I am a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Paris
I conduct research in political economy and development. Particularly, my research seeks to understand the workings of formal institutions such as the judiciary and its interaction with formal and informal institutions and its impact on development. In the first chapter of my dissertation, I show how the presidential appointment of judges in the superior courts impacts judicial decision-making and development. In the second chapter, I study how religious leaders impact the courts. In the third chapter, a new identification strategy and theory is presented on the political economy of foreign aid and development.
Judiciary's Achilles Heel: Executive Control via Appointment Power (Job Market Paper)
To what extent does the presidential appointment of judges impact judicial decision making? This paper provides causal evidence that the institution of presidential appointment exerts considerable influence on judicial decision making in Pakistan. We find that a change in selection procedure of judges from presidential appointment to appointment of judges by a judicial commission (consisting of peer judges) significantly reduces rulings in favor of the government and that this reduction reflects an improvement in the quality of judicial decisions. We test for and provide evidence against key threats to identification and alternative explanations of this finding. The analysis of the contents of cases reveal that rulings in politically salient cases explain these results. We find evidence of selection effect mechanism: judges appointed by the president are more likely to be politically active prior to their appointments. The reform also had a positive welfare effect by reducing expropriation risk in the housing industry.
The Dictator, the Imam and the Judge: Tracing the impact of Religion on the Courts
How does religion impact the courts? In this paper, we document a substantial impact of religious leaders on judicial decision making in Pakistan. Utilizing a unique dataset on the holy Muslims shrines across Pakistan, we show that districts where historically the shrine density was high, a military coup in 1999 induced a large decline in judicial independence and quality of judicial decisions. We present evidence consistent with the view that increased political power of religious leaders to influence the courts is the key mechanism explaining the results. The analysis of the type of cases driving the results show that more favourable rulings for the government in land expropriation and human rights cases explain these results. We also show a judicial selection reform that changed the appointment procedure to select judges from presidential appointment to selection by a judicial commission consisting of peer judges greatly mitigated the effect of historical shrine density on judicial outcomes.
The Political Economy of Foreign Aid and Growth: Theory and Evidence (with Avner Seror)
In this paper, we demonstrate that political incentives are key to understanding the effectiveness of foreign aid. We present a theory that formalizes how foreign aid impacts growth, leader turnover and public employment. We show that when political institutions are weak, foreign aid is misallocated. Nevertheless, foreign aid may also increase the dynamic efficiency of public policies, making the overall effect on aid on growth ambiguous. We present evidence consistent with the predictions of the model where foreign aid decreases leader turnover, increases misallocation - by increasing public employment - while it has a positive and significant effect on economic growth. The identification strategy we propose allows us to provide causal evidence for the predictions of the model. Our theory and evidence reconciles two strands of literature that grew apart in the recent decades, one demonstrating the positive effect of foreign aid on growth, the other emphasising the distortionary effects of foreign aid due to patronage, ethnic favoritism and corruption.
Terrorism and the Macroeconomy: Evidence from Pakistan (undergraduate thesis)
Pakistan with highest number of terrorism related deaths of any country over the past decade, the number exceeding the total terrorism related deaths for both the European and North American continents, offers an important setting to study impact of terrorism on the macroeconomy. Our estimates from a sample that covers over 4500 terrorist incidents and consequent 10, 200 deaths [from 1973 to 2010] imply that bouts of terrorist attacks led to both a short-run as well as medium-term adverse impact on key macroeconomic variables. It is documented that cumulatively terrorism has cost Pakistan around 33.02 % of its real national income i.e. terrorism costs Pakistan around 1 % of real GDP per capita growth every year. We find evidence consistent with the models that show that terrorism impacts the economy through reallocation of resources from relatively more productive public spending to less productive defense spending.
Mehmood, S., 2014. Terrorism and the macroeconomy: Evidence from Pakistan. Defence and Peace Economics, 25(5), pp. 509-534.
RESEARCH IN PROGRESS
ARE JUDGES A JURY OF ONE? EVIDENCE FROM ABOLITION OF JURIES IN INDIA
THE EFFECTS OF INTRODUCTION OF DNA EVIDENCE ON SEXUAL ASSAULT CONVICTIONS AND FEMALE EMPLOYMENT: EVIDENCE FROM PAKISTAN’S WOMEN PROTECTION BILL
THE STRIKE OF THE RIGHTEOUS: THE IMPACT OF HATE LITERATURE ON RADICALIZATION IN PAKISTAN (with Saher Asad)
RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL IDENTITY IN PAKISTAN: EVIDENCE FROM THE CHANGING STRUCTURE OF THE ELECTORATE 1988-2018 (with Thomas Piketty)
JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE OVER THE LONG RUN (with Avner Seror)
AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CAUSES OF ABOLITION OF SLAVERY: THE CASE OF UNCLE TOM'S CABIN (with Ekaterina Zhuravskaya)
SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES
2019: Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture (ASREC), Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), American Political Science Association (APSA), American Law and Economic Association (ALEA), Society for Institutional & Organizational Economics (SIOE).
2018: Institutional and Organizational Economics Academy (IOEA), American Law and Economic Association (ALEA), Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Casual Friday Development Seminar (CFDS).
2017: Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Institutional and Organizational Economics Academy (IOEA), PSE Applied Economics Seminar, DIAL Development Conference.
Statistical Reasoning Fall 2018: Masters in Economic Policy at Sciences Po
Designed and taught the course covering the following methods: Randomized Control Trials (Ruben Causal Model), Instrumental Variables, Differences-in-Differences, Regression Discontinuity Design and Propensity Score Matching.
83% of students rated 5/5 in the course evaluation.