Peer-Reviewed Book

  1. Nativism and Economic Integration Across the Developing World: Collision and Accommodation, with Bethany Lacina. 2019. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Elements: Political Economy series, ed. David Stasavage. 
    Summary:  Migration and nativism are explosive issues in Europe and North America. Less well-known is the tumult that soaring migration is creating in the politics of developing countries. The key difference between anti-migrant politics in developed and developing countries is that domestic migration—not international migration—is the likely focus of nativist politics in poorer countries. Nativists take up the cause of sub-national groups, defined by ethnicity, region, or both. They vilify other regions and groups in the same country as sources of migration. This kind of domestic nativism or sons-of-the-soil politics has been tremendously successful in less developed countries. Since the 1970s, the majority of less-developed countries have adopted policies that aim to limit internal migration, especially rural-to-urban migration. This book marshals evidence from Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, East Asia and India to explore the colliding trends of internal migration and nativism. Subnational migration is associated with a boom in nativist politics. Pro-native public policy and anti-migrant riots are both more likely when internal migration surges. Political decentralization—which has been increasing apace in the developing world—strengthens subnational politicians’ incentives and ability to define and cater to nativists.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  1. Does Affirmative Action Worsen Bureaucratic Performance? Evidence from the Indian Administrative Service,” with Alexander Lee. American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming. 
    Abstract: Although many countries recruit bureaucrats using affirmative action, the effect of affirmative action recruits on bureaucratic performance has rarely been examined. Some worry that affirmative action worsens bureaucratic performance by diminishing the quality of recruits, while others posit that it improves performance by making recruits more representative of and responsive to the population. We test for these possibilities using unusually detailed data on the recruitment, background and careers of India’s elite bureaucracy. We examine the effect of affirmative action hires on district-level implementation of MGNREGA, the world’s largest anti-poverty program. The data suggest that disadvantaged group members recruited via affirmative action perform no worse than others.
    • Here is an article on the paper in The Print.
  2. Voting for Development? Ruling Coalitions and Literacy in India,“ with Francesca Jensenius. Electoral Studies, 62: 1-13, 2019. 
    Abstract: Across the world, governments skew the distribution of state resources for political gain. But does such politicisation of resource allocation affect development trajectories in the long run? We focus on the long-term effects of voting for the ruling coalition on primary education in India. Using a close-election instrumental variable design and drawing on a new socio-economic dataset of India’s state assembly constituencies in 1971 and 2001, we examine whether areas represented by members of ruling coalitions experienced greater increases in literacy over 30 years. We find no evidence of this being the case, in the overall data or in relevant sub-samples. The null results are precisely estimated, and are consistent across OLS and 2SLS specifications and several robustness checks. These findings suggest the politicised distribution of some funds in the short run does not affect long-term development trajectories.
  3. Local Embeddedness and Bureaucratic Performance: Evidence from India,” with Alexander Lee. Journal of Politics, 80(1): 71-87, 2018. 
    Abstract: While locally embedded bureaucrats may be more willing and able to enhance public goods provisioning in the places that they serve, they may also be more likely to be captured by elite interests. We reconcile these two viewpoints by arguing that locally embedded bureaucrats enhance public goods provisioning when they can be held accountable by the public. We test this theory using data from India, examining how changes in public goods provision within districts are related to the embeddedness of the senior bureaucrats who served in them, using the plausibly random initial assignment of bureaucrats to account for the endogeneity of officer assignment. We find that officers from the state they serve increase public goods provision. Consistent with our theory, this effect is only present in districts with conditions that favor accountability. Our findings further the literatures on embeddedness, bureaucracy, leadership, and development.
  4. The Effects of Malapportionment on Cabinet Inclusion: Subnational Evidence from India.” British Journal of Political Science, 48(1): 69-89, 2018. 
    Abstract: Malapportionment doubly penalizes people from relatively large electoral districts or constituencies by under-representing them in the legislature and in the political executive or cabinet. The latter effect has not been studied. This article develops theoretical reasons for large constituency disadvantage in the cabinet formation process, and tests them using a new repeated cross-sectional dataset on elections and cabinet formation in India’s states, from 1977–2007. A one-standard-deviation increase in relative constituency size is associated with a 22 per cent fall in the probability of a constituency’s representative being in the cabinet. Malapportionment affects cabinet inclusion by causing large parties to focus on winning relatively small constituencies. These effects are likely to hold in parliamentary systems, and in other contexts where the legislature influences cabinet inclusion.
  5. Do the Effects of Temporary Ethnic Group Quotas Persist? Evidence from India.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 9(3): 105-123, 2017. 
    Abstract: Do electoral quotas for ethnic groups continue to improve their chances of winning elections after quotas are withdrawn? This is an important question since ethnic group quotas are common, and are often intended to be temporary. Using natural experiments, I find that electoral quotas for India’s “scheduled castes” (SCs) fail to boost SCs’ chances of winning office after they are discontinued. These results contrast with the significant positive effects of past women’s quotas found in similar contexts.
  6. Fiscal Federalism at Work? Central Responses to Internal Migration in India,” with Bethany Lacina. World Development 93: 236-248, 2017. 
    Abstract: Internal migration is thought to have substantial benefits for migrants and for the development of migrant-sending and migrant-receiving areas. In order to facilitate such migration, central governments may need to use fiscal transfers to ensure services to migrants, address infrastructure shortfalls, and ameliorate labor market displacement of natives. In fact, an extensive, mostly normative “fiscal federalism” literature has argued that central governments ought to use transfers to reduce interjurisdictional externalities such as those due to population displacements. We extend this literature empirically by examining the degree to which exogenous, longterm migration prompts the redirection of central fiscal resources in India. Following the literature on distributive politics, we argue that transfers in decentralized systems addressing the costs of population movements are influenced by partisan politics. Using monsoon shocks to migration, we show that increases in migration are met with greater central transfers but that these flows are at least 50% greater if the state-level executive is in the Prime Minister’s political party. Consistent with the theory, the influence of politics is greatest on parts of the budget subject to greater executive control. This politicization may explain why Indian states maintain barriers to internal migration despite the development costs of doing so.
  7. The Effects of Weather-Induced Migration on Sons of the Soil Violence in India,” with Bethany Lacina, World Politics 67(4): 760-794, 2015. 
    Abstract: Migration is thought to cause sons of the soil conflict, particularly if natives tend to be unemployed. Using data from India, the authors investigate the causal effect of domestic migration on riots by instrumenting for migration using weather shocks in migrants’ places of origin. They find a direct effect of migration on riots, but do not find that this effect is larger in places with more native unemployment. They argue and find evidence that migration is less likely to cause rioting where the host population is politically aligned with the central government. Politically privileged host populations can appease nativists and reduce migration through means that are less costly than rioting. Without these political resources, hosts resort to violence. Beyond furthering the sons of the soil literature, the authors detail a political mechanism linking natural disasters and, possibly, climate change and environmental degradation to riots, and demonstrate a widely applicable strategy for recovering the causal effect of migration on violence.
  8. Ancillary Studies of Experiments: Opportunities and Challenges,“ with Kate Baldwin, Journal of Globalization and Development 6(1): 113-146, 2015. 
    Abstract: “Ancillary studies of experiments” are a technique whereby researchers use an experiment conducted by others to recover causal estimates of a randomized intervention on new outcomes. The method requires pairing randomized treatments the researchers did not oversee with data on outcomes that were not the focus of the original experiment. Since ancillary studies rely on interventions that have already been undertaken, oftentimes by governments, they can provide a low-cost method with which to identify effects on a wide variety of outcomes. We define this technique, identify the small but growing universe of papers that employ ancillary studies of experiments in political science and economics, and assess the benefits and limitations of the method.
  9. Response to Roodman: “A Replication of ‘Counting Chickens When They Hatch’”“, with Samuel Bazzi, Public Finance Review, 43(2): 282286, 2015. 
    Abstract: The regressions in Clemens et al. (2012) are fully replicable with open-access data and code. Roodman (2015) alters the regression specifications in that paper by adding twice-lagged aid, after which he cannot reject the null hypothesis of a zero effect of aid on growth. We show, with Roodman’s data and code, that his altered specifications have very low power to reject the null–roughly 0.1 to 0.2. In other words, there is an 80-90% chance that Roodman’s altered regressions fail to reject the null by construction. This renders the exercise uninformative about the robustness of the findings in Clemens et al. (2012) or, more generally, about the effect of aid on growth.
  10. Gandhi’s Gift: Lessons for peaceful reform from India’s struggle for democracy,“ with Saumitra Jha, The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, 9(1): 76-88, 2014. 
    Abstract: We examine the potential and limitations of nonviolent civil disobedience through the lens of the evolution of an iconic success: India’s struggle for democratic self-rule. We summarize evidence consistent with a theoretical framework that highlights two key challenges faced by nonviolent movements in ethnically diverse countries. The first challenge, that of forging a mass movement, was met through the brokering of a deal that took advantage of an external shock (in this case, the Great Depression) to align the incentives of disparate ethnic and social groups toward mass mobilization in favor of democracy and land reform. The second challenge, that of keeping the mass movement peaceful, was accomplished through organizational innovations introduced by Mohandas Gandhi in his reforms of the constitution of the Congress movement in 1919-23. These innovations took the movement from one dominated by a rich elite to one organized on the principle of self-sacrifice. This permitted the selection of future leaders who could then be trusted to maintain nonviolent discipline in pursuit of the extension of broad rights and public policy objectives.
  11. Counting Chickens When They Hatch: Timing and the Effects of Aid on Growth,” with Samuel Bazzi, Michael Clemens and Steven Radelet, The Economic Journal, 122(561): 590-617, 2012. 
    Abstract: Recent research yields widely divergent estimates of the cross‐country relationship between foreign aid receipts and economic growth. We re‐analyse data from the three most influential published aid–growth studies, strictly conserving their regression specifications, with sensible assumptions about the timing of aid effects and without questionable instruments. All three research designs show that increases in aid have been followed on average by increases in investment and growth. The most plausible explanation is that aid causes some degree of growth in recipient countries, although the magnitude of this relationship is modest, varies greatly across recipients and diminishes at high levels of aid.
    • Winner of the Royal Economic Society prize for the best paper published in The Economic Journal in 2012.
    • A previous version of this paper was referenced in a Washington Post editorial.
  12. Do Electoral Quotas Work After They Are Withdrawn? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in India,” American Political Science Review 103(1): 23-35, 2009. 
    Abstract: Do electoral quotas for women alter women’s chances of winning elections after they are withdrawn? I answer this question by examining an unusual natural experiment in India in which randomly chosen seats in local legislatures are set aside for women for one election at a time. Using data from Mumbai, I find that the probability of a woman winning office conditional on the constituency being reserved for women in the previous election is approximately five times the probability of a woman winning office if the constituency had not been reserved for women. I also explore tentative evidence on the mechanisms by which reservations affect women’s ability to win elections. The data suggest that reservations work in part by introducing into politics women who are able to win elections after reservations are withdrawn and by allowing parties to learn that women can win elections.

Other Publications

  1. Socio-economic Profiles of India’s Old Electoral Constituencies, 1971-2001,“ with Francesca Jensenius. In Fixing Electoral Boundaries in India: Laws, Processes, Outcomes and Implications for Political Representation, ed. M. S. Alam and K. C. Sivaramakrishnan, 2015 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press).
  2. Secondary Analyses of Experiments: Opportunities and Challenges,” with Kate Baldwin, APSA-Comparative Democratization Newsletter, October 2011.
  3. Aid and Growth: The Current Debate and Some New Evidence,” with Steven Radelet and Michael Clemens in The Macroeconomic Management of Foreign Aid edited by Peter Isard and others, 2006 (Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund).
  4. Aid and Growth,” with Michael Clemens and Steven Radelet, Finance and Development 42 (3), September 2005.  Reprinted in Annual Editions: Developing World 07/08, edited by Robert J. Griffiths, November 2006 (Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill).


  1. The Effects of Malapportionment on Economic Development: Evidence from India’s 2008 Redistricting.” 
  2. The Political Impact of Monetary Shocks: Evidence from India’s 2016 Demonetization,” with Mark Copelovitch.
    • An article in Bloomberg refers to the paper.
  3. Oil Windfalls and the Political Resource Curse: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Brazil,“ with Noam Lupu.
  4. Forging a Non-Violent Mass Movement: Economic Shocks and Organizational Innovations in India’s Struggle for Democracy,” with Saumitra Jha.

Permanent Working Papers

  1. Can Government-Controlled Media Cause Social Change? Television and Fertility in India,“ with Gareth Nellis. 
  2. Using Asset Disclosures to Study Politicians’ Rents: An Application to India.”
  3. A Microeconomic View of the Evolution of Poverty and Inequality in Ghana, 1967-1997,” with Markus Goldstein.
  4. The Missing Globalization Puzzle,” with Arvind Subramanian, Natalia Tamirisa, and David Coe, International Monetary Fund Working Paper WP/02/171, October 2002.