Research

Research Interests:

State and non-state governance, public goods and service provision, political participation, gender

Working Papers:

State-evading Solutions to Violence: Organized Crime and Governance in Indigenous Mexico - With Kristof Gosztonyi and Beatriz Magaloni (Stanford)

The paper uses homicide data from 1990 to 2016 in more than 2,400 municipalities to explore how community policing in indigenous communities impacts security. Through propensity score matching, geographic discontinuity, and a difference-in-difference statistical analysis, the paper shows that indigenous communities that are allowed to organize their own police are better able to deter drug cartels from invading their communities than similarly poor indigenous communities that have a state-sponsored local police. The paper uses extensive ethnographic work in Oaxaca as well as a large N survey to explore the mechanism that account for the remarkable difference in levels of violence among "usos" communities and those that are ruled by political parties.

Roadblocks Remain: Constraints to Women's Political Participation and Mobility in Pakistan - With Natalya Rahman (Stanford)

How can governments encourage political participation by all? In this study, we ask why certain groups are less likely to vote solely based on where they are assigned to vote, and argue that mobility plays an important role. We focus on Pakistan, the world's sixth-most populous country. Pakistan is among the lowest-ranked countries for women's political participation despite instituting reforms like single-gender polling stations. This paper uses 2018 polling station data to show that mixed-gender polling stations increase women's turnout. We also present descriptive findings to show that chance assignments to certain types of polling stations make women, but not men, more likely to turn out. We then use a survey experiment to test one possible explanation—mobility. Constraints to mobility have been shown to negatively impact women's educational and labor force choices, but their impact on women's political participation has not been directly tested. We find that when women's mobility is constrained by a lack of male accompaniment or they expect to travel along a predominantly male route, their likelihood to turn out decreases. We also find that women are more likely to vote in areas familiar to them (i.e. primary schools where they drop their children and girls' schools they attended). Our study implies that strategies to increase women's political participation in developing democracies should take seriously the role of women's mobility.

Can Party Elites Shape the Rank and File? Evidence from a Recruitment Campaign in India - With Saad Gulzar (Stanford), Durgesh Pathak (Aam Aadmi Party), and Aliz Tóth (Stanford)

Existing literature shows that parties strategically nominate candidates to match party elites' preferences and to maximize vote share. What is not understood is how elites may manipulate their party worker ranks prior to the candidate selection process, even though party workers are crucial to selecting candidates and promoting policy platforms. Can elites within political parties manipulate recruitment messages to shape party membership to their preferences? Our study addresses this question using a large-scale experiment within an Indian party's recruitment campaign. Fielding multiple surveys, we find that elites can strategically emphasize certain benefits of joining the party to manipulate party membership. In particular, signaling a willingness to award party tickets even to new recruits attracts those traditionally excluded from politics and those with more political experience. We also find that signaling concrete policy objectives of the party is likely to dissuade these people from signing up to join the party. We interpret this as evidence that party leaders can shape the composition of their membership merely by communicating existing benefits that the party offers, and without changing its core ideology.


Work in Progress:

Can Traditional Governance Adapt to Diversity? Evidence from Religious Expulsions in Mexico

A Field Experiment to Improve Women's Mobility in Pakistan (with Natalya Rahman; full funding secured and RCT to launch in 2022)