Nikitas Konstantinidis

I am currently a Fellow in Political Science and Public Policy in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I came to the LSE after spending two years as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institut Barcelona d’ Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). I received my Ph.D. in Political Economy from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and have further pursued postgraduate studies at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and undergraduate studies at LSE. My main research interests lie in the areas of comparative and international political economy, applied formal theory, regional integration, international organizations, and European Union politics. Current research projects include among others the political economy of military conscription and the formal study of high- and low- powered mechanisms of conditionality and compliance in the EU. On this page you may access information about my research and teaching and download some of my working papers and published articles. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or inquiries. For a short CV, click here.


Department of Government
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)20 7849 4686
F: +44 (0)20 7955 6352







"Optimal Committee Design and Political Participation"
(Journal of Theoretical Politics, published online before print, doi: 10.1177/0951629812470557)
Abstract: Building on a Condorcetian common values framework, this paper tackles the question of optimal committee formation within a community of finite size. Solving for the Bayesian information aggregation game yields some interesting normative results that emphasize i) the presence of informational externalities as root causes of suboptimally low voluntary participation levels in communal decision-making and ii) the Pareto-enhancing nature of drafting vis-à-vis decentralized mechanisms of self-selection. I, first, derive the optimal size of a committee based on the assumption of informative voting and, then, I show that this is a globally optimal solution to the dual optimization problem of optimal committee design. I, subsequently, compare it to the various symmetric equilibria that may arise in a complete information setting or a Bayesian environment with heterogeneous private costs. I finally sketch out an optimal transfer scheme that can ex ante implement the socially efficient committee size.

"Military Conscription, Foreign Policy, and Income Inequality: The Missing Link"
(2011, LSE PSPE Working Paper No. 2)
Abstract: This paper seeks to analyze the political economy of military conscription policy and its relationship with a country's foreign policy outlook (hawkish or dovish). National security is modeled as a non-rivalrous and non-excludable public good, whose production technology consists of either centrally conscripted or competitively recruited labor. Conscription is construed as an 'implicit' discretionary tax on citizens' labor endowment. Based on this, I propose a simple political economy model of pure public goods provision financed by two policy instruments: a lump-sum income and a conscription tax. Constraint optimization of a quasi-linear utility function subject to labor market clearing and budget balancing gives rise to three general classes of preferences: high and low-skilled citizens will prefer an all-professional army, albeit of different size, while medium-skilled citizens favor positive levels of conscription. I further tease out the relationship between conscription policy and the level of external threat to a country, its political regime, and its pre-tax inequality levels.

"The Political Economy of Resource Rent Distribution"
(2009, IBEI Working Paper No. 19)
Abstract: I model the link between political regime and level of diversification following a windfall of natural resource revenues. The explanatory variables I make use of are the political support functions embedded within each type of regime and the disparate levels of discretion, openness, transparency, and accountability of government. I show that a democratic government seeks to maximize the long-term consumption path of the representative consumer, in order to maximize its chances of re-election, while an authoritarian government, in the absence of any electoral mechanism of accountability, seeks to buy off and entrench a group of special interests loyal to the government and potent enough to ensure its short-term survival. Essentially the contrast in the approaches towards resource rent distribution comes down to a variation in political weights on aggregate welfare and rentierist special interests endogenized by distinct political support functions.

"Gradualism and Uncertainty in International Union Formation: The European Community’s First Enlargement"
(2008, Review of International Organizations, 3)
Abstract: This paper introduces a new theoretical framework of international unions qua coalitions of countries adopting a common policy and common supranational institutions. I make use of a three-country spatial bargaining game of coalition formation, in order to examine the endogenous strategic considerations in the creation and enlargement of international unions. Why would we observe a gradualist approach in the formation of the grand coalition even if the latter is assumed to be weakly efficient? I propose asymmetric information about the benefits of integration as a mechanism that can generate gradual union formation in equilibrium. As it turns out, it may well be in the ‘core’ countries’ interest to delay the accession of a third, ‘peripheral’ country in order to (1) stack the institutional make-up of the initial union in their favor and (2) signal their high resolve to wait out the expansion of their bilateral subunion. A related case from the European experience provides an interesting illustration.


Working Papers

"Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Incentives for Reform: An Informational Mechanism of EU Conditionality"
Abstract: How does the prospect of EU accession affect candidate members'’ incentives to implement political and economic reforms? On the ‡flip side of the question, how does the threat of expulsion from a union affect a member-state government’'s political will for compliance with existing policy standards and criteria? To answer these questions, we propose an informational mechanism of EU conditionality drawing on Bénabou and Tirole'’s (2003) formalization of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In a Bayesian game of enlargement between a principal (EU Commission) and an agent (candidate-member government), we fi…nd that the extrinsic bonus of post-accession transfers may, on one hand, reinforce short-term incentives to satisfy membership criteria, yet, at the same time, it will increase moral hazard by '’crowding out' ’the agent’s intrinsic motivation to liberalize in the long-term. As a result, we expect that i) net-recipient countries' ’post-accession pace of reform will decline over time, ii) the '’crowding-out' ’effect will be stronger for countries that enjoy higher levels of net transfers, and iii) ‘'early liberalizers' ’are ex ante more likely to accept the conditionality package and implement the necessary reforms for accession. We corroborate our predictions with anecdotal evidence and case studies from the EU'’s Eastern enlargement and the Eurozone'’s debt crisis.

"Military Manpower Systems and Economic Inequality: An Empirical Model Revisited 1950-2005"
Abstract: Military conscription is one of the constitutive policy bargains of the modern state. From a political economy perspective taxation and conscription may be viewed as substitutable instruments of foreign and defense policy. Existing empirical studies focus mostly on the ‘political’ causal link from the choice of military manpower systems (conscript vs. professional) to defense policy as is primarily expressed by the projection of ‘hard’ military force. We, on the other hand, use a time-series cross-section (TSCS) original data set (1950-2005 state-years) to test the ‘economic’ causal link from economic (and political) inequality to the choice of military manpower system. We find that more egalitarian societies will tend to conscript at a higher rate. We manage to capture the richness of cross-country and cross-time variation in types of military organization by using both effective and statutory continuous measures of military conscription, in order to control for the discrepancy between legally enacted and effectively enforced levels of conscription. Panel-corrected standard errors and distributed lags are estimated to correct for temporal dependence, policy inertia, and other identification concerns.

"International Treaty Ratification and Party Competition: Theory and Evidence from the EU's Constitutional Treaty" with Andreas Dür
Abstract: What explains a party's dual decision to endorse or not endorse a referendum on an international treaty and to support or oppose that treaty in a referendum campaign? Treating referendums as second-order elections with an uncertain outcome we propose a probabilistic game of electoral competition between government and opposition, wherefrom we derive a number of hypotheses regarding the impact of timing, public opinion, and political capital. Data on the position of 175 parties in 24 member states of the European Union (EU) on the appropriate rati cation instrument for the EU's Constitutional Treaty and their substantive position with respect to the Treaty itself allow us to test these expectations against empirical evidence. The results of a multinomial logistic regression model provide solid support for our theoretical reasoning.

"On the Political Geometry of International Unions: A Coalition-Theoretic Approach"
Abstract: This paper examines the endogenous strategic considerations in simultaneously creat- ing, enlarging, and deepening an international union of countries within a framework of variable geometry. We introduce a coalition-theoretic model to examine the equilibrium relationship between union size and scope. What is the equilibrium (stable) size and scope of an international union and how do these variables interact? When should we expect countries to take advantage of more flexible modes of integration and how does that possibility affect the pace and depth of integration? In tackling these questions, we characterize the various policy areas of cooperation with respect to their cross-country and cross-policy spillovers, their efficiency scales, the heterogeneity of preferences, and the general cost structure. We then go on to show that the enlargement of a union and the widening of its policy scope are too symbiotic and mutually reinforcing dynamic processes under certain conditions. This is an exciting research puzzle given that current game-theoretic predictions have been at odds with the empirical reality of European integration.

"An Empirical Model of Sequential Strategic Voting"
Abstract: Based on the results of a game-theoretic model by Meirowitz and Tucker (2003), this paper develops an empirical model of sequential strategic voting in the context of consecutive elections of unequal institutional importance (first- vs. second-order elections). The main hypothesis emerging from the theoretical model’s predictions consists of a curvilinear effect of the time elapsed between any two consecutive asymmetric elections on the degree of vote share congruence both at the party and the country level. Drawing on cross-European electoral data inclusive of elections for the European Parliament, we do find a significant non-linear effect as evidence of strategic voting using both parametric and non-parametric regression methods. As it turns out, the effect is more prevalent among incumbent parties.