Why does judicial independence arise in some societies and not others? 

Introduction. I am an assistant professor of Economics (tenure-track) at the New Economic School and a research affiliate at the Harvard Law School. I received my Ph.D. in Economics from France in October 2019.  Previously, I studied in the Netherlands and Pakistan.  In the Fall of 2024, I will be visiting UC Berkeley. 

Research Statement: Why does the gavel sometimes echo with freedom, while in other instances, it becomes muffled by internal and external forces? This puzzle forms the core of my research agenda.

Research Fields: Development Economics, Political Economy, Law and Development. 

Contact Details:


Curriculum Vitae:  Download (PDF) 

Twitter: @mrsultan713

Webpage:  (Faculty Page at NES; Page at FJA; Page at Harvard Law)


Revise and Resubmit Requests:

Honors and Awards:

Research Papers 


The impact of Presidential appointment of judges: Montesquieu or the Federalists?  (IOEA Best Paper Award)  - Published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics  

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VoxDev Policy Column 

Summary in Urdu (اُردُو)  (PDF)

Religious Leaders and Rule of Law (with A. Seror)  - Published in Journal of Development Economics

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ASREC Talk (15 minutes Talk) 

Summary in Urdu (اُردُو)  (PDF)

Ramadan Fasting Increases Leniency in Judges from Pakistan and India (with A. Seror and D. Chen)  - Published in Nature Human Behavior (Cover Article)

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News Coverage (Geo News, Phys.Org, The News, Le Matin, iNews, The Times)

Judicial Capture (with B. Ali) - Published in The Economic Journal 

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Contract Enforcement in a Stateless Economy (with D. Chen) - AEA RCT Registry - Submitted

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Slides (PDF)

Reform Multiplier and Elite Entrenchment (with B. Ali) - Submitted

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Judicial Independence and Development 

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Altruism in Governance: Insights from Randomized Training for Pakistan's Junior Ministers (with D. Chen and S. Naseer)  - AEA RCT Registry  - Published in Journal of Development Economics

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VoxDev Policy Column

AI Education as State Capacity: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan (with S. Naseer and D. Chen) - AEA RCT Registry -  Submitted

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Training Policymakers in Econometrics (with S. Naseer and D. Chen) - AEA RCT Registry - Submitted

VoxDev Policy Column

World Bank Blog                 

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Transmitting Rights (with S. Naseer and D. Chen) - Revise and Resubmit at the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

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VoxDev Policy Column

Role Models and Theory of Mind: Teacher Vaccinations and Student Success (with S. Naseer and D. Chen) AEA RCT Registry  -  Revise and Resubmit at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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Why are Rights Revolutions Rare?  (with S. Naseer and D. Chen) - AEA RCT Registry  - Submitted

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World Bank Blog

Attitudes as Assets  (with A. Seror, D. Chen, and S. Naseer)   - Submitted

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Pre-Doctoral Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Terrorism and the Macroeconomy: Evidence from Pakistan (Pre-Doctoral Research: Bachelor's 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 estimated that cumulatively terrorism has cost Pakistan around 33.02 % of its real national income over the entire sample period and that 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 a 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.

Social Inequality and the Dynamics of Political and Ethnolinguistic Divides in Pakistan, 1970-2018  (with T. Piketty and A. Gethin)

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This study documents the changing structure of Pakistan’s political cleavages by making use of a unique set of exit polls covering every direct election held in the country between 1970 and 2018. We analyze the evolution of Pakistan's party system, beginning with the initial economic “left-right” opposition between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muslim League. Regionalist, ethnolinguistic and religious divides have weakened and transformed this party system over the last half a century. The decline of the PPP has come with its transformation from a low-income mass-based party to an ethnic party confined to Sindhi speakers. We also analyze the recent rise of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the role played by the political unification of the economic, religious and military elites in its success. Finally, we discuss how the Islamization policies implemented under the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) has contributed to weaken the development of a pro-redistribution secularist coalition.

Social Inequality and the Dynamics of Political and Ethnolinguistic Divides in Pakistan, 1970-2018 (with T. Piketty and A. Gethin) - Published in Harvard University Press


Talks in 2023  & 2024:  UCSD Political Economy Seminar, Harvard University Psychology Seminar, Boston University Development Seminar, MIT Sloan Seminar,  Dartmouth QSS Seminar, Brown Growth Lab Seminar, Northwestern Political Economy Seminar, UK Political Economy Seminar, HEC Lausanne Applied Seminar, LMU Munich Empirical Economics Seminar, AMSE Development Seminar, University of Chicago Relational Contracts Workshop 2023, Advances in Field Experiments 2023, Federal Reserve Seminar 2023, Manchester University Seminar 2024, Law and Political Economy 2024.

2022: ASSA 2022, IOEA 2022, University of Chicago's Advances in Field Experiments 2022, UCSD Seminar 2022, TSE Seminar 2022, BU Development Seminar 2022, Northwestern Political Economy Seminar 2022.

2021: PSE Applied Economics Seminar, CEPR Political Economy of Development Workshop, Econometric Society Annual Meeting 2021; SPSA 2021, APSA 2021, MPSA 2021,  NBER Fall Development Meeting 2021, Winter Meeting of Econometric Society 2021.

2020: ETH Zurich Law and Economics Seminar,  Aix-Marseille University Applied Breakfast, Society for Institutional & Organizational Economics (SIOE), Econometric Society's World Congress, Economic Development and Institutions Annual Conference, Bocconi CLEAN Seminar,  EEA Annual Conference, Applied Lunch New Economic School.

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.


Spring 2019: Statistical Reasoning and Causal Inference at Sciences Po (Masters Level)

Spring 2021: Empirical Political Economics at the New Economic School (Masters Level)

Spring 2022: Introduction to Law and Economics (Bachelor Level)

Spring 2022: Empirical Political Economics at the New Economic School (Masters Level)

Fall 2023: Data Science for Judges at the Federal Judicial Academy (Course Introduction)