Christopher L. Carter

PhD candidate in political science
University of California, Berkeley


Christopher L. Carter. Party System Erosion: Evidence from Peru. Party Politics.
Weakly institutionalized party systems are a defining feature of third-wave democracies. Yet, in some countries, like Peru, party weakness is not a static equilibrium but rather part of a dynamic process of “party system erosion” in which weak parties become weaker over time as independents come to dominate subnational posts. As I argue, party system erosion is driven by a particular configuration of institutional factors—weak party brands, low barriers to ballot access, and limited partisan control over resource distribution during and after campaigns. These institutional features increase the likelihood that experienced candidates will run as independents. When these candidates are elected, experience enables them to obtain more intergovernmental discretionary transfers. The superior in-office performance of experienced, independent officials further weakens party brands, leading fewer and fewer experienced candidates to run with parties. I test this theory using a dataset of 80,000 subnational officials and a regression discontinuity design.

Ruth Berins Collier, V.B. Dubal, and Christopher L. Carter. Disrupting Regulation, Regulating Disruption: The Politics of Uber in the United States. Perspectives on Politics.
Platform companies disrupt not only the economic sectors they enter, but also the regulatory regimes that govern those sectors. We examine Uber in the United States as a case of regulating this disruption in different arenas: cities, state legislatures, and judicial venues. We find that the politics of Uber regulation does not conform to existing models of regulation. We describe instead a pattern of disrupted regulation, characterized by a consistent challenger-incumbent cleavage, in two steps. First, an existing regulatory regime is not deregulated but successfully disregarded by a new entrant. Second, the politics of subsequently regulating the challenger leads to a dual regulatory regime. In the case of Uber, disrupted regulation takes the form of challenger capture, an elite driven pattern, in which the challenger has largely prevailed. It is further characterized by the surrogate representation of dispersed actors—customers and drivers—who do not have autonomous power and who rely instead on alignment with the challenger and incumbent. In its surrogate capacity in city and state regulation, Uber has frequently mobilized large numbers of customers and drivers to lobby for policy outcomes that allow it to continue to provide service on terms it finds acceptable. Because drivers have reaped less advantage from these alignments, labor issues have been taken up in judicial venues, again primarily by surrogates (usually plaintiffs’ attorneys) but to date have not been successful.

Christopher L. Carter and Alison Post. Decentralization and Urban Governance: Evidence To-Date and Avenues for Future Research. in Decentralization and Development in Practice. Jonathan Rodden and Erik Wibbels, eds. Cambridge University Press.
As increasingly large shares of the developing world’s population come to live in cities, it is important to examine the effects of political, fiscal, and administrative decentralization on urban governance and service delivery. Relevant academic scholarship and policy research, we show, suggests that clientelism, populism, and local capture often persist following the establishment of municipal elections. However, conditions such as political competition, independent fiscal resources, and strong civil societies can facilitate more democratic outcomes following decentralization. Meanwhile, our review of literature on decentralization’s impact on two quintessentially “urban” services—land market regulation and urban water and sanitation—suggests that decentralization involves important trade-offs. On the one hand, decentralization can help citizens to pressure more effectively for inclusion and access, particularly in the presence of political competition and a robust civil society. On the other hand, it can make it more difficult for policymakers to address metropolitan-level or long run concerns regarding investments in basic infrastructure that are often not at the forefront of voters’ minds. We also highlight the need for primary data collection, suggest research design strategies that would allow for more rigorous empirical analyses, and highlight important topics that have received very little attention.

In Progress

Communal Landholding and the Coordination of Ethnic Voting: Evidence from Mexico and Peru

Christopher L. Carter

Public goods are often allocated along ethnic lines in heterogeneous societies. However, variation exists in the extent to which one ethnic group controls resources as opposed to another. In this paper, I use the cases of Peru and Mexico to explore the conditions under which indigenous citizens elect coethnic leaders and how the election of such candidates affects the distribution of public goods provided across ethnic groups. I argue that where communal landholding institutions, which tend to have a mostly indigenous membership, have persisted, differences in development outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous populations are greatly reduced. Such a reduction is largely due to the the fact that communities solve coordination problems, allowing indigenous voters to support a single indigenous candidate, who, when victorious, rewards communities with public goods. Using data from a conjoint experiment, lab-in-the-field, and a natural experiment, I provide evidence to show that 1) a candidate’s community membership is an important determinant of whether she receives the support of community members; 2) that trust in the candidate is a key mechanism in explaining this preference; and 3) that mayors who are community members reward communities with more public goods than mayors who are not from communities.

Funded by: US Department of Education, UC Berkeley Institute for International Studies John L. Simpson Memorial Grant, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Mexus
Implementing partner: IPA

Does Information Lead to Implementation? Field Experimental Evidence from Peru

Christopher L. Carter

A growing literature in political science and economics has addressed how the provision of information to citizens shapes accountability, corruption, and voter turnout in the developing world. Yet, only limited attention has been devoted to understanding the information environments of local-level elected officials, particularly whether they have adequate and accurate information about the effects of certain nationally funded programs and how different types of information affect their decisions to implement those programs in their municipalities. Two questions thus arise: 1) How do officials’ decisions to implement programs change once they are correctly informed about various program effects? And 2) are local officials more concerned with the policy outcomes of programs or their potential electoral effects? I use a field experiment with Peruvian mayors to answer this question.

Funded by: J-PAL Governance Initiative
Implementing partner: IPA

© 2018 Christopher Carter
Adapted from road2stat (Nan Xiao)