Pablo Balán

Welcome to my website! 

I am an Assistant Professor (Senior Lecturer) in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. I am also a Research Affiliate at the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

I am a political economist studying developing countries, with a substantive focus on state capacity and social networks, a methodological focus on field experiments, and a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

I study how informal institutions affect the prospects and implementation of programmatic reform. A first stream of my research studies the foundations of state-building in low-capacity settings using field-experimental methods. Drawing on fieldwork in a large city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these projects document how participation in informal institutions shapes the adoption of land property rights and how local elites can collaborate with governments to boost essential state functions. A second set of projects examines the political effects of family networks in various contexts, from promoting electoral accountability to facilitating political activism within firms.

My work has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Economic Review, and World Development. Findings of my research have received coverage from VoxDev, ProMarket, the International Growth Centre, and EGAP. My public writing has appeared in The Monkey Cage.

My dissertation received an honorable mention for the Ronald Coase Best Dissertation Award from the Society of Institutional and Organizational Economics (SIOE). I am also a recipient of the Alon Fellowship for Outstanding Faculty, awarded by the Israeli Council for Higher Education.

I earned my PhD from the Department of Government at Harvard University in November 2021.  At Harvard, I was affiliated with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WFCIA), the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS),  and Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD). During 2020-2021 I was a visiting scholar at the Penn Development Research Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before pursuing graduate studies, I co-authored a general-audience book on political development in Argentina, my home country. The book was declared of public interest by the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires.


Recent and upcoming trips: