamal 2014) go, foreign intervention tends to have a polarising effect, depending on the degree of existing support for the regime; but that where the information comes from seems to make very little difference. By ‘international pressure’ I mean any attempt by foreign actors to change the behaviour of governments over human rights. Bush and Jamal (2014) focus on the impact of foreign endorsements of women’s rights in Jordan. In their experimental study respondents read that United States-funded organisations (or domestic religious leaders) "strongly supported women’s participation" and the Jordanian quota for women in parliament (Bush and Jamal 2014:5). The problem with this kind of ‘supportive’ statement is that it does not encapsulate international ‘pressure’ as we normally understand it - specifically the fact that it is often trying to change government behaviour. It is plausible that critical information designed to change a country’s human rights behaviour will provoke a qualitatively different response from members of the public to information that shows foreign support for the regime’s 4

policies. This kind of pressure is especially likely in the field of human rights, where most public actions (in particular from foreign leaders and officials) are aimed at reducing human rights violations or sparking liberalising policy changes, not least when they are directed at authoritarian regimes. These actions might include economic sanctions, military threats or pleas to adhere to rulings of international human rights organisations. In this study I examine the most basic kind of international pressure - criticism and calls to improve human rights conditions. For now, I leave it open whether supplementary military threats and sanctions will change this effect1 .

Motivated Reasoning My theory draws on the social psychological literature that people are motivated to defend their collective identities2 . According to motivated reasoning, people do not just strive to form accurate opinions, but are motivated to form opinions that preserve their positive view of themselves, their self-esteem. Since one’s group identity - like being a Republican in America- is an important part of how people define and value themselves (Tajfel 1979), people will be motivated to ensure that that collective identity is not threatened. If they hear information that goes against the dominant belief in their groups, or threatens their group identity in some way, then they will be motivated to defend themselves and resist this new information, in order to protect their personal wellbeing. As Sherman and Cohen (2006:36) argue: "people will defend against threats to collective aspects of the self much as they defend against threats to individual or personal aspects of self". These threats might include evidence that their group has done something wrong, or even that it is under direct 1

I also focus on ‘shaming’ - the criticism of abuses, rather than ‘naming’ - the detailing of specific abuses themselves. As ‘naming and shaming’ suggests, the naming of abuses is invariably accompanied by criticism, and so it should be noted that information about specific violations that might accompany this criticism would most likely lead to different responses than shaming alone. There are design reasons for this choice. In an experiment of this sort, providing generic information about an instance of foreign criticism allows more generalisability about responses to criticism. Specific information naturally differs from case to case in its evidential value and novelty, making it hard to extend beyond the information used. News about international pressure on human rights also often focuses on the shaming aspect. In Spring 2016 for example, some of the most prominent media information about foreign pressure on human rights came from the United States’ country reports, which were reported with broad strokes in national and international media, with little detail about any specific violations reported within (for example Channel NewsAsia (2016), The Guardian (2016b)) 2 See Kunda (1990)

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attack. Taber and Lodge (2006) call this ‘motivated skepticism’; and show that when people encounter information that goes against their prior beliefs or challenges their group identity, they will be more likely to reject the information. An assumption of my theory is that international pressure on their country’s human rights situation may serve as a direct threat to people’s national identity. Not only does pressure contains information that suggests the nation does not respect human rights, but it also passes on information that other countries or organisations disapprove of the nation and its leaders’ actions and are trying to interfere with how the country is run. By directly attacking the nation’s behaviour, suggesting that it is not as ‘good’ as it might be, and pressurising it to change, this serves as a threat to the collective identity. When citizens hear news that the United Nations has passed a resolution criticising their country’s treatment of its minority groups, the news may make them feel ‘under attack’, and also challenge their identity of themselves as a benevolent and respected people in international society. And as a result they are motivated to defend themselves against that threat, causing them to reject the criticism. If critical information comes from an outgroup, (as in the case of international human rights pressure), people may be even more likely to reject it. The ‘intergroup sensitivity effect’ is the "tendency for group-directed criticisms to be received in a more defensive way when they stem from outgroup members than when the same comments are made by ingroup members" (Hornsey 2005: 303). It is worth noting that this effect appears to be primarily limited to critical information; information that threatens the group identity (people are no more likely to believe messages of praise from ingroups than outgroups), which leads Hornsey and colleagues to argue that group-based criticisms are a "unique subset of persuasive messages in the sense that they directly threaten the (collective) self-concept" (Hornsey, Trembath and Gunthorpe 2004:501). This lends support to my assumption that there may be something qualitatively different about the public response to critical international pressure that distinguishes it from the response to foreign endorsements of regime policies in Bush and Jamal’s (2014) study. I argue that members of the public may not just reject international pressure, but end up believing more strongly that their country respects human rights. This is what studies of attitude change call a ‘boomerang’ or ‘backfire’ effect3 - when a message that is designed to change attitudes or behaviours in a certain direction ends 3

As not to confuse with Keck and Sikkink’s ‘Boomerang model’, I use the ‘backfire’ terminology

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up pushing those attitudes or behaviours in the opposite direction (Byrne and Hart 2009) - a phenomenon noted in areas from anti-litter campaigns (Reich and Robertson 1979) to climate change (Hart and Nisbet 2011). Nyhan and Reiffler (2010) show that when conservative Americans were presented with evidence showing that President Bush‘s statements about Iraqi possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in 2004 were in fact false, they became even more confident in their misperceptions, ending up more likely to believe that Saddam Hussein was in fact stockpiling WMDs. Nyhan and Reiffler argue4 that this may be because, in seeing information that goes against their strongly-held beliefs and political identities, conservative Americans then spend time generating arguments that might counter this information, and as a consequence strengthen their beliefs. Just as conservative Americans strengthened their beliefs that Hussein was stockpiling WMDs following information to the contrary, I argue that following critical information about human rights violations in their country, members of the public will (under certain circumstances) strengthen their beliefs that their country’s human rights are good enough. This is because when hearing information that threatens their national identity, people do not only reject the information, but are motivated to create counter-arguments, searching their memory for evidence that their country does not violate human rights to defend themselves against the threat. As long as there is some information available to be found, this creates a backfire effect and grievances about human rights go down.

When will the backfire effect be more likely? So far this does not tell us too much about public responses to international pressure, just that it has the potential to lead to a backfire effect. Clearly, however, many people do respond as naming and shaming theorists suggest- they hear information that human rights are being abused in their country and they update their beliefs about human rights conditions. How do we know which of these opposing effects will predominate? Under what circumstances will the backfire occur? In simple terms, my theory implies that the backfire effect should be greatest when people’s sense of threat to their national identity is highest, when the desire to defend their collective identity is disproportionately powerful. I hypothesise that this will occur under the following circumstances: 4

Following Byrne and Hart (2009)

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Source Pressure is more likely to appear to be much more threatening to the national identity when it comes from groups whose intentions are perceived to be hostile to the nation than when it comes from those whose intentions are seen as benign or constructive. In the case of human rights pressure, foreign groups may appear to be driven purely by interstate competition or long-lasting hatreds. Citizens of the Soviet Union would have been far more likely to perceive criticism of their homeland to be a hostile Cold War tactic pushed by an attempt to denigrate the country if it came from the United States than if it came from an ally like Cuba. Indeed Chinese officials often respond to pressure from the United States on their human rights record by arguing that the West is trying to ‘stop China’s rise’ (Xinhua 2016) - driven by the realist desire for geopolitical superiority rather than the Chinese people’s welfare. Moreover, the more hostile human rights pressure appears to be, the more likely it appears to be attacking the nation, then the more likely people will feel the need to defend their country against the pressure. US criticism of the Soviet Union needs a repost; Cuban criticism does not. Hornsey (2005) argues that similar mechanisms lie behind the intergroup sensitivity effect; people believe that out-groups will have hostile intentions towards their group, and are therefore more likely to reject their criticism. One main cause of perceived hostility will be the current geopolitical relationship between the source nation or organisation and the target nation; people will perceive their nation’s geopolitical opponents to be more hostile in its intentions. When pressure come from geopolitical opponents, members of the public are likely to see it through the lens of international competition, heightening the sentiment that the nation is under attack, the need to defend the national identity. When pressure comes from a neutral or allied source, the threatened national identity figures much less prominently. Hypothesis 1: International pressure on a country’s human rights will be more likely to reduce public grievances about human rights conditions when it comes from a geopolitical opponent National identity If the perceived threat theory is correct, we would expect those with the strongest national attachment to feel most threatened by pressure on their nation. This effect should not just work on the individual level however. As the national identity becomes more salient, people will be more aware of the threat to the nation, and more likely to be motivated to defend it and create counter-arguments to critical 8

information. This means that as overall public nationalism increases - for example when there are international disputes - pressure on should be more likely to have a negative effect. At these times the public is not only more likely to be emotionally invested in their nation, but also more likely to encounter flags and other national symbols. Hypothesis 2a: International pressure on a country’s human rights will be more likely to reduce public grievances about human rights conditions in those with a greater attachment to their nation Hypothesis 2b: International pressure on a country’s human rights will be more likely to reduce public grievances about human rights conditions when the national identity is salient Target If we believe that the backfire effect comes from a defensive reaction to a threat to the national identity, then pressure that does not target the nation as a whole should be less threatening, and therefore have less of a negative effect on grievances. If pressure were to only to focus on government elites and their policies in violating human rights and explicitly distinguish between the elites and the nation, then members of the country’s public should be less likely to feel that their nation is under attack, and be able to reaffirm their belief that it cares about human rights. They can shift the blame to the elites, who have been decoupled from the nation, and assess the critical message on its own merits. Hypothesis 3: International pressure on a country’s human rights will be less likely to reduce public grievances about human rights conditions when it explicitly addresses the elites of the country Alternative hypotheses I test these hypotheses against three main alternatives. The first, the ‘informational’ view, is the null hypothesis, that as predicted by the literature, when citizens hear information about condemnation of their country’s women’s rights situation, their grievances increase. The second, the ‘backlash’ view, predicts that all pressure should be rejected equally, no matter the source or the timing. One final view, which does not necessarily conflict with my own theory, is Bush and Jamal’s ‘cues’ approach. This argues that in autocracies citizens interpret support for a regime’s policies as ‘cueing’ support for the regime itself - and therefore will reject or accept the endorsement based on their feelings about the regime. Under 9

this view, no treatments should have any absolute effect, but instead polarise the respondents according to their level of support for the regime. All pressure should make regime supporters see their country’s human rights conditions as better and opponents see the conditions as worse than the control.

Research Method and Case Selection China I test these hypotheses using an experimental survey of international pressure on women’s rights in China. Since the 4th of June 1989, when Deng Xiaoping’s government cracked down on protestors in Tiananmen Square, and across the country, the international human rights regime has singled out China for intense scrutiny. China has faced regular public invocations from Western leaders, parliaments and congresses, media and NGOs, and the UN over its human rights conditions. However while many have noted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tactic of strategically releasing a few prominent prisoners when the eyes of the world’s media have been on them (International Business Times 2015), evidence of underlying change is less promising. In contrast, in recent years the CCP has become notably more intolerant of dissent; tightening laws on civil society and arresting human rights lawyers enmasse. This has been called by some ‘China’s new age of fear’ (Foreign Policy 2016). Moreover, despite continued repression and international efforts through the 1990s to publicly shame China, in 2001 the Chinese public had the second most positive perception of human rights conditions in their country of the countries surveyed (see Table 15 ). China is therefore an important and challenging case to test the impact of shaming on the public. Despite the powerful censorship apparatus, some information about this foreign pressure has reached the public. On one side there have been ways of reaching around the firewall to access foreign news; from the opening up in the 1980s, information from foreign sources has found its way through in some forms, from those who could understand some English and listen to the Voice of America to more recently those have access to a good VPN to access foreign websites (Time 2013). On the other side, Chinese media have actively reported on instances of foreign criticism. Even in the internet-free land of the early 1990s for example, the state-owned People’s Daily 5

This table does not take into account how different countries’ citizens interpret these questions in different ways (see King and Wand 2007). However even given these differences the table is notable, not least in showing that huge international attention has failed to convince Chinese citizens that their rights are not well respected, however they interpret the question

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Table 1: Human Rights Perceptions 2000 - 2004

Country Canada China Philippines Sweden United States Jordan Bangladesh Egypt Iran Saudi Arabia Uganda Tanzania India Nigeria Spain Japan Indonesia Chile South Africa Pakistan Venezuela Mexico Peru Iraq Morocco Albania Algeria Zimbabwe Macedonia Turkey Argentina

Respect For Human Rights in Country (% say positive -% say negative6 ) 66 64 58 50 48 46 44 43 41 41 40 38 34 25 24 23 22 13 11 7 -3 -4 -10 -15 -23 -25 -27 -33 -36 -41 -55

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Total Newsweek/ Economist Articles on Human Rights from 1990 - 20007 4 53 8 5 72 5 9 18 20 36 7 7 29 19 12 12 57 23 19 23 7 16 27 19 27 14 15 20 8 43 8

felt obliged to comment on the United Nations draft resolution on human rights in China in March 1993 (People’s Daily 1993). Women’s Rights I focus on the issue of women’s rights for three reasons. International and domestic attention on women’s rights in China has increased dramatically since March 2015, when five feminist activists were arrested and held without trial for a month. Condemnations poured forth from the US (Irish Times 2015), Europe and Asia (Reuters 2015), and even after their release on bail (Foreign Policy 2015) continued unabated throughout the year. A few months later, on Twitter, Hillary Clinton called Xi Jinping ‘shameless’ for hosting a forum in New York that celebrated twenty years of progress in women’s rights. Chinese state media reported widely on her tweet (Global Times 2015), which was debated on social media. Some welcomed the comments, saying that they reflecting the frustration many felt with the lack of progress since 1995 (China Change 2016), while others criticised Clinton, viewing her comments as deliberate attacks on China (Lowy Interpreter 2015). Women’s rights were therefore a prominent issue in China at the time of the survey. Secondly, if China is a ‘likely’ case for a defensive response to pressure, then women’s rights is China is its least-likely version. While the Chinese authorities have denigrated Western ideas about civil rights since the 1990s, women’s rights have been an area in which, historically, foreign intervention has been broadly seen as having positive effects. At the end of the Qing Dynasty, foreign missionaries played a role in ensuring the dissolution of the 1000-year practice of footbinding, working closely with Chinese reformers (Drucker 1981), while since the 1990s funding and ideas from Western feminist groups allowed women’s rights activists to become far more effective (Zheng 1997). The CCP has, since its inception, portrayed itself as a liberator of women8 , and as a result party propaganda can ill afford to condemn support for women’s rights. Finally, research ethics played an important role in the choice of women’s rights. The research environment at the best of times in China prohibits surveys of sensitive areas of human rights, and this is especially the case in the last few years. There is an obligation to respondents to ensure that they are not asked any questions where their answers may potentially put them at risk. women’s rights is an issue that, as mentioned, the CCP has been particularly supportive of throughout its history, and is therefore relatively freely discussed in academic institutes and on traditional and 8

See for example Mao (1950)

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social media. This relative freedom also means that social censure is less of a concern in the survey, and in previous surveys Chinese citizens have generally not been afraid to show dissatisfaction over gender equality - in a recent Gender in China survey for example 73% of women were dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with the status of women in the country9 . Social desirability should also not affect how participants respond to the experimental manipulations - the source of pressure or the presence of the Chinese flag.

Experimental Research Design This study uses an online experimental survey, conducted in Chinese during February 2016. The survey was carried out just after the closure of the Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counselling and Service Centre, run by Guo Jianmei, under ‘pressure’ from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (The Guardian 2016c). The high profile legal aid NGO had symbolised the growth in women’s rights in China since the 1990s, and the closure again saw international condemnation; Hillary Clinton tweeting: "Women’s rights are human rights. This centre should remain - I stand with Guo" (The Washington Post 2016). The closure of the centre, and Clinton’s response were both reported in the Global Times (Global Times 2016). As such, domestic awareness of women’s rights issues and the international interest was comparatively high. The survey was conducted with a online sample of 1200 Chinese people from across the country; using the Qualtrics survey provider and Qualtrics’ panel providers in China. For age and gender, respondent numbers were weighted to match the distribution in the overall population. With the exception of these demographics, the sample more closely resembles the online population - richer, more well-educated and urban - than the overall Chinese population10 , but was drawn from almost all provinces and walks of life. While we should not neglect these demographic differences, the better-educated urban population is likely to be more politically active than those in China’s poorer rural areas. The online population (almost 50% of the population in mid-2015 (China Internet Watch 2015)) are arguably the most likely to pick up on foreign comments about China, and some have argued that amongst the middle class in China, political and civil society participation is now more likely to be online (Yang 2009). Finally, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, a face-to-face 9 10

http://www.genderwatch.cn:801/detail.jsp?fid=305288&cnID=90050 Discussed in appendix 1

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nationally representative survey would have faced ethical problems and also be less likely to reveal honest answers than an anonymous online questionnaire. The experimental design allows us to isolate instances of foreign shaming of China’s human rights conditions and examine directly how small variations affect the public. The experiment involved randomly exposing respondents to brief information about foreign pressure on women’s rights in China, randomly assigning both the source of pressure and manipulating the salience of the national identity, in a 3 x 2 factorial design11 . Source of pressure Respondents were assigned to one of three groups, a control group, who were given no prompt, and two treatment groups who were asked to read a short paragraph taken from a recent news item, as follows: Treatment 1: Yesterday a United States spokeswoman criticised China’s women’s rights conditions. She said: "The Chinese government must improve the rights of women in China" Treatment 2: Yesterday an African Union spokeswoman criticised China’s women’s rights conditions. She said: "The Chinese government must improve the rights of women in China" The United States is currently seen as a major geopolitical opponent of China12 , and has been historically in varying degrees since the Communist Revolution in 1949. The African Union is at worst a neutral actor for the Chinese people, and at best a long-lasting geopolitical ally. Since the Maoist period, Beijing has portrayed itself as the leader of the developing world, received broad support from African countries in its fight against UN human rights resolutions in the 1990s, and even in recent months the People’s Daily described the relationship as ‘friendly’ and "a community of mutual support" (People’s Daily 2015). The Chinese government has been a major aid supplier and investor in a number of African Union member states (Zafar 2007). National Identity 11

The randomisation procedure was successful, as discussed in appendix 2, Table 8. There are no statistically-significant differences in demographic variables or in the pre-treatment attitudinal questions, with the exception of education, which is minimally significant at the 10% level 12 Alongside Japan - although human rights criticism rarely comes from Tokyo

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No Flag

Flag

Table 2: 3 x 2 experimental design United States African Union No Pressure Pressure Pressure No nationalism No nationalism X X Control Hostile source Non-hostile source Nationalism Nationalism X X Nationalism only Hostile source Non-hostile source

The second condition involves the manipulation of the salience of the national identity in the respondents. The control received no prompt, while the treatment group received a small Chinese flag (measuring 1" x 0.5") placed in the top right-hand corner of the screen when answering outcome questions. Scholars in political psychology have used national flags as a way of increasing the salience of the ‘nation’ in respondents; for example Schatz and Lavine (2007:332) argue that national symbols "uniquely accentuate citizens’ identification as national members". The Chinese flag is frequently associated with times when China is engaged in international disputes; it was, for example almost ubiquitous in the mass-anti-Japan protests held in 2012. After receiving the treatments, respondents were then questioned on their beliefs about women’s rights in China. For the main outcome variable respondents were asked for their level of agreement with the statement "At present women’s rights in China are not good enough" (on a four-point scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’). Three questions, for robustness, then tested different measures of respect for women’s rights in China. The second block measured respondents’ attitudes towards women’s rights (on employment, education, and gender stereotypes), which were combined into one ‘attitude’ variable13 . These questions are listed in full in the supplementary materials14 . Finally, in a survey like this it is difficult to see how grievances about women’s rights might translate into attempts to do something about them. I therefore included a question asking whether respondents would be willing to sign a petition calling for improvements in women’s rights (of course willingness to sign does not 13

These responses were highly correlated, so show internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.7815) 14 As are summary statistics for control groups

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mean people actually would sign). In China petitions are a historically-common way in which social grievances have been presented to local and central governments there were 6.4 million petitions between January and October 2013 (China Daily 2014). I normalise all of these outcome variables, to measure change from the control group. I also make an initial test of my hypothesis 3. For those four groups who received information about pressure earlier in the survey, at the end I include a further sentence that continues the news story. It reads: "The spokeswoman continued: "Although the Chinese people have continuously struggled for women’s rights, it is the Chinese government that has not ensured women’s rights are good enough in recent years"". Respondents were then asked again about their grievances on women’s rights in China. How do the hypotheses map onto these experimental tests? From H1 I expect that the backfire effect will be mainly limited to those who received pressure from the United States - and that those who received pressure from the African Union will show little negative effect in comparison. H2a suggests that this effect will be largest in those with higher national pride, while H2b suggests that it will be larger in the conditions when respondents are also given a Chinese flag. Finally, from my H3, I would expect that after hearing the second passage that emphasises criticism is only directed at the elites, respondents will have stronger grievances about women’s rights.

Results I find little support for either the informational or the backlash hypotheses, that overall pressure has an aggregate positive or negative effect on grievances about women’s rights15 . However when we split up the pressure by source there is a notable impact. When it comes from the United States (in the absence of any flag treatment), the average treatment effec (ATE) is -0.244 (p=0.02); meaning that people hearing pressure from this source have significantly lower grievances about women’s rights. Grievances following pressure from the African Union on the other hand are statistically indistinguishable from no pressure16 . This provides strong support for my hypothesis 1; that pressure from a geopolitical opponent, the United States, has a 15 16

When excluding the flag, average treatment effect (ATE) = -0.12, p=0.19 ATE=-0.003, p=0.98

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much more negative impact on grievances in comparison to a neutral foreign actor, the African Union, with an ATE for the difference between the two treatments of -0.247, (p=0.021). Figure 1 demonstrates these effects.

Figure 1: Influence of treatments on grievances over women’s rights (higher score means higher grievances, dotted line is control) National attachment also appears to have an impact on grievances. I find that in the absence of pressure, those respondents who saw a Chinese flag had significantly lower grievances (ATE = -0.239, p=0.021). The flag treatment effect holds across all conditions17 . However in the pressure conditions, while still having a positive effect, the results were non-significant18 . This suggests that the interactive effect I describe in hypothesis 2b, where national attachment makes pressure even more counterproductive, does not hold. Instead, it has an additive effect to the negative impact of pressure from the United States; an ATE of -0.354 (p<0.001). The backfire effect, as 17 18

ATE = -0.144, p=0.018 US ATE= -0.109, p=0.296; AU ATE= -0.082, p=0.444

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predicted in hypothesis 2a, is strongest in those with higher pride: but only in the non-flag condition (for the interaction with pride F=4.69, p=0.031).

Figure 2: Interaction effect: ‘high’ national pride refers to national pride greater than the mean (Above 7 on a 1-10 scale)

These results also, to some extent, translate into behaviours - the willingness to sign a petition for women’s rights. US pressure makes respondents less willing to sign the petition in comparison to the control (ATE = -0.268, p=0.015) and in comparison to AU criticism 19 , while AU criticism itself has no effect20 . Exposure to the Chinese flag has a minimal and non-significant effect in all cases. I find surprisingly strong support for my hypothesis 3; that when pressure only targets the elites it will be less likely to reduce grievances about women’s rights. A secondary prompt saying that the initial pressure was targeted at the Chinese 19 20

ATE=-0.337, p=0.002 ATE=0.069, p=0.50

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government not the people significantly increased grievances with women’s rights in comparison to full pressure from the US, as shown in Figure 3. In this case the extra prompt increased grievances with an average treatment effect of 0.219 (p=0.007) against the initial ’full’ pressure, while when the US pressure was accompanied by a flag, the prompt increased grievances with ATE=0.446 (p<0.0001). Indeed, in this condition the prompt significantly increased grievances about women’s rights against the control group (ATE=0.172, p=0.029)21 .

Figure 3: Influence of foreign pressure on grievances about women’s rights, when criticism addresses elites only or the whole country

Robustness checks It is possible that the fall in grievances displayed above may come not from changes 21

This is complicated by the fact that the wording of the question following the second prompt was slightly different from the first. In the control group, the mean reversed score for the first question: "At present China’s women’s rights situation is not good enough" is 2.57, while the mean score for the second question: "At present China’s women’s rights situation is good enough" is 2.65. I standardised the second question for all groups by adding the difference to each answer

19

in respondents’ beliefs about how well China respects women’s rights, as suggested in my theory - but instead from reducing how much respondents care about women’s rights. Figure 4 of composite attitudes towards women’s rights suggests that this is not the case. If anything, pressure from the United States strengthens support for women’s rights in China, albeit only weakly22 . Pressure from the African Union significantly strengthens support (without flag, ATE=0.194 (p=0.048); with flag, ATE=0.231 (p=0.019)).

Figure 4: Influence of treatments on attitudes to women’s rights (normalised, higher is more liberal)

I also test three other measures of ‘respect’ for women’s rights in China. The response to the question ‘Are women’s rights respected in China?’ was very similar to the main dependent variable, as shown in appendix 3. The other two measures however showed weaker effects. US pressure and the flag both had significant, but lower negative effects on responses to ‘In most respects, the Chinese government 22

For non-flag, ATE=0.155 (p=0.11); for flag, ATE=0.129 (p=0.19)

20

has already done enough to improve women’s rights’23 , but their combination was non-significant. The final question was issue-specific, and asked for responses to the statement "In China, men’s and women’s education opportunities are not equal". While the pattern was the same as the main dependent variable, the effect sizes were much smaller, with only the combination of US pressure and the flag significant24 . The mixed results could be explained by the fact that the questions bring in external factors about the education system and previous government behaviour rather than purely current grievances about women’s rights. The findings about reduced willingness to sign petitions could potentially be explained not just by reduced grievances about women’s rights, but by a lower willingness to sign petitions in general. To control for this I created a measure for the difference between willingness to sign a petition for women’s rights and the willingness to sign a petition against women’s rights. The results are similar, albeit with smaller effect sizes25 . For interactive effects, I find in the US-no flag condition that the results are mainly driven by citizens who are satisfied with the regime26 and distrust the US government27 - but also those who are university-educated28 and have a positive attitude towards the United States as a whole29 . These effects do not exist for pressure from the African Union and generally disappear in the flag condition. I also find no interactive effects by awareness of international news - this suggests that those more aware of the recent criticism by Hillary Clinton were not biased by this knowledge. There were no other significant interactions with any other pre-treatment questions, including by age or gender. 23

For US pressure only, ATE=0.225, p<0.05 ATE=-0.207, p=0.037 25 The ATE for US pressure without flag is -0.145 (p=0.166) against the control, while for US pressure with flag was -0.221 (p=0.03). See appendix 3 26 F=4.15, p=0.04 27 F=7.89, p=0.005 28 F=5.19, p=0.023 29 F=6.33, p=0.012 24

21

Discussion My findings show that pressure from the United States has a backfire effect, significantly reducing grievances about women’s rights in China. Pressure that comes from a neutral or allied source, the African Union, has no negative effect on grievances. This provides support for my argument that members of the public respond to the level of perceived threat to their national identity when forming grievances about human rights. Findings about national identity lend cautious support to this argument. The backfire effect is strongest in those who are more attached to their nation and when the national identity is salient. This effect appears to be additive rather than interactive however, in contrast to my predictions. The finding may come from the fact that foreign pressure is itself likely to raise nationalism in members of the Chinese public, such that the flag treatment will itself have diminishing returns. The results also show that even in the absence of foreign pressure, exposure to a Chinese flag decreased grievances on women’s rights. This is a notable result, as it demonstrates that increases in symbolic nationalism do have a causal effect on lowering grievances about human rights, rather than merely a correlation. It suggests that government ’flag-waving’ in the face of domestic unrest - for example playing up national celebrations or sparking international disputes - might actually work in increasing satisfaction with the regime. Who is more likely to be affected? My results also generally support those of Bush and Jamal (2014), that respondents who favour the regime will respond more negatively to criticism of their government’s policies. However a cue-based theory also implies that regime opponents should accept criticism (as supporters reject it), yet my results show that those who are not satisfied with the regime have no corresponding positive response. This supports the conclusion that foreign pressure leads to a backfire effect rather than polarisation. The negative impact also only comes in the case of a hostile foreign source, but not when the source is a neutral actor. Chinese regime supporters may still disagree with criticism from the African Union, but it does not push them to become more satisfied with women’s rights30 ; this effect only appears when the source is the US. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not just CCP supporters who react negatively. Those 30

If anything the interaction works in the opposite direction - those more satisfied with the regime are less likely to show a backfire effect

22

most affected are highly patriotic, but are also generally well educated and internationally oriented. These are groups commonly associated with a more liberal demographic (and indeed in the control, these groups are more likely to believe that women’s rights are not good enough in China). In other words, those most affected by the US pressure are those who are satisfied with their regime and proud of their country, but are more liberal and more likely to believe (before hearing about pressure) that women’s rights need to be improved. These results are surprising on the face of it, since more liberal respondents should hold stronger existing grievances about women’s rights, which they should be interested in preserving. However the results do also fit a motivated reasoning argument, since people should value women’s rights in some form first to feel threatened by criticism of those rights. I split the outcome variable into a binary one for those who believe women’s rights to be good enough versus those who believe they are not good enough. US pressure makes respondents significantly more likely to believe rights are ‘good enough’ than ‘not good enough’ (against the control, ATE=0.144, p=0.004). It not just strengthens the satisfaction of those already pleased with their regime, but also actively shifts people across the divide, from dissatisfaction about women’s rights to satisfaction. Seen in this light, the results are particularly worrying - as US pressure does not just strengthen the resolve of people who are already satisfied with the standard of women’s rights, but persuades people who might otherwise have opposed government policies to instead support them. A final finding that lends strong support to my theory of perceived hostility is the interaction between pre-treatment trust in the United States government and pressure from the United States. I argued that negative responses to pressure are driven to some extent by the belief that the United States is a hostile power with ulterior motives. I do not ask this question directly, but find that those who distrust the US government (5 or below on a 1-10 scale) are significantly more likely to have fewer grievances about women’s rights having heard pressure from the US (by a value as high as ATE=0.55: see figure 5). It is worth noting that almost all of these interactive effects disappear once people are exposed to a Chinese flag. In this condition, people more or less uniformly reject US pressure and have lower grievances about women’s rights. This suggests that one main impact of increasing symbolic nationalism is to bring everybody together around one position. This supports the psychological literature on symbolic nationalism, which argues that exposure to national symbols converges people’s attitudes 23

Figure 5: Interaction of trust in US government and United States pressure on grievances about women’s rights, when no nationalism

towards that of a ‘typical citizen’ (Hassin, Ferguson, Kardosh, Porter, Carter, and Dudareva 2009) - in this case one who rejects foreign pressure on their nation. Perhaps the most striking results are on the impact of pressure that explicitly targets the Chinese government elites over women’s rights, as opposed to the whole country. This criticism aims to break down the link between the governing CCP and the nation itself, to reduce the perceived threat to the nation from foreign shaming. I find that when United States pressure on women’s rights in China is supplemented to say that it targets only the CCP elites, and not the people, the counterproductive effects vanish. And in conditions where the national identity is salient, US pressure increases grievances in the Chinese public (see Figure 6). My results imply that when the United States puts pressure on China as a whole nation, the pressure and the presence of the Chinese flag together evoke a defen-

24

Figure 6: Impact of target of pressure on grievances, when national identity salient sive nationalism, which leads members of the public to reject negative comments about women’s rights. However when the pressure explicitly splits up the regime and the public, my findings suggest that nationalism becomes directed inwards at self-improvement. This recalls Liah Greenfeld’s (1995) distinction between ‘authoritarian’ nationalism - nationalism that subsumes the interests of the group to the elite’s wishes - and ‘liberal’ nationalism - nationalism that emphasises fighting for the nation in order to ensure the rights of the people. The results here suggest that if pressure can spark liberal nationalism, or come at a time when liberal nationalism is more prominent, then it may have a positive effect in the public, something to be tested further in future studies. The study’s effects are substantial. When the scale is translated into those who believe rights are good enough versus those who believe they are not good enough (regardless of strength of belief), US pressure makes people 28.6% more likely to say that they believe rights are good enough (or an increase in 14 percentage points). If the national identity is primed, US pressure makes people 37.7% more likely (18.5 percentage points), while for those with higher than average levels of patriotism, US pressure on its own makes people 42.3% more likely (around 20.5 percentage points). Lower grievances also make people less willing to sign petitions for women’s rights.

25

Pressure from the United States decreases the likelihood of signing a petition by 0.268, a difference that is over half that of the gender gap (ATE=0.47). It makes people 32% less likely to say they will sign a petition (around 10 percentage points). Pressure from the African Union on the other hand has no impact on either grievances or willingness to sign. AU pressure does however make people more likely to believe in rights for women. Again this impact is sizeable - pressure on women’s rights in China by the African Union liberalises attitudes by 0.231 - almost identical to the difference in beliefs between men and women. Support for women’s rights overall (on an adjusted scale) is around 36.1% higher in this condition (or 15 percentage points). This is an unexpected finding, given the well-established difficulties in the psychological literature of changing attitudes, especially from outgroups, and is also something to be analysed further in future.

Conclusion and Implications Pressure that comes from a geopolitical opponent and that comes at a time in which the target country is involved in an international dispute will be much more likely to have a counterproductive ‘backfire’ effect on public grievances about human rights. In the China case this suggests that intense pressure from the United States on China’s human rights since the 1990s may have helped contribute to the public perception that the CCP was respecting human rights, and even to the failure to achieve long-lasting change. The prognosis is not completely negative however. Pressure from a neutral source has no negative effects on grievances. It may be, of course, that Chinese people simply do not care about the African Union enough for its criticism to be listened to - the most we can say here is that it does not have any obvious negative impacts (and public interviews suggest that in fact contrary to expectation a more ’positive’ source may have been the United Nations). The information was not entirely ignored however, since pressure also appeared to increase how much members of the public valued women’s rights. Pressure that does come from a geopolitical opponent in times of heightened nationalism does have the potential for positive changes; increasing grievances about human rights when it explicitly targets elites and not the nation as a whole. The question is whether the kind of message used in the survey is likely to reach the public when censorship is high. In authoritarian countries, while state media may report on US pressure on its human rights, it will generally seek to frame the message in as favourable a way as possible. However the theory suggests 26

that it is not just the phrasing of the criticism that matters, but the relationship between elites and public that it targets. In other words, if the elites are not seen to be properly representative of the nation as a whole then foreign pressure may have a positive effect. Future work could test this further by examining the impacts of foreign pressure at times when the government appears to be giving in or making concessions to foreign powers. In China’s state-owned media, pressure from the United States on human rights has been linked heavily with a desire to prevent China’s rise. As noted, this makes it something of a most-likely case for this kind of analysis. Yet this kind of propaganda is used regularly in many authoritarian regimes, from Russia (The Washington Post 2015) to the Middle East (Jamal 2012). As such a lot of countries that are most often targeted for human rights pressure (and where it most often fails) are ‘most likely cases’. For those cases where this kind of rhetoric is used less often, the impacts are less clear; although it seems probable that government propaganda is not essential for people to believe that pressure from a geopolitical opponent is driven by interstate competition. While the effect size might be smaller, the mechanisms involved should be the same. The choice of women’s rights (a topic where this kind of propaganda is far less prevalent) should also help to allay these fears. One other concern might be on the nature of the experimental survey itself and its stylised form. Can we really argue that this kind of manipulation truly represents exposure to foreign pressure over time, and that a snap judgment about the state of women’s rights in China represents a long-term grievance about human rights conditions? Probably not - but this kind of focused experimental study helps to direct attention to the mechanisms involved in public reactions to pressure, and provides much-needed building blocks to larger scale qualitative studies31 . While the timescales involved in forming a response are short, the effects are large, especially since the prompt itself is so small. In China, the public will have built up a long history of western pressure on their human rights behaviour, which presumably would multiply the effects from one prompt. It is plausible however that while people may reject criticism immediately after hearing it, that after repeatedly hearing the same comments they reluctantly come to accept the information. The study here does not address this concern. Future work should look at long-term impacts of repeated exposure to these kinds of comments, and whether they have led to any behavioural changes32 . 31 32

For example by Jetschke (1999) Admittedly this is difficult in the current climate in China

27

A linked issue is that respondents may just be giving an immediate angry reaction, defensively refuting the pressure - but do not truly believe that women’s rights are better. This would mean that the study is not measuring changing views, but brief annoyance, an objection again difficult to refute definitively without long-term analyses. It is conceivable however that such short-term emotional reactions do have a longer-term effect, as they become implicitly associated with the issue of human rights. Moreover if people were just giving superficial ‘reactions’ to criticism then we might expect them to also show a defensive reaction over values towards women’s rights, rejecting equal opportunities as a western tool. Yet instead of superficially dismissing the issue, it made people appear to care more about women’s rights, suggesting that at least some were thinking more deeply about the issue. In interviews carried out by the author on women’s rights in China, there was certainly some evidence of interviewees instinctively and emotionally dismissing China’s women’s rights problems out of hand having heard pressure from the United States. However there was also evidence that others did take in the criticism and consider what it meant for women’s rights. A number sought to justify why, even given this criticism, women’s rights were still well respected in China, pointing to other achievements, progress, or comparisons with other nations. The study redirects attention to how a target country’s public responds to the international efforts to change behaviour on human rights, and challenges commonlyheld views about the relationship between international pressure ‘from above’ and domestic pressure ‘from below’. According to these views, foreign shaming, threats, and sanctions impose costs on governments directly, but also indirectly by working in tandem with and providing support to domestic movements. Some scholars have advocated for a ‘comprehensive approach’, which calls for a combination of these direct and indirect efforts - attacking the elites from above as well as encouraging the inculcation of broader public norms (Cardenas 2004; Burgerman 2001). The results here however challenge the assumption that international pressure will invariably have a positive impact for domestic groups, and that foreign and international efforts will work in tandem to change government behaviour. Instead they suggest that under some conditions, foreign pressure will make domestic groups’ efforts more difficult, by reducing the likelihood that members of their public will support their cause and making longer-term normative changes less likely. Indeed to make the comprehensive approach even more troubling, it seems that what works from above may even inhibit work from below. The typical view is 28

that top-down pressure relies on leverage - and that state compliance will be more likely when the source is powerful and the target weak (Krasner 1993). As Keck and Sikkink (1998: 118) say for China, "virtually none of the classic military and economic levers exist". Indeed, even on the issue of women’s rights in China, many NGOs and feminist activist groups have called out to the United States to publicly criticise the Chinese government (Radio Free Asia 2015). In many cases this kind of top-down pressure is clearly effective for encouraging short-term concessions. This study points to a potential contradiction between leverage and public persuasion however. Sometimes the public impacts of international pressure will coincide with the top-down behavioural impacts; for example in US allies. In other cases, when the pressure comes from a threatening source, this more effective kind of ‘topdown’ pressure may actually make bottom-up societal pressures less likely. In the case of China or Russia, public shaming of human rights will be most successful in the public when it comes from non-Western sources, those who do not appear to have any ulterior motives but arguably also the least leverage in international relations. Higher-leverage pressure from the United States may even turn the public against mobilisation for human rights in these states. This reiterates that to properly understand whether international human rights pressure is successful or not we need to recognise the geopolitical link between the source and the target of the pressure. The literature on state responses to international pressure has tended to treat the international system as a homogenous entity. Reviews of the literature on economic sanctions (Drezner 2001), naming and shaming (Hafner-Burton and Ron 2009), and the impact of foreign pressure on the collapse of authoritarian regimes (Geddes 2002) rarely mention how the source or timing of the pressure might matter, and those that do focus mainly on the concept of leverage (Cardenas 2004). One exception is Levitsky and Way (2005), who, although noting that leverage has certainly affected how vulnerable states have been to Western democratising pressure, argue that leverage is not enough. Essential to this vulnerability is the linkage of the target country to the West - in other words when there are dense ties (for example geopolitical and economic) between the target and the West, the costs of resisting the democratising pressure rise. This study is designed, in part, to follow their example.

29

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KARIMNAGAR. President. General Secretary. V. Sudhakar Reddy, Advocate. Flat No.102, SRR Enclave. 2-10-1089, Jyothinagar, Karimnagar. Ph: 0878 - 224577. Mob: 9949210801. Md. Anwar. D.No.1030, Jawaharnagar. Godavarikhani, Karimnagar. Mob: 9247822615. G

Prior Expectations Bias Sensory ... - Princeton University
In a separate analysis, we estimated BOLD amplitudes for each single trial, using the .... weights, we take our training data Bloc and regress those onto our hypo-.

Vision Based Self-driving Car - Princeton University
The world is very complicated. • We don't know the exact model/mechanism between input and output. • Find an approximate (usually simplified) model between input and output through learning. • Principles of learning are “universal”. – soc

Chapter 2 [PDF] - Princeton University Press
For more information send email to: ... These economists published two pathbreaking articles in the same year, 1956 (Solow, 1956;. Swan .... will study in Chapter 8) is that technology is free: it is publicly available as a nonexcludable, ... Definit

Prior Expectations Bias Sensory ... - Princeton University
segment in a 360° circle (Fig. 1A) using two buttons of an MR-compatible button box to rotate the line clockwise or anticlockwise. The initial di- rection of the line ...

Exporting and Organizational Change - Princeton University
Jul 18, 2017 - The computations in this paper were done at a secure data center .... of management (or L + 1 layers of employees, given that we call the ... of length z costs ¯wcz (c teachers per unit of knowledge at cost ¯w per teacher).

Exporting and Organizational Change - Princeton University
Jul 18, 2017 - We study the effect of exporting on the organization of production within firms. .... their technology (and so the marginal product of labor is higher) or .... Learning how to solve problems in an interval of knowledge .... We use conf

Sources of Wage Inequality - Princeton University
Jan 14, 2013 - strong empirical support. Helpman et al. ... facts that support the mechanism of firm$ ..... An International Comparison, Chicago: University of ...

Human Rights Violation - Outlook Afghanistan
Jul 17, 2016 - producing the cloud-like smokes. On the other hand, .... in their attacks and in certain cases they have even targeted the civil- ians intentionally ...

Womenns Rights and Development - Tulane University
capital and the relative attractiveness of reform is non&monotonic but growth inevitably leads to reform. I explore the .... is an endogenous variable, I also proxy it with child mortality as this allows one to rule out some alternative .... conditio