Dissertation Project - The Laments of Getting Things Done: The Case of Gender and Ethnic Bias in India’s Bureaucracy

My dissertation seeks to create a comprehensive theory of how bureaucrats react to the entry of minoritized politicans---both women and ethnic minorities----into political institutions and how their biases impact policy outputs in minority-led constituencies. When bureaucrats have negative attitudes about the capability of minoritized politicians as leaders, under what conditions do they exercise discretion in policy implementation? What are the implications for politicians when bureaucrats exercise discretion and what strategies do politicians use to counter discretion? This dissertation seeks to understand the political economy of bureaucrat-politician interactions and its effects on both minoritized politicians and the constituencies led by these politicians in India.

Working Book Manuscript, accepted by Oxford University Press India - Bang for the Buck : Reforms to Maximize Public Funding Outcomes in India (With A. Santosh Mathew and Devesh Sharma)

This book updates the existing public service delivery literature and state capacity literature for a missing link: the public finance mechanisms that fund public services. Public finance mechanisms are a core link in ensuring budget allocation trickles down to program implementers for public service delivery. When poorly structured, public finance mechanisms can stall fund flow and create systemic issues that stymie public service delivery. Bang for the Buck outlines these issues that result from a poor public finance management system and offers a comprehensive reform plan for policymakers. Please click on the project link for more details.

Working Paper [available upon request] - Are Incentives Universally Effective? (With Cecilia H. Mo and Katharine Conn)

Do survey incentives that improve response rates in the United States and the Global North perform just as well in other countries? Studies on web survey recruitment have largely come to a conclusion that monetary incentives recruit a higher share of respondents than non-monetary responses. Though these findings largely come from the U.S. or Europe, scholars in other regions have relied on similar monetary incentives such as gifts or lotteries to recruit respondents. We test the assumption that monetary incentives are effective across cultures by running an incentives experiment in Australia, India, and the United States amongst a similar population of pro-social individuals in each country. We find that monetary incentives are effective in the U.S. and Australia, but Indians respond more frequently to charity appeals or descriptive appeals. An additional dictator game corroborates this finding, showing that Indians are much more likely to donate potential lottery winnings to charity than individuals from other countries. Our results suggests that incentives that have worked in Western settings cannot be transported to other settings without prior testing and a careful consideration of the cultural or socioeconomic context of a country.

Working Paper [available upon request] - The (Null) Marriage Effect : Voters’ Indifference to Marital Status of Female Candidates in India.

In countries that regard marriage to be of high importance, why do we see so many unmarried or widowed female candidates? To test whether this is a result of demand-based effects, I test this puzzle through a large-scale conjoint experiment in India. I find that though research to date suggests voters prefer married female candidates, voters in the urban Indian setting are indifferent to women's marital status. Rather, voters overwhelmingly decide on female candidates based on their party affiliation, along with dynastic status and profession. Moreover, they tend to punish women with more than one child. The findings bear into question whether parties put forth candidates that align with voters' interests and whether theories of representation hold in the Indian setting.

Adapted from Hugo's Theme Resume