“Education Bulge: How Poor Returns to Higher Education Influence Mass Protest Onset and Outcomes”.

In many authoritarian regimes, the government is the primary employer and public sector positions are lucrative and secure. Public sector positions are staffed by highly skilled workers, who are often educated and trained at state-run universities. My research shows that when government is both the main provider of higher education and the main employer of skilled labor, the public in general, and university graduates in particular, come to see government as responsible for all forms of employment, both private and public. Shrinkages in the job market during periods of rapid higher education growth, or an education bulge, may prompt mass anti-governmental protests.

During an education bulge, university educated workers that face declining college premiums may seek out semi and unskilled positions, displacing and replacing employees with less education. Large-scale “downshifting” of skilled labor due to an education bulge has strongly negative downstream effects upon labor configurations and wages, inducing society-wide grievance. Education bulges encourage the emergence and success of mass protests in previously impervious authoritarian regimes. Dissertation Abstract

Supported by:  Diversifying Higher Education Faculty (DFI), Adam Smith Fellowship 


Turner K. and Kiela Crabtree. 2020. “Reclaiming the Public Space” under review at Social Sciences Quarterly.


Turner, Kimberly and Charmaine Willis. July 2020. “Unexpected Impacts: Cooperation and Conflict in Times of COVID-19”. The Globe Post.

Turner, Kimberly. “Beware the “Outside Agitator” Dog Whistle. Ducks of Minerva. June 2020.


Turner, Kimberly. “From Victim to Victor: Documenting the Struggles and Triumphs of Women of the Third World”. Review of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn, Half the Sky (New York, New York: Alfred Knoff, 2009) for NAFSA: Association of International Educators Review of Global Studies Literature October 2010, no.2.

Turner, Kimberly. “Peter Hayden: Sea Power and maritime strategy in the 21st century”. American Review of Canadian Studies: Volume 31, Issue 3, October 2001.

Working Papers 

A Win or A Flop? Identifying and Estimating Unintended Protest Costs in Measuring Success Outcomes

The protest literature has struggled to define or measure protest success. Few, if any, studies rigorously examine how to identify and measure the overall effects of protest movements, as characterized by the intended and unintended consequences of a protest. The lack of conceptual clarity on what constitutes a success and the scarcity of an established scaling system for protest outcomes undermines the field’s ability to accurately estimate protest movement success. This study seeks to address gaps in previous literature by offering an preliminary scaling system of protests outcomes that allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of movements by incorporating unintended impacts into the estimation analysis.

“Why Don’t People of Color Attend Conferences?” 

Is there a participation gap between academics of color and their white colleagues in attending and participating at national and regional political science conferences? Despite the large number of people of color who attend graduate school in political science, there is a question of why conference participation among these groups fail to reflect their levels of representation in the field. The under representation of people of color at national and regional conferences reflects sustained barriers to minority inclusion to the field, as conferences are important pipelines to jobs, networking, exposure, and professional development.

Conference Presentations

  • “The Education Bulge: How Higher Education Attainment Drives Protest Onset and Outcomes.” Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, April 2019        abstract
  • “The Education Bulge: The Road to Mass Protest”. Journeys in World Politics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, October 2018. Invited Talk.
  • Turner, Kimberly and Emily Stacy. “Why Don’t People of Color Attend Conferences?” American Political Science Association annual meeting, August 2018 and MPSA annual conference 2018. abstract
  • “Why Hong Kong? Protest, Success, and Resistance in The Face of Overwhelming Odds”. Junior Scholar Symposium: Popular Mobilization and Democratization. Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, April 2018. abstract
  • “Hong Kong: A Success in the Making.” Southern Political Science Association annual meeting, January 2018.
  •  “The Return of Radical Student Group”. Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, April 2015
  • “Education as a Security Threat”. Southern Political Science Association annual meeting, January 2015. abstract
  •  “The Unwashed Masses: Does Education Provoke Revolution?” Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, April 2013 and the canceled American Political Science Association annual meeting, New Orleans 2012.
  • Turner, Kimberly and Emily O’Neal, “Opportunities and Challenges in Teaching Research Methods in a General Education Course at a Community College.” American Political Science Association Teaching and Learning Conference, February 2011.