Blog Index
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My research focuses on the influence of informal, social relationships on state conflict and economic behavior. I am also interested in state development, civil conflict, and quantitative methods, especially strategies for estimating nonrandom missing data and time-varying parameters.

Grant Project

Modeling Sample Selection for Multi-Level Data Structures (NSF Award #1729244/1728395), with Olga Chyzh and Doug Gibler.


Thies, Cameron G. and Mark David Nieman. 2017. Rising Powers and Foreign Policy Revisionism: Understanding BRICS Identity and Behavior Through Time. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Available here.


Nieman, Mark David. Property Rights Regimes, Technological Innovation, and Foreign Direct Investment (with Cameron G. Thies) Political Science and Research Methods.  Download

Nieman, Mark David. Forthcoming. Strategic Binary Choice Models with Partial Observability. Statistical Sinica. doi:10.5705/ss.202016.0294. Download

Nieman, Mark David. 2016. The Return on Social Bonds: Social Contracts and International Conflict. Journal of Peace Research 53(5): 665-679. Download Online Appendix

Nieman, Mark David. 2016. Moments In Time: Moments in Time: Temporal Patterns in the Effect of Democracy and Trade on Conflict Model. Conflict Management and Peace Science 33(3): 273-293. Download Online Appendix

Thies, Cameron G., Olga Chyzh and Mark David Nieman. 2016. The Spatial Dimensions of Fiscal Capacity: The Mechanisms of International Influence on Domestic Extractive Efforts. Political Science Research and Methods. 4(1): 5-26. Download

Nieman, Mark David. 2015. Statistical Analysis of Strategic Interaction with Unobservable Player Actions: Introducing a Strategic Probit with Partial Observability. Political Analysis 23(3): 429-448. Download Watch International Methods Colloquium Webinar

Nieman, Mark David and Jonathan J. Ring. 2015. The Construction of Human Rights: Accounting for Systematic Bias in Common Human Rights Measures. European Political Science 14(4): 473-495. Download

Nieman, Mark David. 2011. Shocks and Turbulence: Globalization and the Occurrence of Civil War. International Interactions 37(3): 263-292. Download

Under Review

Identifying Major Power Support Signaled for Proteges: A Latent Measure Approach (with Roseanne McManus) Download

Abstract: We introduce a new latent measure of the support that major powers signal for their proteges to enhance protege security. Major powers have an incentive to signal their support for proteges in order to preassure them and deter harm against them. Major powers have a variety of complementary signals to choose among for this purpose, including alliances, troop deployments, arms transfers, joint military exercises, and leadership visits, making it difficult to weigh the importance of individual signals and accurately specify the degree of major power support signaled for a protege. We address this challenge by using a measurement model for mixed multivariate responses to construct a latent variable that provides a theoretically coherent means of identifying the overall level of support signaled by a major power for a protege. Our approach yields a cross-sectional-time-series dataset, providing continuous measures of the degree of support signaled by major powers for all minor powers from 1950–2007. Our model also provides insights regarding which signals of support are most meaningful. In applications, we show that our latent variable is useful for predicting whether major powers intervene in minor power conflicts and exploring the degree of major power competition for proteges.

Cooperation in Good Times: Are Democracies Really Different (with Douglas M. Gibler) Download

Abstract: Democracies are supposed to behave differently than other regime types in the international system, especially when cooperating with one another. We contend, however, that this cooperation is largely dependent upon the types of geopolitical environments that confront democratic regimes. Though other studies have demonstrated endogeneity between democracy and peace, but few have analyzed the effects of that joint relationship on democratic foreign policies. We use the alliance literature as our example and find that democracies in alliances are no more reliable than other regime types, once the state-development process is also modeled. Further, we find that the alliances formed during times of conflict are particularly unreliable "scraps of paper", and the general reliability of alliances is concentrated in those coordination alliances existing in already-peaceful environments. Our argument has important ramifications for a host of literatures focused on regime type as well as current debates over the effectiveness of democratic deterrence.

State-controlled Media and Foreign Policy: Analyzing Russian-language News (with Elena Labzina) Download

Abstract: Authoritarian regimes frequently employ state-owned media to frame and explain their domestic and foreign policies, often referencing national markers and invoking social identities to justify their actions. State-sponsored media accounts of ongoing events, therefore, are expected to conform to and be consistent with government-approved narratives. We take advantage of recent advances in textual analysis to test several predictions regarding news coverage of neighboring states, particularly in the build-up to military intervention. We analyze the vocabulary structure of Russia-24 broadcasts, a state-owned news channel, and Dohzd, an independent news source and identify shifts in coverage using a change-point model. Using a placebo approach to separate eventdriven coverage from state-directed propaganda, we find that Russian state-owned media significantly increased its coverage of Georgia and Ukraine, in the months preceding Russia’s military interventions. This increased coverage was often predicated with an increased discussion of traditional Russian geopolitical rivals, such as the US.

Leaving the Party: Power Asymmetries and Membership Discontinuity within International Organizations (with Youngwan Kim) Download

Abstact: Why do states become uncooperative within international organizations (IOs), or even discontinue their membership? We build a theoretical model to capture the cost-benefit calculus that member states experience when participating in an IO. The opportunity costs for member states are a function, in part, of the degree of power asymmetry within an IO, and the benefits as a function of an IO’s value-added efficiency. We expect that, all else equal, IOs with greater power asymmetries among their membership have greater contestation and are more likely to have members exit the organization, while policy convergence exerts a non-linear relationship with the likelihood of member discontinuity. We test the model’s predictions on a newly construct dataset on the degree of power inequality and policy similarity across IOs and find support for each hypothesis. 

Working Papers

Structural Selection for Events Data (with Olga Chyzh and Douglas M. Gibler) Download 

Abstract: Many events datasets events data collected by social scientists are products of structural elements that remain unanalyzed. Outcomes related to many types of event data, such as whether a protest campaign, terrorist organization, or insurgent group attain their goals, can only be observed where the events themselves are observed. Whether these events are observed depends, in part, on a series of broader structural factors, such as government strength and geopolitical location. Thus, the underlying processes behind the occurrence of events data are frequently correlated with the dependent variables of interest. Given this sample selection process, any naive estimation of the effects of covariates on particular outcomes using events data may produce biased inferences. We provide evidence that the problem may be alleviated using structural selection estimation.  Using Monte Carlo simulations from a multi-level data generating process that mimics that of the structural/micro-level events data, we show that structural selection models outperform other commonly employed estimators. We further illustrate the importance of accounting for structural processes by replicating two prominent empirical studies of government-opposition behavior--a model of civilian protest outcomes and estimates of civilian killing by insurgent groups--and find that structural selection affects many of the inferences drawn from the observable data. Our approach has broad implications, especially for the rich-detail but small-N datasets that are country- or region-focused.

Do Shared IO Memberships Increase the Amount of Foreign Aid? (with Youngwan Kim) Download

Abstract: Do shared international organizations (IOs) memberships affect foreign aid allocations? Shared IO memberships offer donors a path towards reducing the risk that recipients allocate funds in a manner inconsistent with the strategic or ideological goals of the donor. As donors interact with recipients in the same IOs, they are able to understand (and influence) recipients’ underlying policies. In addition, IOs can potentially offer a tool in which donors monitor how foreign aid is used. We argue that shared IO memberships promote foreign aid allocations provided by a donor to a recipient. We analyze the amount of foreign aid provided by the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan to 151 recipients in the period 1965-2005 and find empirical support for our expectations.

Containing Our Confidence: Controlling Explosive Confidence Intervals when using Long Run Multipliers (with David A.M. Peterson) Download

The recent exchange on Error Correction Models in Political Analysis and elsewhere dealt with several important issues involved in time series analysis.  While there was much disagreement in the symposium, one common theme was the lack of power due to the few number of observations for much of this work. As is well known, one result of low power is inflated standard errors. One issue low powered time series often face is that the confidence interval on a lagged dependent variable, even when the series is stationary, includes values ≥1.  This is particularly problematic when calculating the confidence interval of the long run multiplier.  If the confidence interval of the lagged dependent variable includes 1, the standard error of the long run multiplier will be explosive.  As a solution, we suggest using a Bayesian approach which formalizes the stationarity assumption by using a beta prior that is strictly less than 1.  As a result, we obtain theoretically informed estimates of the confidence regions for the lagged of the distribution of the long run multiplier. 

Explaining Variation in Protester Commitment: Survey Evidence from Ukraine's EuroMaidan, 2013-2014 (with Olga Chyzh). Download

Why do some protesters place themselves into situations with a high-risk of personal injury, while others dissipate at the first threat of repression? The anti-government protests in Ukraine provided an ideal setting for answering this question, due to the government's known preference to keep up the semblance of freedom of assembly during the day, while engaging in violent repression against the protesters under the cover of the night. Our analysis of survey data collected from over 110 protesters in December, 2013 reveals that, contrary to the conventional media story of an East--West divide, night-time protesters originated from all over the country and consisted of both Russian- and Ukrainian-speakers. We explore four competing explanations--cultural, political, economic, and educational--to explain protester goals, and to identify what characteristics made a protester more likely to remain in Maidan at night. We then compare the explanatory powers of each theoretical model using Clarke's distribution-free test, which allows for non-nested model comparison. Our analysis provides one of the few studies examining costly forms of unconventional political participation at the time of that participation, rather than retrospectively.

Putting Together the FDI Puzzle: An Endogenous Model of Foreign Direct Investment, Democracy, Economic Development, and Human Capital Download

Abstract: I draw on endogenous growth theory to develop a dynamic formal model that treats foreign direct investment (FDI), economic growth, democracy, and human capital as endogenous and mutually dependent. Economic growth and democracy are thought to encourage FDI. But the amount of FDI a country can receive is limited by the availability of human capital. This ceiling acts as a carrying capacity, as FDI utilizes existing human capital, eventually exhausting its supply. Yet, FDI is sought, in part, because it increases the level of human capital via direct knowledge transfers and by stimulating the economy, thus creating more resources to be dedicated towards human capital. As such, the carrying capacity--the idea that `another mouth to feed is also another pair of hands to work'--is an important variable in the model--a variable that is rarely accounted for. Once included in the model, carrying capacity leads to previously untested predictions that posit non-linear relationships among variables.  I test the model's predictions using a system of simultaneous equations and find support for the hypotheses. I conclude that foreign investment and human capital growth lead to greater per capita economic growth in developed than in developing countries.