Working Papers

Incumbent Advantage, Voter Information and Vote Buying” (with C. Cruz and P. Keefer).

We examine the electoral consequences of a fundamental information problem: voter ignorance about what politicians can do for them. In a field experiment conducted before Philippine municipal elections, vote buying increased among voters who received information about a national municipal development fund. Theory and data – including from a separate survey experiment – confirm that newly informed voters were disappointed in incumbent performance, leading incumbents to respond with greater vote buying. Consistent with this explanation, the information shock had the largest effect on vote buying in villages where voters reported no recent municipality-provided infrastructure and where incumbents were most entrenched.

Link to Pre-Analysis Plan: AEA RCT Registry and J-PAL Hypothesis Registry

Political Dynasties, Term Limits and Female Political Empowerment: Evidence from the Philippines” (with S. Parsa and P. Querubin).

We study female representation in the Philippines. We first provide evidence for a previously understudied channel for female access to office: binding term limits constitute critical junctures in which dynastic women are 240 percent more likely to access political office. We then show that in municipalities where a term-limited incumbent was replaced by a relative, there are no differences in policy outcomes between those governed by a male or female mayor. We argue that the channel through which women enter elected office matters for whether female descriptive representation translates into substantive female representation. When women access office through a dynastic channel there is no gender mandate. Female politicians may be more responsive to the interests of their family (rather than those of other women) or may be unable to represent female preferences, as they are often figureheads or benchwarmers of previous relatives.

Family Networks and Distributive Politics” (with M. Fafchamps).

We argue that incumbents share rents with central players to build and sustain coalitions. Using an unusually rich dataset, we show that households with high betweenness centrality — a measure of brokerage potential — receive more public services from their local government. This result is robust to the inclusion of controls for program eligibility, family ties with politicians, and other measures of centrality — which are not significant once betweenness is included. We provide further corroboration from indirect evidence from variation in size and electoral competition across municipalities.  Finally, we show that in municipalities where politicians provide more goods and services to their relatives they target fewer goods to households with high betweenness centrality.  The evidence  supports the hypothesis that incumbent municipal politicians offer favorable access to  public services to households most able to play a brokerage role in the formation of coalitions of families for electoral support.

 Journal Articles

Economic Shocks and Labour Market Flexibility” (with S. Franklin). [Online AppendixJournal of Human Resources, forthcoming.

We test how labour markets adjust to large, but temporary, economic shocks in a context in which such shocks are common. Using an individual-level panel, from 1,140 Philippine municipalities over 26 quarters, we find that workers in areas affected by strong typhoons experience reductions in hours worked and hourly wages, without evidence of layoffs. The  results are strongest for formal, wage-paying jobs. We argue that those results are best explained by implicit contracts where workers and firms share risks. We provide extensive qualitative data suggesting that employment contracts in the Philippines allow for such flexibility.

Using Split Samples to Improve Inference on Causal Effects” (with M. Fafchamps). Political Analysis, forthcoming.

We discuss a statistical procedure to carry out empirical research that combines recent insights about pre-analysis plans and replication. Researchers send their datasets to an independent third party who randomly generates training and testing samples. Researchers perform their analysis on the training sample and are able to incorporate feedback from both colleagues, editors and referees. Once the paper is accepted for publication the method is applied to the testing sample and it is those results that are published. Simulations indicate that, under empirically relevant settings, the proposed method delivers more power than a pre-analysis plan. The effect mostly operate through a lower likelihood that relevant hypotheses are left untested. The method appears better suited for exploratory analyses where there is significant uncertainty about the outcomes of interest. We do not recommend using the method in situations where the treatment are very costly and thus the available sample size is limited. An interpretation of the method is that it allows researchers to perform direct replication of their work. We also discuss a number of practical issues about the method’s feasibility and implementation.

Politician Family Networks and Electoral Outcomes: Evidence from the Philippines” (with C. Cruz and P. Querubin) [Technical Appendix] American Economic Review, forthcoming.

We demonstrate the importance of politician social networks for electoral outcomes. Using large-scale data on family networks from over 20 million individuals in 15,000 villages in the Philippines, we show that candidates for public office are disproportionately drawn from more central families and family network centrality contributes to higher vote shares during the elections. Consistent with our theory of political intermediation, we present evidence that family network centrality facilitates relationships of political exchange. Moreover, we show that family networks exercise an effect independent of wealth, historical elite status, or previous electoral success.

Do Politicians’ Relatives Get Better Jobs? Evidence from Municipal Elections” (with M. Fafchamps). [Online Appendix] Journal of Law, Economics, & Organizations, 2017, Vol. 33(2): 268-300.

We estimate the impacts of being connected to politicians on occupational choice. We use an administrative dataset collected in 2008-2010 on 20 million individuals and rely on naming conventions to assess family links to candidates in elections held in 2007 and 2010. We first apply a regression discontinuity design to close elections in 2007.  We then use individuals connected to successful candidates in 2010 as control group to net out the possible cost associated with being related to a losing candidate. We find that relatives of current office-holders are more likely to be employed in better paying occupations.

Link to Pre-Analysis Plan: EGAP

Local Political Business Cycles: Evidence from Philippine Municipalities” Journal of Development Economics, 2016, Vol. 121: 56-62.

This paper establishes the existence of short-term political business cycles in the Philippines over the period 2003 – 2009. Examining a balanced panel of 1,143 municipalities shows that employment levels increase in the two pre-electoral quarters and drop sharply in the two quarters following elections. Further results are consistent with the cycles being generated by incumbents’ attempts to increase their chances of re-election. Cycles are stronger in sectors that incumbents are more able to influence, and when they expect stronger electoral competition. Evidence suggests these cycles are detrimental to development.

The Local Electoral Impacts of Conditional Cash Transfers: Evidence from a field experiment” Journal of Development Economics, 2013, Vol. 104: 73-88.

I assess the impacts of targeted government transfers on a local incumbent’s electoral performance. I use the randomized roll-out of a CCT program in the Philippines. Although the program was usually implemented in all villages in a municipality, a subset of beneficiary municipalities were randomly selected to receive the program in a randomly selected subset of villages. A number of municipalities are tightly controlled by political dynasties and, thus, I can test whether the effects are dependent upon the political environment. In a competitive political environment, incumbent vote share is 26 percentage-points higher in municipalities where the program was implemented in all villages than in municipalities where the program was implemented in half of them. The program had no impact in municipalities with low levels of political competition. Further, there is evidence consistent with the argument that incumbents compensated households in control villages by redistributing their own budget there.

Do Community-Driven Development Projects Enhance Social Capital? Evidence from the Philippines” (with R. Chase) Journal of Development Economics, 2011, Vol. 96: 348-358.

We explore the social capital impacts of a community-driven development project in the Philippines in which communities competed for block grants for infrastructure investment. The analysis uses a unique panel data set of about 2100 households, aggregated at the village-level, collected in 66 treatment and 69 comparison communities. We provide both difference-in-differences and propensity score matching estimates. We find that the project increased participation in village assemblies and the frequency with which local officials meet with residents and had a negative impact on collective action. There is also more limited evidence of a positive impact of the project on bridging (i.e., generalized) trust and of a negative impact on group membership.

So You Want to Quit Smoking: Have You Tried a Mobile Phone?” (with R. Chase) Applied Economics Letters, 2011, Vol. 18(2): 103-106.

Using spatially coded data on mobile phone coverage and panel data from 2100 households in 135 communities of the Philippines, we estimate the impact of mobile phone ownership on tobacco consumption. Purchasing a mobile phone leads to a 17.1% decrease in tobacco consumption per adult over the age of 15.

A Road to Trust” (with R. Chase) Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2010, Vol. 74: 253-261.

We explore the relationship between transaction costs and generalized trust. Using panel data from 2100 households in 135 poor rural communities of the Philippines, we show that where costs of interactions are reduced there is an increase in generalized trust. These results have implications for the literature on the links between trust and growth. Indeed, rather than being an input to economic growth, trust might be a product of reduced costs of interactions which also favors growth. Specifically, we find that the individuals most likely to engage in exchange exhibit an increase in trust after road construction.

Who is at the Wheel when Communities Drive Development? Evidence from the Philippines” (with R. Chase).  World Development, 2009, Vol. 37(1): 219-231.

Community-Driven Development (CDD) approaches have become an important part of development operations. Using data from 1,200 households in 66 communities participating in a CDD project in the Philippines, we analyze how communities select their proposals and how resources are allocated across villages. Resources flow to the poorest and more politically active villages. Controlling for poverty, more unequal villages are more likely to receive funding. This sur- prising result is because in more unequal villages, the elected village leader is more likely to override community preferences, and to influence inter-village competition such that project resources flow to their villages.

Why do Manufacturing Facilities Introduce Environmental Management Systems? Improving and/or Signaling Performance” (with N. Johnstone). Ecological Economics, 2009, Vol. 68(3): 719-730.

Environmental Policy and Economies of Scope in Facility-level Environmental Management” (with N. Johnstone and C. Thevenot) Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, 2008, Vol. 9 (3): 145-166.

Environmental Policy, Management and Innovation” (with N. Johnstone) OECD Economic Studies, 2006, Vol. 42(1).

Impact d’une réforme de la Politique Agricole Commune par le découplage” (Impact of a Common Agricultural Policy’s Reform Using Decoupling) (with P-A Jayet) Economie et Prévision, 2005, Vol. 167 pp 101-116. (in french).

Generation of Household Solid Waste in OECD Countries: An Empirical Analysis Using Macroeconomic Data” (with N. Johnstone) Land Economics, 2004, Vol. 80 (4) pp 529-538.