Jared J. Finnegan

Jared J. Finnegan

PhD Candidate

Department of Government

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About me


I am a Ph.D. candidate in political science in the Department of Government. I am also affiliated with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. I study the comparative political economy of the high-income democracies with a focus on climate and energy policy. I am interested in how governments, firms and voters think about and address long-term problems. My thesis, “Low carbon for the long term: The comparative political economy of climate policy investment”, focuses on the role of political institutions and electoral incentives in structuring the distributional politics of long-term climate policymaking within and between countries. Before my doctoral studies, I was a Research Analyst at the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Research interests: Climate change and energy policy | Long-term policy | Comparative political economy of high-income democracies | Comparative capitalism | Institutions | Electoral competition and consumer prices | State-business relationship

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Teaching record

  • GV227: The Politics of Economic Policy (LSE, 2015-16)
  • IR102: Capitalism, Democracy and Equality: The Political Economy of the Advanced Nations (LSE Summer School 2015-18)

Thesis

Low carbon for the long term: The comparative political economy of climate policy investment

Why do some countries do much to address long-term problems like climate change while others do little? This thesis provides novel arguments for how institutions and electoral incentives generate opportunities for governments to arrive at political bargains that impose short-term costs for long-term benefits. Across countries, I show how electoral rules and interest group intermediation systematically structure the conditions needed for politicians to make long-term climate policy investments. I also look within countries over time and provide the first theoretical arguments and empirical evidence that link electoral competitiveness to fossil fuel taxation. By structuring political risk, competition influences political incentives for imposing costs on voters via increased carbon taxation. I find support for my arguments using new data on shadow carbon prices and unique datasets of long-run gasoline taxation across high-income democracies (1978-2013) and U.S. states (1919-2016).

Job Market Paper

Changing Prices in a Changing Climate: Electoral Competitiveness and Fossil Fuel Taxation

For over 40 years, economists have advocated carbon taxes as the most efficient policy for addressing climate change. However, not all governments have increased the price of fossil fuels. When do politicians decide to increase consumer prices? This paper highlights the role of electoral competitiveness. I argue that carbon tax increases are most likely when competitiveness is low and politicians are insulated from voter punishment. Moreover, this effect depends on the personal costs that tax increases impose on voters. If a good is not widely consumed, politicians can tax it more easily, even when competition is high. I test this explanation using a unique dataset on gasoline taxes and new data on electoral competitiveness across high-income democracies between 1978 and 2013. The results are consistent with the theory. In addition, a case study of eco-tax reform in Germany across two sequential electoral periods demonstrates how changes in the electoral fortunes of the Social Democratic-Green coalition generated changes in fossil fuel tax policy. This analysis points to a crucial mechanism that plausibly accounts for the differential ability of governments to tackle a wider range of long-term policy challenges.

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