Tyler Kustra

Ph.D. Candidate in Politics
New York University

19 W. 4th St., Rm. 316
New York, NY



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I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Politics at New York University. My primary areas of research include international political economy, and security and conflict.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

HIV/AIDS, Life Expectancy, and the Opportunity Cost Model of Civil War

Journal of Conflict Resolution, forthcoming

This paper finds that declines in life expectancy decrease the opportunity cost of dying in combat, thereby increasing the probability of civil war. Expand abstract »

This paper views death in battle as an opportunity cost whose size is determined by the number of years a rebel would have lived as a civilian. As civilian life expectancy declines, this opportunity cost does too, increasing the probability of rebellion. The theory is tested with a tragic natural experiment: the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Using male circumcision rates as an instrument for life expectancy, the analysis shows that a one-year increase in life expectancy decreases the probability of civil war by 2.6 percentage points. This supports the theory that opportunity costs are important determinants of conflict onset and that non-pecuniary opportunity costs should be taken into account. The paper concludes by noting that cost-benefit analyses of public health interventions should include decreases in the probability of civil war, and the attendant benefits in terms of lives saved and material damage prevented, in their calculations.
Paper | Online appendix | Replication files

Economic Considerations in Designing Emergency Management Institutions and Policies for Transboundary Disasters

Public Management Review, 2013 with Adam Rose

This article provides an economic framework for designing transboundary emergency management institutions and policies to address transboundary crises. Expand abstract »

An increasing number of disasters are generating consequences that extend beyond political boundaries. This article provides an economic framework for designing transboundary emergency management institutions and policies to address these transboundary crises. It emphasizes the importance of economic considerations in two ways. First, we disaggregate economic losses into direct and indirect components, which vary in terms of their transboundary potential. Second, we apply economic principles such as scale economies, externalities and public goods in analysing European cooperation in emergency management. The article concludes by identifying the type of consequences that might best be addressed by a wider geographic and political authority.

Working Papers

Protectionism in Disguise? Does the United States Impose Sanctions on Countries Whose Imports Compete with Domestic Production

Is United States is more likely to impose economic sanctions on countries whose exports to the United States compete with domestic production from states which are swing states in the U.S. Presidential election? Expand abstract »

Are economic sanctions imposed by the United States for ostensibly foreign policy reasons, such as responding to military aggression or to improve human rights, are, in fact, non-tariff barriers in disguise? (Sanctions imposed over trade disputes are excluded from the analysis.) It is well known that the U.S. government has used tariffs to protect industries in politically important states and Congressional districts from foreign competition. This paper will test whether countries whose imports compete with these industries are more likely to face import sanctions.
Working paper | Replication files coming soon

Blog Posts

7 insights into the surprising results from the Canadian election The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2015

Here’s what to watch for when Canadians vote Monday The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, Oct. 19, 2015