Gina Yannitell Reinhardt Ph.d.


Work in Progress


Effectiveness, Redefined: Getting Aid Donors What They Want.

(Book Manuscript). Manuscript Description (2 pages)

2014. Where Development Ends and Disasters Begin: Comparing Channels of Aid Delivery Across Three Recipient Types.

Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago, IL. Current Draft

It is generally accepted that bilateral foreign aid donors are strategically motivated in the allocation of their Official Development Assistance. Most scholars and policy makers, however, seem to think that if any type of assistance were not strategically motivated, it would be disaster and humanitarian relief. This special type of aid is, after all, given in quick response to unplanned critical events and given with recipient need as a priority. It is therefore putatively given with the least potential for the influence of donor strategic interests on allocation.

And yet, I find that donor strategic interests still factor in. I present new data of disaster assistance and foreign policy relations, created from documents and archival data. I examine assistance given after natural disasters, which is removed from the political tinge of conflict aid or aid to political refugees, and I look beyond national-level allocation patterns to investigate the channels through which aid is delivered. In so doing, I show how these channels illuminate patterns reflective of donor foreign policy priorities. The United States, for example, administers disaster assistance via government-to-government transfers when relations with recipient governments are strong but favor the US, via bypass channels when relations are strained, and via direct implementation (such as the Department of Defense) when alliances are at stake. The general allocation of assistance to disaster-stricken areas notwithstanding, donors still manage to strategically administer aid in ways designed to best meet their own needs.

2011. Gender, Disaster, and Trust. With Domonic Bearfield and Kishore Gawande.

Presented at the George Bush School of Government Working Paper Series at Texas A&M University, April 2011. Bush School Presentation

Women are often regarded as a vulnerable population by scholars and public officials. Studies find that women and men respond differently to risk. Conceptualizing trust along the lines of Rousseau et al (1998), who define trust as a “psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability,” we break women’s trust in public officials into two main components: competence-based trust and integrity-based trust. We investigate the intersection of gender, class (measured by education), and race, by examining two states: Florida and Texas, and three races: Black, Hispanic, and White. Historically, “Blacks” and “Hispanics” have been considered homogeneous in many investigations, but we contend that the culture and history of Black and Hispanic communities in Florida could be fundamentally different from those in Texas, and set out to investigate whether or not those differences can be perceived across class barriers, and if they are evidenced in perceptions of trust. We examine citizen trust in first responders’ competence, preparedness, and credibility when managing a disaster. Our survey was administered to people along the coastlines of the two states, one year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, asking about trust in respondents’ fire department, police department, and ambulance personnel. We find that Black women are significantly less trusting than White women, and that Floridian women are significantly more trusting than Texan women, with respect to all types of trust and all types of officials. We find that higher levels of education generally correspond to higher levels of trust, but that as Black and Hispanic women become more educated, they become less trusting of the credibility and preparedness of police, fire departments, and ambulance services.

2010. Aid’s Approach to Technical Efficiency: Stochastic Frontier Modeling Reveals Multi-Dimensionality. With Michael T. Koch.

Presented at the International Political Economy Society Conference, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Weatherhead Center of International Affairs, November 2010. IPES Presentation

Previous work on foreign aid focuses on aid effectiveness, measured in terms of GDP growth. Analysts claim aid is ineffective if they cannot find a “dollar in –> dollar out” relationship, viewing aid in terms of outputs. Studies of aid efficiency, meanwhile, focus on theoretical levels of aid donors should provide, in order to maximize growth. We take a different approach, using Stochastic Frontier Analysis in a new way, to ask: Is a dollar here better spent than a dollar there? Each donor gives aid to various recipients, and each recipient has a production possibility frontier of growth or development. The question is, does aid help recipients move toward that frontier, or away from it? We find that different types of aid have different effects on different measures of growth and development. Education aid and government security aid help countries move toward their growth frontier, while government accountability aid, population aid, and energy aid move countries away from the same frontier. Meanwhile, government accountability aid and population aid help recipients move toward their human development frontier (measured by literacy and infant mortality rates), but energy aid moves them away from that frontier. This model allows aid to break away from the artificial 1-to-1 relationship with growth imposed upon it by previous work, and this data gives us a picture of the way different types of aid can have contradictory effects on one country at the same time.

Peer-Reviewed Papers (Published and Under Review)

2015. First-Hand Experience and Second-Hand Information: Changing Trust across Three Levels of Government.

Review of Policy Research 32(3): 345-364. Link to Off-Print

Little is known about how different sources of information drive citizen trust in government. To address that gap this article compares disaster evacuees to observers, noting how trust differs as attention to media coverage increases. First-hand experience supplies information to update trust through biological and personal processes and performance assessments, while secondary sources provide information about other people’s experiences, filtered through lenses that take an active role in crafting information. These two types of information have varying effects depending on the level of government being trusted. Using surveys administered a year after Hurricane Katrina, I find that Katrina evacuees have the highest trust in federal government, until they start paying attention to media coverage, and that attention to coverage has the most dramatic effect on these evacuees compared to all other groups. I also find that increasing attention to second-hand information corresponds with higher trust in local officials, and that this effect decreases as the level of government increases. It appears media coverage creates a comparison in the mind of hurricane evacuees, causing them to update their performance assessments based on comparing their own experience to that which they observe, thereby updating their political trust.

2014. Changing Channels? Evaluating the Efficiency of Aid Delivery Mechanisms.

Under Review. Current Draft

Scholars and policy makers disagree on the best way to deliver foreign aid. Government channels are hailed as better for building capacity and creating policy ownership, while bypass channels allow corrupt and inept public officials to be side-stepped in aid delivery. This article compares the two channels in tandem to determine the conditions under which each is most efficient in spurring economic production and encouraging democratic consolidation in recipient countries. Studying US aid to 43 countries over 8 years, I find that government-channeled aid is more efficient than bypass aid at generating production and fostering consolidation in least-income countries with poor governance, but the efficiency in economic production plummets, and the efficiency in democratic consolidation increases, as governance improves. Overall, bypass aid is more efficient at spurring both production and consolidation, and these efficiencies increase with improvements in governance. Additionally, democratization efficiency levels are less than 20% of economic efficiency, suggesting aid is five times more efficient at achieving economic production than it is at achieving democratic consolidation. This article moves past searching for new ways to buy more growth or democracy, and instead investigates which of the available means is more efficient at achieving the development policy makers seek.

2014. Imagining Worse than Reality: Comparing Beliefs and Intentions between Disaster Evacuees and Survey Respondents.

Under Review. Current Draft

Changes in public perceptions lead to changes in beliefs, preferences, and behaviors. Do beliefs and behaviors change in different ways for people who live through disasters, as opposed to people who observe them? This study compares hypothetical hurricanes with actual hurricane effects, and finds that hypothetical hurricanes induce much stronger reactions than those observed in the natural world. Respondents considering a hypothetical hurricane exhibit exaggerated beliefs and opposite decisions of those who actually lived through either Hurricane Katrina or a disaster of lesser catastrophic import. Results underline the importance of examining the differences between public perceptions and experiential reality.

2014. Race, Trust, and Return Migration: The Political Drivers of Post‐Disaster Resettlement.

Under Review. Current Draft

After several disasters in the US, the return migration rate of Blacks to post-disaster areas has been lower than that of other races. Is there is a political reason for this pattern? I investigate political trust as the mechanism through which race affects people’s decision of where to live after forced evacuation. After accounting for economic, demographic, and sociological influences on return-migration, I find that political trust has a significant effect, acting as a mediator between race and return migration. I am thus able to show that race does not have a direct effect on return migration in the US, but that race works through the causal mechanism of political trust to determine return-migration decisions. Since Blacks are more likely to have low levels of political trust, and those with lower political trust are less likely to return, Blacks are less likely to return.


2013. Competing for the Platform: How Organized Interests affect Party Positioning in the United States.

With Jennifer Nicoll Victor. Under Review. Current Draft

Recent advances in political party theory suggest policy demanders comprise parties, and the composition of a party coalition varies from election to election. What explains which groups are included in a party coalition in any given cycle? We derive the conditions under which parties articulate an interest group’s preferred positions in its quadrennial platform using a game theoretic model, and predict when parties will respond to moderates at the median, or to off-median ideologues, and how these forces compete. We use content analysis on three years of DNC platforms and platform hearing testimony to test three implications of the model: parties include groups that are loyal and groups that are ideologically proximate, and group loyalty matters less as its mobilization resources increase. Theoretical and empirical results show that parties reward loyal groups that are ideologically near the party, but offer no empirical confirmation of a resource effect or interactive effect.

2013. Comparing Discrete Distributions: Survey Validation and Survey Experiments.

With Kishore Gawande, Domonic Bearfield, Carol Silva. 2013. Political Analysis, 21(1): 70-85.Published Paper

Field survey experiments often measure amorphous concepts in discretely ordered categories, with postsurvey analytics that fail to account for the discrete attributes of the data. This article demonstrates the use of discrete distribution tests, specifically the chi-square test and the discrete Kolmogorov–Smirnov (KS) test, as simple devices for comparing and analyzing ordered responses typically found in surveys. In Monte Carlo simulations, we find the discrete KS test to have more power than the chi-square test when distributions are right or left skewed, regardless of the sample size or the number of alternatives. The discrete KS test has at least as much power as the chi-square, and sometimes more so, when distributions are bi-modal or approximately uniform and samples are small. After deriving rules of usage for the two tests, we implement them in two cases typical of survey analysis. Using our own data collected after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we employ our rules to both validate and assess treatment effects in a natural experimental setting.

2009. Matching Donors and Nonprofits: The Importance of Signaling in Funding Awards.

In Journal of Theoretical Politics, 21(3): 283-309. Published Paper

The topic of nonprofit reform has sparked a debate on the battle between efficiency and effectiveness. Why do ineffective nonprofits survive? Prospective donors favor applicants likely to fulfill donor priorities. Donors with limited time and energy look for signals that reveal recipients’ true capabilities. Knowing this, recipients attempt to send the right signals to prospective donors. If the process of sending and reading signals is efficient, funding decisions will tend toward an optimal outcome in which only effective agencies survive. What signals do donors consider the most helpful? Are organizations that send such signals receiving the highest payoffs? What is the financial yield of each signal to recipients? This article uses a signaling game to sharpen our understanding of nonprofit fundraising and derive the conditions under which signals will be credible. Interview and survey evidence gathered in Brazil indicate that signals of accessibility, reliability, and credibility attract the highest payoffs.

2009. I Don’t Know Monica Lewinsky, and I’m Not in the CIA. Now How about that Interview?

PS: Political Science and Politics, 42(2): 295-298.Published Paper

When we embark upon work in the field, we carry with us not only our own preconceptions, but also characteristics of our identity that can condition our data collection. Reflections on my fieldwork in Brazil in 1998 explore the effects of nationality, gender, race, and isolation on performing work abroad.

2008. Giving and Receiving Foreign Aid: Does Conflict Count?

With Eliana Balla. World Development, 36(12): 2566-2585. Published Paper

Of what relative importance are strategic motivators for bilateral aid donors, and how important is a recipient’s geographic proximity to conflict relative to previously examined economic and political motivators? We find that donors have historically responded to balanced incentives to reduce recipient poverty and further donor political and economic goals. Every bilateral donor conditions aid on conflict. The United States allocates large amounts of development aid to countries bordering a conflict, both pre- and post-Cold War. However, controlling for development levels and donor economic and political interest, most donors reduce aid to a recipient with an in-house or nearby intense conflict.

2006. Shortcuts and Signals: An Organizational Analysis of Aid Allocation, with Case Study Evidence from Brazil.

Review of Development Economics, 10(2): 297-312. Published Paper | PDF

Does the distribution of foreign development assistance depend on the organizational capacity of the recipient organization? I argue that employees at donor agencies seek signals of which recipients will implement aid most effectively, and use these signals to determine the destination of foreign aid on the micro level. Qualitative evidence gathered in the US and Brazil indicates the types of signals donors seek and recipients strive to transmit: signals of a recipient’s professionalism, reputation, and sustainability. After developing a signaling game to derive the conditions under which these signals might be credible indicators of implementation effectiveness, I present quantitative evidence of aid recipient organizations in Brazil and score them on the three signals. Statistical tests confirm that organizations with higher levels of these signals are more likely to receive funding, suggesting that donors use these signals to determine the destination of development assistance.

2004. State-level Institutional Effects on Legislative Coalition Unity in Brazil.

With John M. Carey. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 29(6): 23-48. Published Paper | PDF

How do subnational factors affect the proclivity of legislators from the same party or coalition to vote together? We estimate the effects of two institutional forces operating at the state level—intralist electoral competition and alliance with governors—on voting unity among coalition cohorts to the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies. Larger cohorts, in which the imperative for legislators to distinguish themselves from the group is stronger, are less unified than smaller cohorts. We find no net effect of alliance with governors on cohort voting unity. Governors are not dominant brokers of legislative coalitions, a result suggesting that the net gubernatorial effect is contingent on factors that shape governors’ influence relative to that of national-level legislative actors.

*Separately reviewed and published in Portuguese as “Impacto das Instituições Estaduais na Unidade das Coalizões Parlamentares no Brasil.” 2003. DADOS: Revista Ciências Sociais, 46(4): 773-804.     Published Paper

Government Reports and Invited Publications

2008. Medicare Vulnerabilities: Payments for Claims Tied to Deceased Doctors.

Report to the United States Senate from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. 110th Cong, 2d Sess. Final Report

The Subcommittee reports that claims with deceased physician Medicare IDs were filed and reimbursed with dates of service over a year after the date of death of the physician. The Subcommittee exposed tens of millions of dollars of fraud and abuse of the Medicare system, estimated between $60 and $92 million, and found that up to 2900 IDs of deceased physicians still remained active in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services system.

2008. An ‘I’ on Congress: The Process and Products of Congressional Investigations.

PS: Political Science and Politics, 41(3): 666-669. Published Paper

This invited piece explores Congressional oversight from inside the staff of a Senate investigations committee. Reflecting on the who, what, how, where, and why of investigative constraints, rules, and practices, I explore avenues for future work on oversight and investigations, despite obvious limitations on confidentiality and data collection.