Faculty Research Director
Project Team Leads
Discrimination towards citizens based on ethnicity and socioeconomic inequality have been analyzed extensively at the level of elected politicians, but much less at the level of bureaucrats, whose mission requires prima facie impartiality towards citizens. In this Government Responsiveness project, we examine whether government agencies discriminate (according to gender, race or ethnicity, immigration status, partisanship, religion, and/or socioeconomic status) in communication with their constituencies by conducting an array of correspondence-audit field experiments in which actual citizens contact bureaucrats to request information on public services in five countries (the U.S, South Korea, South Africa, Turkey, and Argentina). Benefitting from the variation within confederates in terms of their gender, race or ethnicity, immigration, political, religious, and socioeconomic background, we match them on covariates and statistically maximize differences on the key dimensions between individuals in pairs. Afterwards, we will randomly assign individuals from the pairs as treatments to government agencies. Our main outcome variable is responsiveness, particularly whether the agency responds, how helpful the response is, and how much time elapses for the response to be received. To analyze the data on how long it takes our confederates to get a response, we use survival analysis techniques (also known as time-to-event analysis). We anticipate that women, racial or ethnic minorities, immigrants, political affiliates, religious minorities, and economically disadvantaged individuals will be subject to more discrimination, manifested by a decreased likelihood in response, poorer quality responses, and increased length of response time.
In the 2022-23 academic year, our team recruited 1,000 residents as confederates to our study who wrote emails for their local public officials. We standardized each email, used statistical matching techniques to find like pairs of confederates, attached treatment assignments to each email, found the appropriate public servant to email for each resident’s request, attached the email of the public official to the confederate, created emails for each confederate, and will soon launch the pilot of our experiment. The AY2023-24 will continue this exciting work.
Project Team Co-Leads
IPD Project Team Leader and Instructor, IPD Research Practicum
PhD Candidate, Department of Government
The University of Texas at Austin
Danny Cowser is a PhD Candidate in the UT Department of Government and holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Danny current leads a number of IPD project teams, including Government Responsiveness, Governance -Trade Wars, and Refugee Housing. Danny also co-leads the Peacebuilding Team with Jiseon Change and serves as instructor of the GOVT/IPD Research Practicum.
Windsor Bissell is a freshman International Relations student with hopes to focus on Latin American studies in the future. Intending on embarking on an international security track, she is part of IPD’s Government Responsiveness team and is excited to be a part of such impactful research. In her free time, Windsor likes to get involved with various clubs around UT and play word hunt on IMessage Gamepigeon.
Caleb Fleischmann is a sophomore at UT double majoring in Economics and Asian Studies. Caleb is originally from Connecticut but moved to Austin full-time after his acceptance into UT. He also works at the Austin Rowing Club as a rental assistant, helping people rent Kayaks on Lady Bird Lake to see the best sunsets out of anywhere in Austin! Caleb is lucky enough to have joined the IPD Government Responsiveness Team(GRUNT) to bridge his passions for Civil Service, community development, and research!
Andrew Zebrak is a passionate and driven individual with a strong interest in social justice, public service, and holistic development. He has a proven track record of success in his professional and personal endeavors, and he is committed to making a positive impact on the world. Andrew is currently a legal assistant at Greening Law Firm, where he works closely with the firm’s senior attorney to prepare a variety of legal documents. He is also a dedicated student and community leader, serving as the vice president of Pi-Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society, and the director of events for Bridge USA, a nonpartisan organization promoting constructive discourse. In his spare time, Andrew enjoys cooking, working out, reading, and talking about politics and philosophy. He is a well-rounded individual with a diverse range of interests and skills. Andrew is looking for opportunities where he can leverage his skills and experience to make a difference in the lives of others.
Atahan Koksoy is a Sophomore Economics major and a History minor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the Government Responsiveness project team. His interests include military history, defense economics, aviation, cultural studies, Italian, and art.
Kate Murphy is a pre-law sophomore in the Liberal Arts Honors program double-majoring in Government and Rhetoric & Writing. She has held positions as the Deputy Legislative Director for a Texas State Representative, an intern for a private investigation consulting firm, and an assistant at a public defense law firm. On campus, she is the director of the Disabilities Inclusion Agency of Student Government and serves on the Disability & Access Student Advisory Committee. Passionate about civic engagement and government reform, Murphy actively registers people to vote in Travis County and performs research for the Innovations for Peace and Development Lab.
Charlie is a fourth-year senior and was born and raised in Austin. He is a senior Government major who is also pursuing a business minor, as well as a security studies certificate. Charlie works at a local law firm and plans on attending law school soon following graduation. In his free time, he enjoys running, watching soccer, going to UT football games, and spending time with his friends.
Suzanna Ahmed is currently pursuing her undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics. She has a background in argumentative case writing and communication, actively judging and coaching for the Grand Oaks Speech and Debate Program and Team Texas on the international circuit. Before IPD, she researched the harms of artificial intelligence, through IPPF, which expanded her interest in economics and parallel global developments. Outside of research, Suzanna volunteered both locally and outside the United States—leading a project in Bangladesh that donated food and toys to children in Dhaka. She is so excited to be working on the Government Responsiveness Project.
Ashley Smith is a junior from Tyler, Texas majoring in Plan II and International Relations & Global Studies. She is also pursuing a Bridging Disciplines Certificate in Public Policy and minor in Government with the hope of going to graduate school for public affairs or international policy. Ashley has been working with IPD on the Government Responsiveness project since Fall 2022. She also volunteers with the Plan II/KIPP Program, serves on Liberal Arts Council, and works as a Plan II Peer Mentor. Off campus, Ashley enjoys following women’s sports, listening to niche podcasts, and reviewing Austin’s many coffee shops!
Jodie Nguyen is a 3rd year Computational Biology student with a minor in Professional Sales and Business Development along with certificates in Computer Science and Data Science. She is interested in a career in Data Analytics or Data Science after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, studying at coffee shops, baking, and thrifting.
Batul Mabruk is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s in Economics, a minor in Arabic, and a Pre-Health Professions certificate, and she is currently on the pre-dental track. Batul is a co-author on the Government Responsiveness project as well as a co-team leader, where she supervises a team of undergraduate IPD research assistants. Much of her work involves developing machine learning algorithms with Python to analyze results. Batul’s main interests lie in economic reform and policies, specifically regarding public health, and she plans on attending dental school after graduation. Outside of IPD, she has served as a Teaching Assistant for multiple economics courses at UT Austin.