I study how business and special interests shape politics and political development in democracies. 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.
My ongoing work 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 suboptimal 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.
My papers are available at my Google Scholar page. Please email me for drafts that are not listed at the link or for papers that are behind a paywall. I would be happy to send you a copy.
Building Mass Support for Global Pandemic Recovery Efforts in the United States. With Kyle Peyton. PNAS Nexus 1 (4), 1-9, 2022.
Misperceptions of Relative Affluence and Support for International Redistribution. The Journal of Politics 80 (3), 815-830, 2018.
Violence Exposure and Ethnic Identification: Evidence from Kashmir. International Organization. With Nicholas Sambanis.
Economic Origins of Democratic Breakdown? The Redistributive Model and the Postcolonial State. Perspectives on Politics 12 (2), 353-374, 2014. With Dan Slater and Benjamin Smith.
Off-grid Energy Services for the Poor: Introducing LED Lighting in the Millennium Villages Project in Malawi. Energy Policy 38 (2), 1087-1097, 2010. With Edwin Adkins, Sandy Eapen, Flora Kaluwile, and Vijay Modi.
Selected Work in Progress
Business, Voters, and Distributive Politics in Developing Democracies.
The Rise of the Right in Modernizing India.