About Michael Touchton

Mike Touchton (Ph. D., University of Colorado) is an assistant professor of Political Science at Boise State University. He studies the comparative political economy of development and underdevelopment around the world- particularly in Asia and Latin America.

This is not the PhD advice you were Looking for, either

Some recent attention has focused on the difficulty of getting a tenure-track position in Political Science and thus the desirability of enrolling in a Ph. D. program in the first place. Dan Drezner in blog posts here and here has done an excellent job chronicling the long odds of getting a tenure-track job after earning a Ph. D., especially if this degree does not come from a highly-ranked program. Many of you reading the Quantitative Peace might be considering a Ph.D. and I think it’s worthwhile to not only acknowledge the difficulty of gaining tenure track employment, but the reasons Continue reading This is not the PhD advice you were Looking for, either

Teaching (and learning) Quantitative Analysis

I’ve spent the last few years teaching quantitative methods to undergraduate majors at Boise State. Ours is one of the few Political Science departments to require a two-course statistics sequence for our majors and we’re always seeking ways to improve the experience. As you might imagine, very few students become political science majors because they’re interested in quantitative analysis. However, we believe these research skills are essential for future political analysts to develop. A few years ago I embarked on an effort to experiment with my course delivery to help my students acquire quantitative analytic skills more easily. Here’s what Continue reading Teaching (and learning) Quantitative Analysis

A Comparative Perspective on Racial Polarization

Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about the politicization of race and ethnicity lately. Most of this has surrounded the emerging national conversation on systemic racism present in America and its impact on racial minorities in the country. This is an important, necessary conversation, but I’ve been especially interested in the ways race is politicized in the US- some subtle, some quite overt. Literature from Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Anthropology and Ethnic Studies regularly address issues of race around the world. However, I am most familiar with the political science and economics scholarship on ethnic fractionalization in Continue reading A Comparative Perspective on Racial Polarization

Divided Government Isn’t All Bad

The results of the midterm elections on November 4th have generated considerable hand-wringing in some circles over the Democrats’ loss of the Senate and the expected legislative gridlock that will result as in this piece in the Washington Post.  Political polarization and the gridlock that may result can harm countries that would benefit from necessary reforms because polarization decreases the chance of passing new legislation or reforming existing laws. This is what causes the hand-wringing: the prospects for solving policy problems such as immigration or infrastructure deficiencies in a way that is palatable to both Republicans or Democrats should decrease as Continue reading Divided Government Isn’t All Bad

Journal Acceptance Rates, Trends and Strategies

I was recently reflecting on Political Science as a discipline as I attended APSA along with many of you this past week. In particular, I had many discussions surrounding the seeming impossibility of placing certain articles in certain top journals compared to the relative ease of placing otherwise-comparable articles, but in different subfields or with well-known co-authors in similar journals. In the interests of full disclosure, I would like to note that I also do not have any publications in top-3 Political Science journals. John Conley’s recent study in Economics (here) shows how journal acceptance rates are dropping, whereas submission rates Continue reading Journal Acceptance Rates, Trends and Strategies

It’s Only Half-Time for Brazil’s Protest Movements

The story of this World Cup has been the matches – high scoring, surprise exits, unexpected advances and exciting play. Yet, several weeks before the Cup began, most coverage of the tournament fell into two camps. The first emphasized popular outrage at Brazil’s extensive spending on soccer stadiums and other improvements meant to streamline the flow of spectators around the country- all while inequality, corruption and poverty are still part of daily Brazilian life See these articles in the Wall Street Journal WSJ and in one of Brazil’s leading newspapers: Folha (English) The second camp focused on the seeming lack of preparation Continue reading It’s Only Half-Time for Brazil’s Protest Movements

Barriers to Market Entry, the Informal Sector and Growth

My first post for the Quantitative Peace highlights the pervasive problem registering a business poses for economic development around the world.  Entrepreneurs in developing countries often operate in the informal marketplace: transactions occur in a cash economy, taxes are rarely collected and enterprises are not represented in any formal, legal sense. These countries feature vibrant markets at the local level, but have great difficulty harnessing markets to achieve growth. One reason for this is entrepreneurs without legal standing cannot expand their businesses when their businesses do not officially exist. These entrepreneurs cannot use their assets as collateral for small-business loans, Continue reading Barriers to Market Entry, the Informal Sector and Growth