Bio

Bio


David D. Laitin is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He received his BA from Swarthmore College, and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia and Grenada, where he became national tennis champion in 1970. Back in the US, he received his Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley, working under the direction of Ernst Haas and Hanna Pitkin.

He has taught at three great universities: UCSD (1975-87), the University of Chicago (1987-1999) and now at Stanford. Over his career, as a student of comparative politics, he has conducted field research in Somalia, Yorubaland (Nigeria), Catalonia (Spain), Estonia, and France, all the time focusing on issues of language and religion, and how these cultural phenomena link nation to state. His books include Politics, Language and Thought: The Somali Experience (1977), Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yoruba (1986), Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa (1992), Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad (1998), and Nations, States and Violence (2007).

Over the past decade, mostly in collaboration with James Fearon, he has published several papers on ethnicity, ethnic cooperation, the sources of civil war, and on policies that work to settle civil wars. Laitin has also collaborated with Alan Krueger on international terrorism and with Eli Berman on suicide terrorism.

In 2008-2009, with support from the National Science Foundation, and with a visiting appointment at Sciences-Po Paris, Laitin conducted ethnographic, survey and experimental research on Muslim integration into France, seeking to assess the magnitude of religious discrimination and isolate the mechanisms that sustain it. The initial results from that project were published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (2010).

Laitin has been a recipient of fellowships from the Howard Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Teaching

2018-19 Courses


Publications

All Publications


  • A low-cost information nudge increases citizenship application rates among low-income immigrants. Nature human behaviour Hotard, M., Lawrence, D., Laitin, D. D., Hainmueller, J. 2019

    Abstract

    We show that an information nudge increased the rate of American citizenship applications among low-income immigrants eligible for a federal fee waiver. Approximately half of the 9million naturalization-eligible immigrants qualify for a federal programme that waives the cost of the citizenship application for low-income individuals. However, take-up of this fee waiver programme remains low1-3. Here we use a randomized field experiment to test the effectiveness of a low-cost intervention (a 'nudge') that informed low-income immigrants about their eligibility for the fee waiver. We find that the information nudge increased the rate of citizenship applications by about 8.6 percentage points from 24.5% in the control group to 33.1% in the treatment group (ordinary least squares regression with robust standard errors (d.f.=933); P=0.015; 95% confidence interval ranged from 1.7 to 15.4 percentage points). We found no evidence that the nudge was less effective for poorer or less educated immigrants. These findings contribute to the literature that addresses the incomplete take-up of public benefits by low-income populations4-10 and suggest that lack of information is an important obstacle to citizenship among low-income immigrants who demonstrate an interest in naturalization.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41562-019-0572-z

    View details for PubMedID 30988483

  • Multidimensional measure of immigrant integration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Harder, N., Figueroa, L., Gillum, R. M., Hangartner, D., Laitin, D. D., Hainmueller, J. 2018

    Abstract

    The successful integration of immigrants into a host country's society, economy, and polity has become a major issue for policymakers in recent decades. Scientific progress in the study of immigrant integration has been hampered by the lack of a common measure of integration, which would allow for the accumulation of knowledge through comparison across studies, countries, and time. To address this fundamental problem, we propose the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) Integration Index as a pragmatic and multidimensional measure of immigrant integration. The measure, both in the 12-item short form (IPL-12) and the 24-item long form (IPL-24), captures six dimensions of integration: psychological, economic, political, social, linguistic, and navigational. The measure can be used across countries, over time, and across different immigrant groups and can be administered through short questionnaires available in different modes. We report on four surveys we conducted to evaluate the empirical performance of our measure. The tests reveal that the measure distinguishes among immigrant groups with different expected levels of integration and also correlates with well-established predictors of integration.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1808793115

    View details for PubMedID 30348786

  • "Sons of the soil': A model of assimilation and population control JOURNAL OF THEORETICAL POLITICS Acharya, A., Laitin, D. D., Zhang, A. 2018; 30 (2): 184–223
  • A randomized controlled design reveals barriers to citizenship for low-income immigrants PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Hainmueller, J., Lawrence, D., Gest, J., Hotard, M., Koslowski, R., Laitin, D. D. 2018; 115 (5): 939–44

    Abstract

    Citizenship endows legal protections and is associated with economic and social gains for immigrants and their communities. In the United States, however, naturalization rates are relatively low. Yet we lack reliable knowledge as to what constrains immigrants from applying. Drawing on data from a public/private naturalization program in New York, this research provides a randomized controlled study of policy interventions that address these constraints. The study tested two programmatic interventions among low-income immigrants who are eligible for citizenship. The first randomly assigned a voucher that covers the naturalization application fee among immigrants who otherwise would have to pay the full cost of the fee. The second randomly assigned a set of behavioral nudges, similar to outreach efforts used by service providers, among immigrants whose incomes were low enough to qualify them for a federal waiver that eliminates the application fee. Offering the fee voucher increased naturalization application rates by about 41%, suggesting that application fees act as a barrier for low-income immigrants who want to become US citizens. The nudges to encourage the very poor to apply had no discernible effect, indicating the presence of nonfinancial barriers to naturalization.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1714254115

    View details for Web of Science ID 000423728800047

    View details for PubMedID 29339470

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5798346

  • Introducing the AMAR (All Minorities at Risk) Data JOURNAL OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION Birnir, J. K., Laitin, D. D., Wilkenfeld, J., Waguespack, D. M., Hultquist, A. S., Gurr, T. R. 2018; 62 (1): 203–26
  • Trust, Transparency, and Replication in Political Science PS-POLITICAL SCIENCE & POLITICS Laitin, D. D., Reich, R. 2017; 50 (1): 172-175
  • Language Policy and Human Development AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Laitin, D. D., Ramachandran, R. 2016; 110 (3): 457-480
  • The Social Effects of Ethnic Diversity at the Local Level: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY Algan, Y., Hemet, C., Laitin, D. D. 2016; 124 (3): 696-733

    View details for DOI 10.1086/686010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000376987700003

  • RELIGIOUS HOMOPHILY IN A SECULAR COUNTRY: EVIDENCE FROM A VOTING GAME IN FRANCE ECONOMIC INQUIRY Adida, C. L., Laitin, D. D., Valfort, M. 2015; 53 (2): 1187-1206

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ecin.12192

    View details for Web of Science ID 000349435400022

  • Socially relevant ethnic groups, ethnic structure, and AMAR JOURNAL OF PEACE RESEARCH Birnir, J. K., Wilkenfeld, J., Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D., Gurr, T. R., Brancati, D., Saideman, S. M., Pate, A., Hultquist, A. S. 2015; 52 (1): 110-115
  • Muslims in France: identifying a discriminatory equilibrium JOURNAL OF POPULATION ECONOMICS Adida, C. L., Laitin, D. D., Valfort, M. 2014; 27 (4): 1039-1086
  • WOMEN, MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS, AND ECONOMIC INTEGRATION IN FRANCE ECONOMICS & POLITICS Adida, C. L., Laitin, D. D., Valfort, M. 2014; 26 (1): 79-95

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ecpo.12027

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329790600005

  • Immigration into Europe: Economic Discrimination, Violence, and Public Policy ANNUAL REVIEW OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, VOL 17 Dancygier, R. M., Laitin, D. D. 2014; 17: 43-64
  • Fisheries Management POLITICAL ANALYSIS Laitin, D. D. 2013; 21 (1): 42-47

    View details for DOI 10.1093/pan/mps033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313650100005

  • Geographic axes and the persistence of cultural diversity PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Laitin, D. D., Moortgat, J., Robinson, A. L. 2012; 109 (26): 10263-10268

    Abstract

    Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel [Diamond J, (1997) Guns, Germs, and Steel (WW Norton, NY)] has provided a scientific foundation for answering basic questions, such as why Eurasians colonized the global South and not the other way around, and why there is so much variance in economic development across the globe. Diamond's explanatory variables are: (i) the susceptibility of local wild plants to be developed for self-sufficient agriculture; (ii) the domesticability of large wild animals for food, transport, and agricultural production; and (iii) the relative lengths of the axes of continents with implications for the spread of human populations and technologies. This third "continental axis" thesis is the most difficult of Diamond's several explanatory factors to test, given that the number of continents are too few for statistical analysis. This article provides a test of one observable implication of this thesis, namely that linguistic diversity should be more persistent to the degree that a geographic area is oriented more north-south than east-west. Using both modern states and artificial geographic entities as the units of analysis, the results provide significant confirmation of the relationship between geographic orientation and cultural homogenization. Beyond providing empirical support for one observable implication of the continental axis theory, these results have important implications for understanding the roots of cultural diversity, which is an important determinant of economic growth, public goods provision, local violence, and social trust.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1205338109

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306291400041

    View details for PubMedID 22689972

  • A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero's Spain (Book Review) POLITICAL THEORY Book Review Authored by: Laitin, D. D. 2012; 40 (3): 387-394
  • Sons of the Soil, Migrants, and Civil War WORLD DEVELOPMENT Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. 2011; 39 (2): 199-211
  • Rational Islamophobia in Europe ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. 2011; 51 (3): 429-447
  • Identifying barriers to Muslim integration in France PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Adida, C. L., Laitin, D. D., Valfort, M. 2010; 107 (52): 22384-22390

    Abstract

    Is there a Muslim disadvantage in economic integration for second-generation immigrants to Europe? Previous research has failed to isolate the effect that religion may have on an immigrant family's labor market opportunities because other factors, such as country of origin or race, confound the result. This paper uses a correspondence test in the French labor market to identify and measure this religious effect. The results confirm that in the French labor market, anti-Muslim discrimination exists: a Muslim candidate is 2.5 times less likely to receive a job interview callback than is his or her Christian counterpart. A high-n survey reveals, consistent with expectations from the correspondence test, that second-generation Muslim households in France have lower income compared with matched Christian households. The paper thereby contributes to both substantive debates on the Muslim experience in Europe and methodological debates on how to measure discrimination. Following the National Academy of Sciences' 2001 recommendations on combining a variety of methodologies and applying them to real-world situations, this research identifies, measures, and infers consequences of discrimination based on religious affiliation, controlling for potentially confounding factors, such as race and country of origin.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1015550107

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285684200012

    View details for PubMedID 21098283

  • Fifth Nations and Nationalism debate on David Laitin's Nations, States, and Violence NATIONS AND NATIONALISM Green, E. D., Banton, M., Guibernau, M., Laitin, D. 2009; 15 (4): 557-574
  • Immigrant Communities and Civil War Annual Meeting of the American-Political-Science-Association Laitin, D. D. WILEY-BLACKWELL. 2009: 35–59
  • Religion, terrorism and public goods: Testing the club model JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ECONOMICS Berman, E., Laitin, D. D. 2008; 92 (10-11): 1942-1967
  • American Immigration through Comparativists' Eyes COMPARATIVE POLITICS Laitin, D. D. 2008; 41 (1): 103-?
  • The political science of Peter J. Katzenstein PS-POLITICAL SCIENCE & POLITICS Gourevitch, P. A., Keohane, R. O., Krasner, S. D., Laitin, D., Pempel, T. J., Streeck, W., Tarrow, S. 2008; 41 (4): 893-899
  • Ethnic minority rule and Civil War onset AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Fearon, J. D., Kasara, K., Laitin, D. D. 2007; 101 (1): 187-193
  • A theory of endogenous institutional change AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Greif, A., Laitin, D. D. 2004; 98 (4): 633-652
  • Whither political science? Reflections on Professor Sartori's claim that that "American-type political science ... is going nowhere. It is an ever growing giant with feet of clay PS-POLITICAL SCIENCE & POLITICS Laitin, D. D. 2004; 37 (4): 789-791
  • "Misunderestimating" terrorism - The state departments big mistake FOREIGN AFFAIRS Krueger, A. B., Laitin, D. D. 2004; 83 (5): 8-13
  • Ethnic unmixing and civil war SECURITY STUDIES Laitin, D. D. 2004; 13 (4): 350-365
  • Neotrusteeship and the problem of weak states INTERNATIONAL SECURITY Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. 2004; 28 (4): 5-43
  • Integration of research and theory in the perspective of John Goldthorpe ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. D. 2004; 45 (3): 411-416
  • The political science discipline 97th Annual Meeting of the American-Political-Science-Association Laitin, D. D. OHIO STATE UNIV PRESS. 2004: 11–59
  • Whither political science? - Thoughts on an afirmation by Sartori that American political science is headed nowhere POLITICA Y GOBIERNO Laitin, D. D. 2004; 11 (2): 361-367
  • Three models of integration and the Estonian/Russian reality Conference on Multicultural Estonia Laitin, D. D. ASSOC ADVANCEMENT BALTIC STUDIES INC. 2003: 197–222
  • The Perestroikan challenge to social science POLITICS & SOCIETY Laitin, D. D. 2003; 31 (1): 163-184
  • Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. 2003; 97 (1): 75-90
  • The political science discipline 97th Annual Meeting of the American-Political-Science-Association Laitin, D. D. OHIO STATE UNIV PRESS. 2003: 11–59
  • Culture and national identity: 'The east' and european integration WEST EUROPEAN POLITICS Laitin, D. D. 2002; 25 (2): 55-?
  • Secessionist rebellion in the former Soviet Union Conference on Beyond State Crisis - The Quest for the Efficacious State in Africa and Eurasia Laitin, D. D. SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC. 2001: 839–61
  • Are ethnic groups biological "species" to the human brain? Essentialism in our cognition of some social categories Meeting of the Human-Behavior-and-Evolution-Society Gil-White, F. J. UNIV CHICAGO PRESS. 2001: 515–54
  • Russian-speakers in Ukraine and Kazakhstan: "Nationality," "population," or neither? Comment POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS Laitin, D. D. 2001; 17 (2): 159-163
  • Post-Soviet politics ANNUAL REVIEW OF POLITICAL SCIENCE Laitin, D. D. 2000; 3: 117-148
  • What is a language community? AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE Laitin, D. D. 2000; 44 (1): 142-155
  • Language conflict and violence: the straw that strengthens the camel's back ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. D. 2000; 41 (1): 97-137
  • Armenia and Azerbaijan: Thinking a way out of Karabakh MIDDLE EAST POLICY Laitin, D. D., Suny, R. G. 1999; 7 (1): 145-176
  • Toward a political science discipline - Authority patterns revisited COMPARATIVE POLITICAL STUDIES Laitin, D. D. 1998; 31 (4): 423-443
  • The cultural identities of a European state Quo Vadis Europa, 2000 Conference Laitin, D. D. SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC. 1997: 277–302
  • Explaining interethnic cooperation 91st Annual Meeting of the American-Political-Science-Association Fearon, J. D., Laitin, D. D. CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS. 1996: 715–35
  • THE QUALITATIVE-QUANTITATIVE DISPUTATION - KING,GARY KEOHANE,ROBERT,O., AND VERBA,SIDNEY DESIGNING SOCIAL INQUIRY - SCIENTIFIC INFERENCE IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Anonymous 1995; 89 (2): 454-454
  • NATIONAL REVIVALS AND VIOLENCE ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Laitin, D. D. 1995; 36 (1): 3-43
  • MARGINALITY - A MICROPERSPECTIVE RATIONALITY AND SOCIETY Laitin, D. D. 1995; 7 (1): 31-57
  • THE TOWER-OF-BABEL AS A COORDINATION GAME - POLITICAL LINGUISTICS IN GHANA AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Laitin, D. D. 1994; 88 (3): 622-634
  • LANGUAGE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF STATES - THE CASE OF CATALONIA IN SPAIN POLITICS & SOCIETY Laitin, D. D., SOLE, C., Kalyvas, S. N. 1994; 22 (1): 5-29
  • THE GAME-THEORY OF LANGUAGE REGIMES INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW Laitin, D. D. 1993; 14 (3): 227-239
  • MIGRATION AND LANGUAGE SHIFT IN URBAN INDIA 1989 SPRING SEMINAR OF THE UNIV WASHINGTONS PROGRAM ON THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY : LANGUAGE IN POWER Laitin, D. D. MOUTON DE GRUYTER. 1993: 57–72
  • LANGUAGE NORMALIZATION IN ESTONIA AND CATALONIA JOURNAL OF BALTIC STUDIES Laitin, D. D. 1992; 23 (2): 149-166
  • LANGUAGE, IDEOLOGY, AND THE PRESS IN CATALONIA AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST Laitin, D. D., Gomez, G. R. 1992; 94 (1): 9-30
  • STRUCTURE AND IRONY IN SOCIAL REVOLUTIONS POLITICAL THEORY Laitin, D. D., Warner, C. M. 1992; 20 (1): 147-151