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Welcome. I’m a PhD candidate in political science at Yale University. My research is in comparative and international political economy, with a regional focus on South Asia. My papers are published in The Journal of Politics and International Organization. My research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, and the Leitner Political Economy Program at Yale. My CV is available here. In case you would like to get in touch, you can reach me at gautam.nair@yale.edu.

My research focuses on the politics of inequality and redistribution and is organized around two related streams. The first studies how business and special interests shape distributive politics in poor democracies. Rather than viewing distributive politics primarily as an informal exchange between politicians and voters, I show that the interaction of firms and weak parties helps to explain why politicians choose strategies that are a second-best from the perspective of voters. My work thus bridges scholarship on clientelism, redistribution, and interest groups in developing democracies. The second area of my research examines the causes and consequences of the growth of the Right in India in comparative and historical perspective, examining in particular how economic development has altered inequality in traditional social structures.

The main question motivating my research concerns how distributive politics is shaped by group inequalities that are refracted through individual identities, beliefs, and preferences, as well as the influence of political parties, special interests, and institutions. I use a variety of approaches in my work, including quantitative analysis of large datasets, extensive fieldwork and qualitative interviews, experiments, and archival research.

I have enjoyed teaching in Yale’s political science department and business school. My teaching interests include comparative politics, international political economy, distributive politics, business-government relations, South Asian politics, and quantitative methods.

I was born and raised in India. I have a BA in economics from Colby College and earned an MA from the Social Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. Previously I worked at Innovations for Poverty Action and at the Sustainable Engineering Lab at Columbia University.

Thanks for visiting.