Ahlquist has done substantial work examining the political and economic behavior of labor unions. His work to date focuses on how legal and political institutions interact with unions’ organizational rules to affect union behavior and public policy. More generally he is concerned with how societies balance desires for fairness and equity with dynamic growth and innovation. Ahlquist teaches classes on the interactions between markets and government, the politics of income inequality, and applied statistics.
In the News
Develops a new theory of leadership and organizational governance to explain why some organizations expand their scope of action to include political activism, especially around issues that have little to do with members’ immediate economic interests. Finds that the evidence drawn from an extensive study of transport industry unions in the United States and Australia is largely consistent with this theory and difficult to explain using other competing accounts; also uncovers evidence that participating in activist organizations can induce profound transformations in rank-and-file members’ beliefs about their political efficacy.
Finds no evidence of widespread voter impersonation, even in the states most contested in the presidential or statewide campaigns. Shows that states with strict voter ID laws and states with same-day voter registration are no different from others in the (non)existence of voter impersonation. Indicates that the proportion of the population reporting voter impersonation is indistinguishable from that reporting abduction by extraterrestrials.
Studies whether partisanship colors voters' assessments of institutional changes. Provides the first experimental evidence that partisan-motivated reasoning applies not only to public policy under fixed institutions but also to changes to the institutional rules of a political system.
Indicates that (1) willingness to vote in favor of a social insurance policy is highly responsive to unemployment risk, (2) symmetric, mutual dependence is unrelated to support for insurance, but (3) asymmetric dependence (being dependent on someone else) increases support for social insurance.
Examines several competing explanations for the fact that the Internal Longshore and Warehouse Union opposes trade liberalization although these workers have benefited from the growth of trade. Evaluates them by tracing the union's stance on trade over several decades. Indicates that the political support for trade depends not just on voters' structural positions in the economy but also on the organizations and networks in which they are embedded.
Proposes a theory in which fiscal redistribution dampens the willingness of citizens to borrow to fund current consumption. Finds that countries with limited histories of left-wing participation in government are significantly more likely to see credit expansion as prefisc inequality grows compared to those in which the political left has been more influential.