Jowei Chen
Jowei Chen
Assistant Professor,
Department of Political Science,
University of Michigan, 2009-

Jowei Chen
Department of Political Science
University of Michigan
5700 Haven Hall
505 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045

Telephone: (917) 861-7712


American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 57, No. 1: 200-217.

American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 54, No. 2: 301-322.

American Political Science Review. Vol. 101, No. 4: 657-676.

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 8, No. 3.
Reactions: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times. The Washington Post, The Orlando Sentinel, The Washington Monthly, Bloomberg News, Huffington Post, The Washington Times, Salon.
Abstract: While conventional wisdom holds that partisan bias in US legislative elections results from intentional partisan and racial gerrymandering, we demonstrate that substantial bias can also emerge from patterns of human geography. We show that in many states, Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and smaller industrial agglomerations such that they can expect to win fewer than 50 percent of the seats when they win 50 percent of the votes. To measure this "unintentional gerrymandering," we use automated districting simulations based on precinct-level 2000 presidential election results in several states. Our results illustrate a strong relationship between the geographic concentration of Democratic voters and electoral bias favoring Republicans.

Forthcoming, Journal of Theoretical Politics.
Abstract: We present a formal model explaining that U.S. presidents strategically unionize federal employees to reduce bureaucratic turnover and "anchor" the ideological composition of like-minded agency workforces. To test our model's predictions, we advance a method of estimating bureaucratic ideology via the campaign contributions of federal employees; we then use these bureaucratic ideal point estimates in a comprehensive empirical test of our model. Consistent with our model's predictions, our empirical tests find that federal employee unionization stifles agency turnover, suppresses ideological volatility when the president's partisanship changes, and occurs more frequently in agencies ideologically proximate to the president.

Conditionally Accepted, Quarterly Journal of Political Science.
Abstract: Article II Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives both the Senate and the President a role in the appointment of public bureaucrats. Yet, since the drafting of that constitutional passage, changes within the Senate and Executive have created new ways for officials to influence who gets appointed to the public bureaucracy. The Senate has developed intricate vetting procedures within its committees, while the Executive Branch has created new methods - such as the Schedule C designation - to facilitate the unilateral staffing of "inferior offices." To what extent do these institutional changes affect the ideological composition of appointments to the public bureaucracy? Our formal theory predicts that the investigative procedures of Senate committees allow chairs to block ideologically disparate nominations, thus compelling presidents to nominate moderates to Senate-confirmed post while placing extremists in Schedule C positions. Empirical analyses support these predictions: The probability of Senate confirmation declines with a nominee's ideological distance from the relevant committee chair and Schedule C appointees exhibit greater ideological extremism than Senate-confirmed appointees. These findings reveal how modern, institutional modifications of Article II Section 2 influence both the ideological composition of appointed federal bureaucrats and the struggle for power between branches of the U.S. federal government.

Forthcoming, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

Revise and Resubmit, State Politics and Policy Quarterly.

Revise and Resubmit, Electoral Studies.

Working Papers:

Abstract: How does the size of a legislature affect the competitiveness of its districts' elections? This paper theoretically develops and empirically tests three hypotheses concerning the effect of legislative chamber size on electoral competition and partisan gerrymandering. First, in swing states, legislature size has a negative effect on the fraction of districts that are electorally competitive; the intuition here is that smaller districts are more politically homogenous and thus less competitive. Second, in those few states that are extremely Democratic (e.g., New York) or extremely Republican (e.g., Alabama), legislature size has a single-peaked relationship with electoral competitiveness: Moderate-sized legislative chambers produce the most competitive districts. Finally, because political gerrymanderers often seek to manipulate electorally vulnerable districts, a decline in competitive districts should cause a decrease in partisan gerrymandering. Therefore, among swing states, larger legislative chambers should exhibit less gerrymandering than smaller chambers. To empirically test these three arguments, I first present data from state legislative election results during 1992-2002. I then conduct automated, repeated simulations of state legislature and Congressional districting across several states. These simulations allow us to isolate the effect of legislature size on electoral competitiveness, thus removing confounding factors such as gerrymandering, candidate quality, and incumbency advantage. Finally, in order to measure the extent of gerrymandering in each legislative chamber, I compare real-life districting plans against the simulated districting plans. By comparing these two sets of plans, I estimate the extent to which gerrymanderers politically manipulated legislative districts in the 2002 redistricting cycle.

Abstract: This paper presents a new method of estimating the ideal points of US federal agencies using the campaign contributions of bureaucrats employed by each agency. Ideal points are calculated by examining the Common Space DW-NOMINATE scores of incumbent federal politicians who receive campaign contributions from each agency's bureaucratic personnel. These ideal point estimates exhibit face validity under tests of some basic hypotheses about the partisan control of bureaucratic agencies. The substantive contribution of this paper is to show that the most right-wing agencies under a Republican administration often become the most leftwing agencies under a Democratic presidency. That is, agency ideal points under a Republican president exhibit a negative correlation with agency ideal points under a Democratic administration.