"The Real Winner's Curse" (with Leopoldo Fergusson, Nelson Ruiz and Juan F. Vargas) [Download PDF] [Online Appendix] (Under Review)
We study the unintended consequences of political inclusion in a context of weak institutions. Using a regression discontinuity approach, we show that the narrow election of previously excluded left-wing parties to local executive office in Colombia results in an almost one-standard-deviation increase in violent attacks by right-wing paramilitaries, more than tripling the sample mean. We interpret this surge in violence as a de facto reaction of traditional political and economic elites, who seek to offset the increase in outsiders’ de jure political power. Consistent with this interpretation, we find that other types of violence are unaffected, and that levels of violence are not influenced by the victory of right-wing parties in close elections. Moreover, we show that the surge in paramilitary violence is concentrated in the year of the next election, which gives left-wing parties a large incumbency disadvantage in Colombia. Our findings highlight the dangers of broadening political inclusion in the absence of efforts to strengthen other institutional dimensions. Open elections that are not complemented by checks and balances to prevent the disproportional accumulation of political power by some groups in society may have unintended negative consequences.
"The Historical State, Local Collective Action and Economic Development in Vietnam" (with Melissa Dell and Nathan Lane) [Download PDF] [Online Appendix] (Under Review)
This study examines how the historical state conditions long-run development, using Vietnam as a laboratory. Northern Vietnam (Dai Viet) was ruled by a strong centralized state in which the village was the fundamental administrative unit. Southern Vietnam was a peripheral tributary of the Khmer (Cambodian) Empire, which followed a patron-client model with weaker, more personalized power relations and no village intermediation. Using a regression discontinuity design across the Dai Viet-Khmer boundary, the study shows that areas historically under a strong state have higher living standards today and better economic outcomes over the past 150 years. Rich historical data document that in villages with a strong historical state, citizens have been better able to organize for public goods and redistribution through civil society and local government. This suggests that the strong historical state crowded in village-level collective action and that these norms persisted long after the original state disappeared.
Evidence from the Philippines" (with Julien Labonne and Sahar Parsa) [Download PDF] (Under Review)
We provide evidence that political dynasties account for a large share of female mayors elected since 1988 in the Philippines. Following binding term-limits, female dynastic candidates related to the incumbent were more likely to win elected office. Moreover, the gender of incumbent’s relatives does not depend on municipal characteristics or on various characteristics of the previous incumbent and his family. We then compare outcomes in municipalities where term-limited incumbents are replaced by a female relative with outcomes in municipalities where they are replaced by a male relative. We find no evidence that dynastic female mayors have had any impact on policy, economic or electoral outcomes.
"Politician Family Networks and Electoral Outcomes: Evidence from the Philippines" (with Cesi Cruz and Julien Labonne) [Download PDF] [Technical Appendix] (forthcoming, American Economic Review).
"Political Brokers: Partisans or Agents? Evidence from the Mexican Teacher's Union" (with Horacio Larreguy and Cesar Montiel) [Download PDF] (forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science).
"Family and Politics: Dynastic Persistence in the Philippines", Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 11(2), pp. 151-181. [Download PDF] [Download Appendix PDF]
"When do Parties Buy Turnout? How Monitoring Capacity Facilitates Voter Mobilization in Mexico" (with Horacio Larreguy and John Marshall) American Political Science Review, 110(1), pp. 160-179, 2016. [Download PDF] [Download Appendix PDF]
"The Control of Politicians in Normal Times and Times of Crisis: Wealth Accumulation by U.S. Congressmen, 1850-1880" (with James M. Snyder, Jr.) Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2013 (8), p.409-450. [Download PDF] [Download Appendix PDF]
“The Desire to Return during Civil War: Evidence for Internally Displaced Populations in Colombia” (with Ma. Alejandra Arias and Ana María Ibáñez), Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 2014, Volume 20, Issue 1, p. 209-233.
“The Returns to U.S. Congressional Seats in the mid-19th Century” (with James M. Snyder, Jr.) in Aragones, E., Bevia, C., Llavador, H., Schofield, N., Eds. The Political Economy of Democracy, BBVA, Barcelona, 2009. [Download PDF]
“When Does Policy Reform Work? The case of Central Bank Independence” (with Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James A. Robinson), Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Spring 2008): 351-421 [Download PDF] [Data]
“Economic and Political Inequality in Development: the case of Cundinamarca, Colombia” (with Daron Acemoglu, Maria Angelica Bautista and James A. Robinson) in Elhanan Helpman, ed Institutions and Economic Performance, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2008 [Download PDF]