Stephen Chaudoin
Assistant Professor
Stephen Chaudoin
Office CGIS Knafel, Room 207
Phone +1 678 637 8392
Address   Department of Government
Harvard University
CGIS Knafel Building 207
Cambridge, MA  02138
About Me

  • In the fall of 2018, I joined the Department of Government at Harvard University. I received my PhD from the Princeton University Department of Politics in the Spring of 2012. From the Fall of 2012 to the Spring of 2014, I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Political Science, and then was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois from 2014-2018.
  • I am interested in international institutions, international political economy, and formal and quantitative methods. My research contributes to questions of how international institutions affect member state behavior. Existing theories focus on domestic enforcement mechanisms associated with international cooperation. My theoretical work examines how the preferences, political strength, and strategic behavior of domestic actors facilitate and constrain domestic enforcement mechanisms. My empirical work has tested these theories in settings ranging from international trade and the WTO to war crimes and the ICC as well as environmental contexts.
Curriculum Vita

Peer-reviewed Publications

Working Papers

  • How International Organizations Change Media Discussion of Internal Violence (Revise and resubmit at Interntional Organization. Presented at Bozeman Directions Conference 2019, SPSA 2020, PEIO 2020).

    How do international institutions change the discussion of human rights violations and how does their message reach the broader public? I show how local media is a key conduit that is affected by international institutions' actions. I use analysis of media coverage from the Philippines to show that the International Criminal Court changed the content of media coverage of the war on drugs. I find that the ICC did not increase total coverage of the war on drugs. However, the ICC triggered contestation between pro- and anti-human rights actors, which increased the proportion of media coverage focusing on the human rights aspects of the war on drugs. This helps explain why international institutions have struggled to win public opinion battles. Though their actions amplify the voices of actors who support the institution, media coverage concurrently amplifies the voices of their opponents. This study thus provides systematic evidence of how international institutions reach the mass politics through their effect on local media coverage.

  • The Election Effect: Democratic Leaders in Inter-group Conflict with Sarah Hummel and Yon Soo Park. (Under review.) (Presented at APSA 2019, SPSA 2020, Harvard Experimental Conference 2020, Global Seminar on Contests 2022).

    Interactions between countries often depend on choices made by democratically selected leaders. Using an online laboratory experiment, we show that democratic leader selection increases inefficient effort in inter-group contest games, which share key features with many interstate conflicts. A large portion of this increase is caused by an election effect, wherein individuals behave differently after the experience of being elected by members of their group. Democratic election intensifies group identification and generates an obligation to voters, causing leaders to exert more costly effort in competitive situations. We use a carefully specified decomposition strategy to distinguish the election effect from better known selection effects, wherein eventual leaders are non-randomly chosen. From a welfare perspective, our negative finding about inter-group interactions is contrary to the near-universal positive effects of democracy found in intra-group experiments.

  • Elections, War, and Gender: Choose to Run, Choose to Fight with Sarah Hummel and Yon Soo Park. (Under review).

    Most explanations of so-called ``Iron Ladies'' - women leaders who pursue aggressive policies during interstate conflict - emphasize gendered aspects of international politics. We highlight a different explanation based on the self selection of women into candidacy for group leadership. To illustrate this, we conduct a laboratory experiment using online real-time, group play where participants choose to run for election, run a simple campaign, and represent their group in a contest game if elected. We find that women who place a higher non-monetary values on winning are more likely to select into candidacy, win election, and then spend more resources in intergroup contests than their male counterparts. These patterns appear even though our protocol stacks the deck against gender biases by anonymizing participants and shuffling groups. Our findings emphasize the agency and preferences of so-called Iron Ladies who choose to run and, subsequently, choose to fight harder in intergroup contests.

  • Complementarity and Public Views on Overlapping Domestic and International Courts with Kelebogile Zvobgo. (Under review). (Presented at SPSA 2020, ISA 2020, Univ. of Chicago 2020, UCLA, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Univ. of Washington 2021).

    Can international organizations (IOs) turn the tide of resistance to their authority? We consider a class of IOs bound by the \textit{complementarity} principle: they only act when domestic institutions fail. IOs like the International Criminal Court (ICC) have placed great faith in complementarity as an argument to rally support for international action and spur domestic action. We evaluate the effectiveness of complementarity arguments using the largest global public opinion survey experiment on the ICC to date (N = 10,402). We focus on five countries whose cooperation could be pivotal for the Court: Georgia, Israel, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United States. We find very limited evidence that complementarity arguments improve public support for either ICC investigations or domestic investigations. This suggests complementarity and other pro-IO arguments predicated on democratic procedure or fairness may not restore support for international institutions.

  • Why Populists Neglect Automation: The Political Economy of Economic Dislocation with Michael-David Mangini. (Presented at GSIPE, GRIPE 2021, IPES 2021).

    Why do populists emphasize offshoring as a cause of manufacturing job losses when automation is at least as significant a culprit? Why have voters predominantly responded to automation and offshoring shocks by demanding a retreat from globalization but not transfers to the unemployed? We propose that both questions are explained by the collision of economic nationalism and comparative advantage trade. Economic nationalists who value their state’s self-sufficiency are hesitant to support policies that could hamper their own state’s comparative advantage industries, like regulations of high-tech automation. They are more comfortable with tariffs restricting imports. In the United States, which has a comparative advantage in the production of capital intensive automation technologies, this effect undercuts the willingness of voters to support policies that would protect manufacturing jobs by reducing the ability of American firms to sell technology. Opportunistic populist politicians emphasize offshoring because economic nationalist voters are unified in their support for limiting imports but divided in their support for limiting automation. We develop a formal model of nationalist demand for policy in response to economic dislocation, where citizens form preferences over redistribution plans and a policy response that blunts dislocation (like a tariff or a restriction on automation). The source (foreign versus domestic) and type (labor versus automation) of a shock affects the preferred weights citizens place on each policy. We test the model’s predictions with a survey experiment fielded in the United States. Consistent with expectations, domestic automation shocks increase the weight respondents place on redistribution versus a regulatory response, while globalization shocks place much heavier weight on regulatory (tariff) responses. Altering the source of each shock - by emphasizing foreign-produced automation technology or within-country labor relocation - reweights responses towards regulations in the former case and redistribution in the latter case. Our findings contribute to our understanding of the political consequences of the current populist moment as well as the future consequences and remedies for automation shocks.

Research In Progress

  • Hegemony in a Networked World with Helen Milner and Xun Pang.

  • Ignoring Ignorability: Assessing the Exogeneity of Instrumental Variables in IR Research with Jude Hays, Raymond Hicks, and Shom Mazumder.

    We conduct a large scale replication exercise to reproduce results from extant international relations research that use instrumental variables (IV). Most existing uses of IV focus almost exclusively on an exclusion restriction assumption. Yet, an equally important assumption concerns the degree to which instruments are correlated with observables that also affect outcomes, an independence assumption. We document the degree to which existing applications uphold this assumption and describe sensitivity testing approaches that can circumscribe inferences in the presence of violations of the independence assumption.

Teaching and Syllabi
GOV 40 - Introduction to International Relations Syllabus , Assignments Undergraduate, Harvard University
GOV 3007 - Political Economy WorkshopGraduate, Harvard University
GOV 3005 - International Relations WorkshopGraduate, Harvard University
GOV 94 - Human Rights Syllabus Undergraduate, Harvard University
GOV 2752 - Formal Theory in IR and CP Syllabus Graduate, Harvard University
Past Classes
PS 598 - Human RightsGraduate, University of Illinois
PS 280 - Introduction to International RelationsUndergraduate, University of Illinois
PS 596 - International Political Economy Syllabus Graduate, University of Illinois
PS 590 - New Research in PS Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
PS 392 - International Organizations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
PS 398 - Strategy in International Relations Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Illinois
PS 2703 - Formal Political Theory I Syllabus Graduate, University of Pittsburgh
PS 1514 - Political Strategy in IRUndergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
PS 1581 - International Courts Syllabus Undergraduate, University of Pittsburgh
PS 1503 - International OrganizationsUndergraduate, University of Pittsburgh

Other Publications and works

Dissertation Research

  • Abstract: A large body of literature with a lengthy history argues that international institutions facilitate cooperation by providing information. Cooperation among nations is difficult without credible punishment for defectors, and information is key to detecting the occurrence and severity of those defections. Domestic audiences are thought to be a key source of punishment. This dissertation explains how variation in the preferences and political strength of domestic audiences condition the informational role of institutions. I develop a theory that shows how audience preferences and strength affect how audiences react to information about defections, how their reaction, in turn, affects member states' strategic decision over whether to transmit information, and how policymakers choose whether to cooperate in the shadow of potential punishment. I demonstrate this theory with evidence at both the macro and micro levels, both observational and experimental. At the macro level, I show how audience preferences and political strength affect the timing of World Trade Organization disputes against the United States. At the micro level, I conduct an original survey experiment that shows how audience preferences moderate the degree to which audiences punish defections. Taken together, the theory and empirical analysis advance our understanding of the promise and limitations of international institutions and agreements as independent forces for cooperation.

  • My dissertation committee members were: Helen Milner (chair), Christina Davis, Robert Keohane, and John Londregan.
  • My full dissertation is available here: (.pdf) .

Harvard University, Department of Government