Schaffer, Lena

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Climate events and the role of adaptive capacity for (im-)mobility

2022-03, Koubi, Vally, Schaffer, Lena, Spilker, Gabriele, Böhmelt, Tobias

The study examines the relationship between sudden- and gradual-onset climate events and migration, hypothesizing that this relationship is mediated by the adaptive capacity of affected individuals. We use survey data from regions of Cambodia, Nicaragua, Peru, Uganda, and Vietnam that were affected by both types of events with representative samples of non-migrant residents and referral samples of migrants. Although some patterns are country-specific, the general findings indicate that less educated and lower-income people are less likely to migrate after exposure to sudden-onset climate events compared to their counterparts with higher levels of education and economic resources. These results caution against sweeping predictions that future climate-related events will be accompanied by widespread migration.

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How to measure public demand for policies when there is no appropriate survey data?

2017-06, Oehl, Bianca, Schaffer, Lena, Bernauer, Thomas

Explanatory models accounting for variation in policy choices by democratic governments usually include a demand (by the public) and a supply (by the government) component, whereas the latter component is usually better developed from a measurement viewpoint. The main reason is that public opinion surveys, the standard approach to measuring public demand, are expensive, difficult to implement simultaneously for different countries for purposes of crossnational comparison and impossible to implement ex post for purposes of longitudinal analysis if survey data for past time periods are lacking. We therefore propose a new approach to measuring public demand, focussing on political claims made by nongovernmental actors and expressed in the news. To demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of our measure of published opinion, we focus on climate policy in the time period between 1995 and 2010. When comparing the new measure of published opinion with the best available public opinion survey and internet search data, it turns out that our data can serve as a meaningful proxy for public demand.

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Environmental Stressors and Migration : Evidence from Vietnam

2016, Koubi, Vally, Spilker, Gabriele, Schaffer, Lena, Bernauer, Thomas

The argument that environmental change is an important driving force of migration has experienced a strong revival in the climate change context. While various studies predict large environmental migration flows due to climate change and other environmental events, the ex post empirical evidence for this phenomenon is inconclusive. We contribute to the extant literature by focusing on the micro-level. We examine whether and how individual perceptions of different types of environmental stressors induce internal migration. The analysis relies on original survey data from Vietnam including both migrants and non-migrants. The results suggest that individual perceptions of long-term environmental events, such as droughts, significantly reduce migration while perceptions of sudden-onset environmental events, such as floods, significantly increase the likelihood of migration controlling for other determinants of migration. These findings also imply that improving the targeting of aid to environmental disaster-affected areas and the financial and technical support for adaptation to environmental change could be the most productive policy-options. Policymakers, thus, need to implement a wide range of developmental policies in combination with environmental ones in order to improve society’s ability to effectively cope with environmental change and minimize its effect on migration.

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Self-interest versus sociotropic considerations : an information-based perspective to understanding individuals’ trade preferences

2019-11-02, Schaffer, Lena, Spilker, Gabriele

Economic self-interest has been central to explaining individual trade preferences. Depending on the theoretical trade model different variables influence individuals’ attitude towards globalization and existing research has come to different conclusions as to whether individuals’ preferences are dependent on skill level, income or the sector of employment. Other studies depart from economic self-interest by arguing that it is not self-interest that motivates individuals to form their preference, but country-level economic factors (sociotropic considerations) instead. We argue that one needs to approach trade preference formation from an information-based perspective and we test experimentally how people react if they are aware that they personally or nationally will gain or lose from trade and which of the two aspects are more important. By using survey experiments embedded in a representative national survey in the U.S. we are able to differentiate whether a person was triggered by ego- or sociotropic benefits/costs of free trade.

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The role of environmental perceptions in migration decision-making : evidence from both migrants and non-migrants in five developing countries

2016-12, Koubi, Vally, Spilker, Gabriele, Schaffer, Lena, Böhmelt, Tobias

Research has demonstrated that, in a variety of settings, environmental factors influence migration. Yet much of the existing work examines objective indicators of environmental conditions as opposed to the environmental perceptions of potential migrants. This paper examines migration decision-making and individual perceptions of different types of environmental change (sudden vs. gradual environmental events) with a focus on five developing countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda, Nicaragua, and Peru. The survey data include both migrants and non-migrants, with the results suggesting that individual perceptions of long-term (gradual) environmental events, such as droughts, lower the likelihood of internal migration. However, sudden-onset events, such as floods, increase movement. These findings substantially improve our understanding of perceptions as related to internal migration and also suggest that a more differentiated perspective is needed on environmental migration as a form of adaptation.

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Does social capital increase public support for economic globalisation?

2012, Spilker, Gabriele, Schaffer, Lena, Bernauer, Thomas

The dominant explanation of public attitudes vis-à-vis economic globalisation focuses on re-distributional implications, with an emphasis on factor endowments and government-sponsored safety nets (the compensation hypothesis). The empirical implication of these theoretical arguments is that in advanced economies, on which this article focuses, individuals endowed with less human and financial capital will be more likely to experience income losses. Hence they will oppose economic openness unless they are compensated by the government. It is argued here that including social capital in the analysis can fill two gaps in explanations relying on factor endowments and the compensation hypothesis. First, generalised trust – one key aspect of social capital – constitutes a personal endowment alongside human and financial capital. Second, structural social capital – another key aspect of social capital – can be regarded as a nongovernmental social safety net that can compensate for endowment-related disadvantages of individuals. Both aspects of social capital are expected to contribute, for distinct reasons, to more positive views on economic openness. The empirical testing relies on survey data for two countries: Switzerland and the United States. For both countries, the results indicate that generalised trust has a strong, positive effect on public opinion of economic globalisation, whereas structural social capital has no effect.

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The Determinants of Environmental Migrants' Conflict Perception

2018, Koubi, Vally, Böhmelt, Tobias, Spilker, Gabriele, Schaffer, Lena

Migration is likely to be a key factor linking climate change and conflict. However, our understanding of the factors behind and consequences of migration is surprisingly limited. We take this shortcoming as a motivation for our research and study the relationship between environmental migration and conflict at the micro level. In particular, we focus on environmental migrants' conflict perceptions. We contend that variation in migrants' conflict perception can be explained by the type of environmental event people experienced in their former home, whether gradual, and long-term or sudden-onset, short-term environmental changes. We develop this argument before quantitatively analyzing newly collected micro-level data on intra-state migration from five developing countries. The results emphasize that migrants who experienced gradual, long-term environmental events in their former homes are more likely to perceive conflict in their new location than those having experienced sudden, short-term environmental events. These findings are in line with our theoretical argument that environmental migrants who suffer from environmentally induced grievances are ultimately more likely to perceive conflict and challenges in their new locations.

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Adding Another Level : Individual Responses to Globalization and Government Welfare Policies

2016, Schaffer, Lena, Spilker, Gabriele

Literature on the compensation hypothesis overwhelmingly concentrates on either the macro or micro level of the relationship between globalization and welfare spending. This paper explicitly addresses this shortcoming by using individual citizens and country-specific characteristics in a hierarchical model framework. We start by examining individual’s context-conditional reactions to actual economic globalization and welfare generosity; after which, we make the effect of actual economic globalization (welfare generosity) conditional on whether the individual is a globalization winner or loser. In contrast to theoretical expectations, our results indicate that actual economic globalization does not affect people’s perception in the manner expected by the compensation hypothesis. However, individuals display more positive attitudes toward globalization if welfare state generosity is proxied using government spending on active labor market programs.

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Die Prognosegüte von Wahlbörsen und Meinungsumfragen zur Bundestagswahl 2005

2005, Schaffer, Lena, Schneider, Gerald

Die Gegenüberstellung von Wahlbörsenresultaten und Meinungsumfragen gehört zu den Ritualen, die in der Berichterstattung über Wahlen nach Bekanntgabe der Resultate einsetzen. Doch viele dieser Analysen beziehen sich nicht auf eigentliche Vorhersagen. In diesem Aufsatz stellen wir einen ähnlichen Vergleich an, beziehen uns aber auf Prognosen, die wir vor dem Wahlausgang für die Bundestagswahl 2005 errechneten. Die Analyse zeigt, dass die Wahlbörse Wahl$treet auch 2005 besser abschnitt als die kommerziellen Institute. Angesichts der außergewöhnlich großen Prognosefehler besonders der Umfrageinstitute diskutieren wir überdies im Licht der Social Choice-Theorie, welche Auswirkungen fehlerhafte Umfragen auf Wahlentscheidungen haben.