Miles Williams


Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

My Research

In addition to my dissertation, I maintain a number of substantive and methodologically oriented research agendas. For the former, my research lies at the intersection of foreign policy, foreign aid, and multilateral development institutions. I also have applied text-as-data methods to study political communications by religious elites in collaboration with Ryan Burge (Eastern Illinois University). With respect to methods, my research emphasizes innovative applications of machine learning for covariate adjustment in observational data and extensions of model-based approaches to testing the empirical implications of theoretical models.

Below, you’ll find a summary of my interests, and of my research…



Political Economy of Aid

“Targeting Civil War: Intra-state Conflict and the Opportunity-cost of Foreign Aid.” (Revise and Resubmit) [pdf].

“A Strategic Political Economy of Aid” (Working Paper) [pdf]

“Competition and Buck-Passing in the Political Economy of Aid” (Working Paper) [pdf]

“Xinhua Coverage of Chinese Foreign Aid Allocations.” With Lucie Lu (Work-in-Progress) [See live updates on GitHub]

“Strategic Multilateralism: International Development Cooperation and the World Bank.” (Work-in-Progress) [See live updates on GitHub]

Machine Learning and Text-as-Data

“Leveraging the Black Box: Regression Adjustment via Random Forests.” (Working Paper) [pdf]

“Gender in the Pulpit: The Differences in Speaking Style for Men and Women.” (2019). With Ryan Burge (Journal Article) [pdf]

“Is Social Media a Digital Pulpit? How Evangelical Leaders Use Twitter to Encourage the Faithful and Publicize Their Work” (2019). With Ryan Burge (Journal Article) [journal site]

Policy Evaluation

“How Local Discretion Addresses Competing Allocation Goals: The Case of Small Business Relief Funding.” with Rebecca Johson, Heather Barry Kappes, Crystal C. Hall, Simone Zhang, and Elizabeth Bell.

Book Chapters

“World Bank.” with Matthew Winters. Forthcoming in the Handbook of International Orgnaizations: Theories, Concepts, and Empirical Insights. Eds. Katja Freistein, Julia Leininger, and Silke Weinlich. [pdf]

“Illinois 10th Congressional District: Re-rematch in Chicago Suburbs.” with Jeffrey Ashley. 2018. In The Roads to Congress 2016. Eds. Sean D. Foreman and Marcia L. Godwin. [book site]


“Reporting Statistical Results in Text and in Graphs”. with Ryan T. Moore and Russ Burnett. [pdf]


I occasionally have contributed to Religion in Public. In my latest contribution, I discuss links between anti-immigrant attitudes among religious conservatives in the U.S. and support for foreign aid spending.