Comparative Political Economy Democratization, Distributive Politics, Corruption, Post-socialist Politics, Formal & Empirical Methods International Political Economy International Organizations and Immigration Policy
“Purchasing Power: Distributive Politics and Corruption in New Democracies”
My book manuscript explores how economic flows and the lending policies of international organizations (IOs) shape political survival, electoral accountability, and democratic governance in recipient countries. I examine three questions related to the puzzle of rising illiberal politics in the era of transnational economic integration: (1) how do fiscal inflows shape voter behavior and the distributive policies of recipient governments; (2) how do incoming resources impact the political survival of governing parties; and (3) what are the conditions under which IO fiscal allocations can generate meaningful changes in recipient countries' economic and democratic performance. I develop a theory of "Corruption Compensation" with a more complete choice set of distributive policies at ruling parties' disposal that includes voter perceptions and the discretionary use of IO funds. To test my theoretical expectations, I assembled a comprehensive, sub-national dataset on IO lending, fiscal allocations, voter attitudes, and electoral indicators across Europe's transitioning democracies from 2000 to 2015. My findings show that the strategic interplay of these factors induces support for corrupt and populist incumbents in ways that impede economic growth, hinder democratic developments, and provoke authoritarian relapsing in developing and transitioning states.
Why do international organizations (IOs) favor some countries over others? Previous research has primarily focused on the strategic and special interests of donor states to explain why some countries receive better deals from international organizations. In this project, we highlight migration pressure from the developing world as an important factor that enters into the decision-making calculus of major IO shareholders. Focusing on the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union, we show that countries that pose substantial migration pressure to major donor states of these organizations receive preferential treatment, including larger financial packages and less stringent loan conditions. In addition, we compare and contrast the organizations’ strategies in governing international migration. Using in-depth case studies and novel datasets on loans, conditionality, and fiscal transfers, we demonstrate the important role of international migration in shaping some of the most critical decisions made by the world’s most powerful international organizations.
PEER REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS
1. Shehaj, Albana. Forthcoming. "The Perils of Succor: The European Union's Financial Role in the Western Balkans during COVID-19." European Policy Analysis, Early View.
2. Angin, Merih, Albana Shehaj, and Adrian J. Shin. Forthcoming. "Inside Job: Migration and Distributive Politics in the European Union." Economics and Politics, Early View. [Replication].
3. Angin, Merih, Albana Shehaj, and Adrian J. Shin. Revise and Resubmit. "IMF: International Migration Fund." Review of International Organizations. Conditional Accept.
4. Shehaj, Albana, Adrian J. Shin, and Ronald F. Inglehart. Forthcoming. "Immigration and Right-Wing Populism: An Origin Story.'' Party Politics, Online First. [Replication].
ARTICLES UNDER REVIEW
1. Backsliding in a Landslide: How EU's Fiscal Distributions Empower Corrupt Governments
2. Prejudice and Price: Corruption and Distributive Politics
3. Into the Woods: Migration and the Bretton Woods Institutions (with Merih Angin and Adrian J. Shin)
RECENT OP-EDs AND OUTREACH
"Investing in FDI: How and Why do the Western Balkans Differ?" Forthcoming. Tirana Observatory. Foreign Policy and International Relations. October 2020. "After the Pandemic: Perils and Promise for Western Balkans.'' BalkanInsight. 20 April 2020. "Strengthening electoral accountability is crucial in tackling corruption in the Western Balkans.'' Centre for the Study of Corruption, University of Sussex. 8 November 2019.