Peer-reviewed articles

Inclusive Institutions, Unequal Outcomes: Democracy, State Infrastructural Power and Inequality 1970-2015, with Hector Bahamonde, forthcoming at European Journal of Political Economy

Abstract: Although the relationship between democratic rule and income inequality has received important attention in recent literature, the evidence has been far from conclusive. In this paper, we explore whether the redistributive effect of democratic rule is conditional on state capacity. Previous literature has outlined that pre-existing state capacity may be necessary for inequality-reducing policies under democratic rule. In contrast to that intuitive view, this study argues that democratic rule and high state capacity combined produce higher levels of income inequality over time. This relationship operates through the positive effect of high-capacity democratic context on foreign direct investment and financial development. By making use of a novel measure of state capacity based on cumulative census administration, we find empirical support for these claims using fixed-effects panel regressions with the data from 126 industrial and developing countries between 1970 and 2013.

Informal Customary Institutions, Collective Action, and Submunicipal Public Goods Provision in Mexico , forthcoming at Latin American Politics and Society

Abstract: This article explores the role of informal customary institutions (usos y costumbres) in local public goods provision in Mexico. It argues that the presence of informal customary institutions offers submunicipal village communities considerable advantages in local distributive politics. Hamlet communities with dense customary institutions have higher collective action capacity to organize their citizens for small-scale protests in municipal centers, which grants them access to more social infrastructure projects controlled by municipal politicians. This article therefore suggests a novel theoretical mechanism through which customary institutions affect development outcomes: collective contentious action. The study tests the main empirical implications of this theory, drawing on an original survey of submunicipal community presidents in the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala and qualitative interviews.

“Inequality, Poverty and Social Protection in the Times of Covid-19 in Latin America: Comparing Brazil and Mexico” (with Nora Lustig) (2021), Current History 120 (823): 57– 63.

Working papers

Violent Crime and Pork-Barrel Politics: evidence from Mexican municipalities 2016-2018

Abstract: How does the presence of criminal violence affect politicians’ distributive strategies? Recent literature has vigorously debated which voter groups receive discretionary transfers, but less is known about the conditions under which these distributive strategies might be more or less likely. Using evidence from the Mexican Municipal Social Infrastructure Fund (Fondo de Infrastructura Social Municipal), this paper argues that that an important contextual factor – the presence of criminal violence – affects the allocative strategies of politicians within their constituencies. Under violence, politicians have especially strong incentives to target development resources towards their core constituencies. First, the criminal violence facilitates non-programmatic targeting through lowering public oversight and accountability in the use of public resources. Second, the electoral uncertainty and reduced political participation under violence makes targeting towards swing districts risky, making it especially likely that politicians focus on buying turnout in core districts. Download PDF

Civil Conflict, Political Regime and Income Inequality

Abstract: What is the redistributive effect of civil war? Recent literature has pointed towards the equity promoting effects of interstate warfare, but the question on the effects of civil war on income inequality has not received considerable attention so far. In this paper I explore the relationship between domestic civil conflicts and income inequality in both cross-national and sub-national context of Mexican municipalities. My argument is conditional: I propose that the effects of civil violence on inequality differ in democracies and autocracies. Counter intuitively, I argue that post-conflict settings produce increasing inequality in democratic regimes. Democratic checks and balances tend to favor faster recovery of banking system and financial sector, producing higher return for capital, and relative income growth of business elites. By contrast, conflict tends to decrease inequality in authoritarian settings, due to higher threat of re-occurrence of violence, and inability of rulers to credible commit to respecting private property rights, which harms the business sector. I find evidence for these claims in cross-national setting, using Error Correction Models for 115 countries during 1965-2015, and in the Mexican municipal level during 1990-2000, making use of a regression discontinuity design.


The Rise of New Authoritarianism in the EU? Diplomaatia, International Centre for Defense and Security, August 11, 2017

Is Endless Austerity Such a Good Idea? Diplomaatia, International Centre for Defense and Security, November 13, 2015