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Benjamin S. Morse

PhD Candidate in Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Foreign Policy
  • Criminal Justice
  • International Development

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About Benjamin

Morse's research focuses on the political economy of development in West Africa. In his dissertation, he examines strategies to improve citizen trust and cooperation with the police in countries with weak rule of law. he is also active in research to inform humanitarian policy and response. 

Prior to MIT, he worked for Innovations for Poverty Action in New York, Mexico, and Liberia, and as a consultant for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Liberia. He holds a B.A. in Government from Colby College, and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Contributions

Why Citizen Trust in Government Matters — Especially when Crises Strike

  • Benjamin S. Morse

Publications

"Establishing the Rule of Law in Weak and War-Torn States: Evidence from a Field Experiment with the Liberian National Police" (with Robert Blair and Sabrina Karim). American Political Science Review (forthcoming).

Reports results from an experimental evaluation of the Liberian National Police's "Confidence Patrols" program, which deployed teams of newly-retrained, better-equipped police officers on recurring patrols to rural communities across three Liberian counties over a period of 14 months.

"Building Trust and Cooperation in Weak States: Persuasion and Source Accountability in Liberia during the 2014-2015 Ebola Crisis" MIT Political Science Research Paper Series (2019).

Studies the effectiveness of Liberian government's door-to-door canvassing campaign during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic by combining data from an original, representative survey of Monrovia conducted during the crisis with plausibly as-if random variation in where the campaign was and was not able to reach. 

"Violence, Empathy, and Altruism: Evidence from the Ivorian Refugee Crisis in Liberia" (with Alexandra Hartman). British Journal of Political Science (2018): 1-25.

Proposes that violence can increase individuals' capacity to empathize with others, and that empathy born of violence can in turn motivate helping behavior across group boundaries. Tests these hypotheses using data on the hosting behavior of over 1500 Liberians during 2010-2011 Ivorian refugee crisis in eastern Liberia, a region with a long history of cross-border, inter-ethnic violence. 

"Public Health and Public Trust: Evidence from the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic in Liberia" (with Robert Blair and Lily Tsai). Social Science & Medicine 172 (2017): 89-97.

Uses results from a representative survey conducted during the 2014-15 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in Monrovia, Liberia to assess the relationship between trust in government and compliance with EVD control interventions.

"Patterns of Demand for Non-Ebola Health Services during and after the Ebola Outbreak: Panel Survey Evidence from Monrovia, Liberia" (with Karen A. Grépin, Robert A. Blair, and Lily Tsai). BMJ Global Health 1, no. 1 (2016).

Uses data from a population-based panel survey conducted in the late-crisis period and two post-crisis periods to track trends in (1) the prevalence of adult and child illness, (2) usage of health services and (3) the determinants thereof.