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PDRI-DevLab Spring 2024 Workshop Series: Jeremy Springman

PDRI-DevLab is hosting a Spring 2024 Workshop Series featuring its staff and affiliates.

Topic: Youth civic engagement in the shadow of war: Evidence from a field experiment in Ethiopia.

Presenter: Jeremy Springman (with Sewareg Adamu, David A. Dow, Fitsum Hailu, Mesele Mengsteab and Juan Tellez)

Session Details:┬áThere are two large and fast-growing research programs in the study of political participation. One is about how to increase youth engagement in the face of weak participation rates in countries. The other is about how to increase social cohesion in countries where inter-group tensions drive conflict. Yet, despite their frequent interplay in contemporary politics, these questions are rarely considered jointly. As a result, we know little about how to increase engagement that unites, rather than divides, adversarial social groups in fragile contexts. We present evidence from a field experiment among university students in Ethiopia, a country characterized by low youth participation and intense ethnic conflict during the evaluation period. We randomized invitations to one-day workshops designed with local NGOs to increase engagement while mitigating the potential for increased ethnic tension. Four months out, intent-to-treat estimates using self-reported and behavioral measures show increases in students’ engagement with civic organizations but not government agencies, no changes in social cohesion, and some evidence that new participation had an identitarian quality. Network data suggests that increases in engagement were driven by students that formed new social ties during workshops. Results suggest that fostering tolerant engagement is possible, but highlight the oft-ignored importance of how countries’ organizational environments structure participation.

This session will be a workshop and participants are requested to read the paper beforehand.

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Jeremy Springman

Jeremy is an applied researcher working with universities, government agencies, and international organizations to implement research that can impact development policy and practice. In his work, he aspires to generate insights that can help donors and civil society strengthen democratic institutions and practices in developing countries. To investigate these topics, his research uses spatial analysis, machine learning techniques, and causal inference tools including field and survey experiments.