I am a PhD student in Economics at the University of Barcelona and Institute of Economics, Barcelona (IEB).
My main research interest are in political economy and development economics with a regional focus on India.
PhD in Economics, 2024 (Expected)
University of Barcelona and IEB
Joint Masters in Models and Methods of Quantitative Economics (QEM), 2020
Universite Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne, IDEA Graduate Program, UAB
Masters in International Economics and Finance (Advanced), 2015
University of Queensland
BA in Economics, 2011
Michigan State University
Why do voters often fail to reject corrupt or criminal politicians? In this paper, I argue that in settings where government institutions are weak and corruption is widespread, criminal politicians can gain control over state resources and use their delivery as a mechanism to buy voter support. To test this theory, I examine the causal effects of electing criminal politicians on India’s largest rural workforce program in the state of West Bengal during the 2011 to 2020 period. Using a regression discontinuity design, I find that the election of a criminal politician leads to a drop in the number of completed projects and a rise in work allocation. This effect is more pronounced for legislators who seek re-elections, are accused of serious criminal allegations, and contest from non-reserved constituencies. The results further indicate that criminal politicians spend a significantly larger portion of the funds on the labor dimension of the program rather than on materials. These findings suggest that criminal politicians use the program to deliver clientelistic public goods to their constituents. This could explain why voters might be willing to support such candidates, despite the criminal allegations against them.
Does the politicians family connections affect the level of effort they exert once elected to public office? Economic theory predicts that political power is often unequally distributed, where certain individual enjoy an electoral advantage over others. One prominent example of this phenomenon is political dynasties, where candidates belonging to political families are persistently elected to political office. While the existing literature highlights why dynastic politicians maintain political power, the consequences of electing such politicians is relatively unknown. In this paper, I examine if dynastic politicians under perform in terms of their effort once elected to political office in the context of India, where members of prominent families often hold political office for generations. I use two main proxy measurements to measure political effort: (i) A field experiment to investigate whether the dynastic ties of the legislator affects their response to citizens’ request about the lack of regular water supply and (ii) the amounts of funds utlilized under the constituency development scheme available to each politician in their constituency. Using a regression discontinuity design, I estimate the effect of electing a dynastic politician on politician effort at the constituency level for all Indian state assembly elections held during the period of 2018 to 2023.
Voters across the world are often complicit in electing bad-quality legislators to political office. This problem is particularly salient in India, where candidates accused of criminality often succeed at the polls. Why do voters show a willingness to cast their ballots for candidates accused of wrongdoing? Using primary individual-level voter survey data from the Bihar 2020 state assembly elections, this paper examines whether ethnic voting can explain this surprising voter behavior. Contrary to voter preference theory, I find that voters exhibit a strong negative response to candidates accused of criminality when they belong to their preferred ethnic party. Coethnicity sharply reduces the probability of voting for the criminal candidate: electoral support drops by 89% for violent charges and by 56% for non-violent charges. This pattern holds regardless of the voters’ level of news consumption or political knowledge, education status, and income. These findings suggest that the electoral success of criminal politicians could be attributed to other factors such as a lack of proper institutions or lower state capacity rather than the voters’ underlying ethnic preferences.