Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Allies or Commitment Devices? A Model of Appointments to the Federal Reserve (with Ian Turner and Alicia Uribe). Forthcoming at Economics and Politics
  •       PDF SSRN
    We present a model of executive-legislative bargaining over appointments to independent central banks in the face of an uncertain economy with strategic economic actors. The model highlights the contrast between two idealized views of Federal Reserve appointments. In one view, all politicians prefer to appoint conservatively biased central bankers to overcome credible commitment problems that arise in monetary policy. In the other, politicians prefer to appoint allies, and appointments are well described by the spatial model used to describe appointments to other agencies. Both ideals are limiting cases of our model, which depend on the level of economic uncertainty. When economic uncertainty is extremely low, politicians prefer very conservative appointments. When economic uncertainty increases, politicians' prefer central bank appointees closer to their own ideal points. In the typical case, the results are somewhere in between: equilibrium appointments move in the direction of politician's preferences but with a moderate conservative bias.

  • Keith Schnakenberg, Informational Lobbying and Legislative Voting. Forthcoming at American Journal of Political Science
  •       PDF Online Appendix SSRN
    In this article I analyze a model of interest group influence on legislative voting through information transmission. The model shows how interest groups may manipulate voting coalitions to their advantage by crafting different messages to target different winning coalitions. Furthermore, if access to legislators is costly, the interest groups prefer to coordinate with allied legislators by providing them with information that helps them to persuade less sympathetic legislators. The model reconciles informational theories of lobbying with empirical evidence suggesting that interest groups predominantly lobby those who already agree with them. The model also makes new predictions about the welfare effects of interest group influence: from an ex ante perspective, informational lobbying negatively effects the welfare of legislators. The results highlight the need for more theories of persuasion that take collective choice institutions into account.

  • Keith Schnakenberg, Directional Cheap Talk in Electoral Campaigns. Forthcoming at Journal of Politics
  •       PDF SSRN
    Can campaign communications credibly transmit information about candidates' policy intentions? To answer this question, I develop and analyze a game-theoretic model of campaign communication in a two-candidate majority rule election with multidimensional policies. Candidate and voter preferences are private information and campaigns consist of both candidates sending cheap talk messages in order to communicate information about their preferences. The game possesses equilibria involving informative campaign messages which reveal information about the directions of the candidates' ideal points from the center of the policy space but leave the voters uncertain about which candidate is more extreme. The results challenge standard arguments about communication in elections, which suggest that meaningful information transmission is not possible when talk is cheap. The formal model also makes predictions about issue packaging and selection in multidimensional campaigns. For instance, candidates choose to speak in terms of orthogonal ideological dimensions that cut across multiple policy issues.

  • Keith Schnakenberg, Expert Advice to a Voting Body. 2015 Journal of Economic Theory
  •       PDF SSRN
    I provide a theory of information transmission in collective choice settings. In the model, an expert has private information on the effect of a policy proposal and communicates to a set of voters prior to a vote over whether or not to implement the proposal. In contrast to previous game-theoretic models of political communication, the results apply to situations involving multiple voters, multidimensional policy spaces and a broad class of voting rules. The results highlight how experts can use information to manipulate collective choices in a way that reduces the ex ante expected utilities of all voters. Opportunities for expert manipulation are the result of collective choice instability: all voting rules that allow collective preference cycles also allow welfare-reducing manipulative persuasion by an expert. The results challenge prevailing theories of institutions in which procedures are designed to maximize information transmission.
    	title = "Expert advice to a voting body ",
    	journal = "Journal of Economic Theory ",
    	volume = "160, Part A",
    	number = "",
    	pages = "102 - 113",
    	year = "2015",
    	issn = "0022-0531",
    	doi = "",
    	url = "",
    	author = "Keith E. Schnakenberg",
    	keywords = "Signaling",
    	keywords = "Cheap talk",
    	keywords = "Social choice "

  • Keith Schnakenberg, Group identity and symbolic political behavior. 2014. Quarterly Journal of Political Science
  •       PDF SSRN
    Political expression often revolves around ethnic, religious, or cultural group identities. I develop a game-theoretic model explaining how group identities interact with citizens' social environments to induce political behavior designed to express group identity. Citizens make political choices before engaging in social interactions which may involve members of the individual's ingroup or outgroup. The strength of an individual's group identity is private information and affects payoffs from political behavior and from cooperative behavior in social interactions. Therefore, symbolic political behavior informs social interactions by revealing information about the group identity of the participant. Furthermore, cross-cutting pressures from ingroup and outgroup interactions govern the intensity with which individuals pursue symbolic political behavior. Symbolic political behavior is more common in segregated communities and among members of large majority groups. I illustrate the importance of the theory through an applications to anti-immigrant activism.
    	url = {},
    	title = {Group Identity and Symbolic Political Behavior},
    	number = {2},
    	doi = {10.1561/100.00013055},
    	volume = {9},
    	pages = {137-167},
    	author = {Keith E. Schnakenberg},
    	journal = {Quarterly Journal of Political Science},
    	issn = {1554-0626},
    	year = {2014}

  • Keith Schnakenberg and Elizabeth Maggie Penn, 2014. Scoring from contests. Political Analysis.
  •       PDF Replication Files
    This article presents a new model for scoring alternatives from “contest” outcomes. The model is a generalization of the method of paired comparison to accommodate comparisons between arbitrarily sized sets of alternatives in which outcomes are any division of a fixed prize. Our approach is also applicable to contests between varying quantities of alternatives. We prove that under a reasonable condition on the comparability of alternatives, there exists a unique collection of scores that produces accurate estimates of the overall performance of each alternative and satisfies a well-known axiom regarding choice probabilities. We apply the method to several problems in which varying choice sets and continuous outcomes may create problems for standard scoring methods. These problems include measuring centrality in network data and the scoring of political candidates via a “feeling thermometer.” In the latter case, we also use the method to uncover and solve a potential difficulty with common methods of rescaling thermometer data to account for issues of interpersonal comparability.
             author = {Schnakenberg, Keith E. and Penn, Elizabeth Maggie}, 
    	 title = {Scoring from Contests},
    	 volume = {22}, 
    	 number = {1}, 
    	 pages = {86-114}, 
    	 year = {2014}, 
    	 doi = {10.1093/pan/mpt018}, 
             URL = {}, 
             journal = {Political Analysis} 

  • Keith Schnakenberg and Christopher Fariss , 2014. Dynamic Patterns of Human Rights Practices. Political Science Research and Methods.
  •       PDF Replication Files SSRN
    The science of human rights requires valid comparisons of repression levels across time and space. Though extensive data collection efforts have made such comparisons possible in principle, statistical measures based on simple additive scales made them rare in practice. This article uses a dynamic measurement model that contrasts with current approaches by (1) accounting for the fact that human rights indicators vary in the level of information they provide about the latent level of repression, (2) allowing realistic descriptions of measurement uncertainty in the form of credible intervals and (3) providing a theoretical motivation for modeling temporal dependence in human rights levels. It presents several techniques, which demonstrate that the dynamic ordinal item-response theory model outperforms its static counterpart.
    	author = {Schnakenberg,Keith E. and Fariss,Christopher J.},
    	title = {Dynamic Patterns of Human Rights Practices},
    	journal = {Political Science Research and Methods},
    	volume = {2},
    	issue = {01},
    	month = {4},
    	year = {2014},
    	issn = {2049-8489},
    	pages = {1--31},
    	numpages = {31},
    	doi = {10.1017/psrm.2013.15},
    	URL = {},

  • Christopher Fariss and Keith Schnakenberg, 2014. Measuring Mutual Dependence Between State Repressive Actions. Journal of Conflict Resolution
  •       PDF Replication Files SSRN
    This study explores the relationships between state violations of different human rights. Though most quantitative studies in international relations treat different types of repressive behaviors as either independent or arising from the same underlying process, significant insights are gained by conceptualizing different human rights violations as separate but dependent processes. We present a theoretical framework for conceptualizing the mechanisms relating human rights practices and produce a novel measurement strategy based on network analysis for exploring these relationships. We illustrate high levels of complementarity between most human rights practices. Substitution effects, in contrast, are occasionally substantial but relatively rare. Finally, using empirically informed Monte Carlo analyses, we present predictions regarding likely sequences of rights violations resulting in extreme violations of different physical integrity rights.
    	author = {Fariss, Christopher J. and Schnakenberg, Keith E.}, 
    	title = {Measuring Mutual Dependence between State Repressive Actions},
    	year = {2013}, 
    	doi = {10.1177/0022002713487314}, 
    	URL = {}, 
    	journal = {Journal of Conflict Resolution} 

  • Antonia Ugues Jr , Keith Schnakenberg, Bohdan Kolody, Richard Hofstetter , and John Ayers, 2011. Two Cultures? Latino and Asian Language Assimilation along the U.S.-Mexico Border. California Journal of Politics and Policy.
  •       PDF
    The assimilation of recent immigrants to the United States has been a topic of considerable debate. Conservative scholars argue that Latinos are developing a Spanish monolingual society on the United States-Mexico border. More progressive scholars maintain that Latinos assimilate at rates similar to other immigrant groups. This study evaluates these claims using responses from a large-representative survey in San Diego, California. We find that Latinos are much less linguistically assimilated than Asians and characteristics negatively associated with assimilation are more prevalent among Latinos than Asians. While social-environmental predictors suggest that Latinos are assimilating at slower rates than Asians, Latinos appear to be making steady ground in their assimilation patterns. The findings provide a nuanced perspective falling between disparate accounts of language assimilation.
      title={Two-Cultures? Latino and Asian Language Assimilation Along the US-Mexico Border},
      author={Ugues, Antonio and Schnakenberg, Keith E and Kolody, Bohdan and Hofstetter, Richard and Ayers, John W},
      journal={California Journal of Politics and Policy},

  • John W. Ayers, Richard Hofstetter, Keith Schnakenberg, and Bohdan Kolody. 2009. Is Immigration a Racial Issue? Anglo Attitudes on Immigration Policies in a Border County. Social Science Quarterly.
  •       PDF Replication Files
    Objective. This study assesses the association between Anglo aversion to Latinos, physical proximity to Latinos, and contact with ethnic minorities, with expressed preferences for immigration policies. Methods. Data were drawn from a telephone survey of San Diego County, California, residents (N=549 Anglos) using random-digit-dial procedures during 2005–2006 that was conducted by closely supervised professional interviewers. Descriptive reports, tau-b correlations, and multivariate logistic regressions were used for analysis. Results. Aversion to Latinos, as indicated by an adaptation of the Bogardus social distance scale, was related to more restrictionist attitudes about legal and Mexican immigration. Associations increased when respondents were primed to consider Mexican immigration, although aversion to Latinos was not related to attitudes about amnesty for undocumented persons. Contrary to some previous findings, proximity to Latino populations increased opposition to legal immigration and amnesty. Reported minority contact had minimal impact but increased support for amnesty. Conclusions. Attitudes about immigration may be motivated more by racial resentments than other considerations. Future research should identify racial factors that influence Anglo policy positions beyond the classic Anglo/African division that has dominated this research arena.
    @article {Ayers2009,
    	author = {Ayers, John W. and Hofstetter, C. Richard and Schnakenberg, Keith and Kolody, Bohdan},
    	title = {Is Immigration a Racial Issue? Anglo Attitudes on Immigration Policies in a Border County*},
    	journal = {Social Science Quarterly},
    	volume = {90},
    	number = {3},
    	publisher = {Blackwell Publishing Inc},
    	issn = {1540-6237},
    	url = {},
    	doi = {10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00633.x},
    	pages = {593--610},
    	year = {2009},

    Other Publications

  • John Patty , Elizabeth M. Penn , and Keith Schnakenberg. 2013. Measuring the Latent Quality of Precedent: Scoring Vertices in Network. In Advances in Political Economy , ed. Norman Schofield, Gonzalo Caballero, Daniel Kselman), pp. 249-262.

  • Christopher Fariss and Keith Schnakenberg. 2012. New Takes on Human Rights Measurement. In Wrongs and Rights: The Newsletter for the APSA Human Rights Section.