Valuing Peace: The Effects of Financial Market Exposure on Votes and Political Attitudes

Thursday, January 12, 2017
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Encina Hall, 2nd floor

  • Saumitra Jha

- This talk is co-sponsored by the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) -

Abstract: Financial markets expose individuals to the broader economy. Does participation in financial markets also lead citizens to re-evaluate the costs of conflict, their views on politics and even their voting decisions? Prior to the 2015 Israeli elections, we randomly assigned financial assets from Israeli and Palestinian companies to likely voters and gave them incentives to actively trade for up to seven weeks. Exposure to financial markets systematically shifted vote choices and increased support for peace initiatives. We delineate the mechanisms for this change and show that financial market exposure led to learning and reevaluation of the economic costs of conflict.

About the Speaker: Saumitra Jha is an Associate Professor of Political Economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and, by courtesy, of Economics and of Political Science. Saumitra's research focuses upon understanding the effectiveness of organizations and innovations that societies have developed to address the problems of violence and other political risks, and to seek new lessons for fostering peace and development. Saum holds a BA from Williams College, master’s degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in economics from Stanford University. Prior to joining the GSB, he was an Academy Scholar at Harvard University. He has been a Fellow of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University and received the Michael Wallerstein Award for best published article in Political Economy from the American Political Science Association in 2014 for his research on ethnic tolerance. Saumitra has consulted on economic and political risk issues for the United Nations/ WTO and the World Bank.