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.

Publications

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.

Working Papers

Firms, Voters, and Distributive Politics in Developing Democracies.

The Rise of the Right in Modernizing India.

Subjective Perceptions and the Demand for Redistribution in the United States. With Annabelle Hutchinson.

Ethnic Quotas and the Distribution of Public Benefits in India: A Replication and Reanalysis of Dunning and Nilekani (2013). With Hari Ramesh.

Selected Work in Progress

Curbing Vote Buying: Evidence from a Field Experiment. With Hari Ramesh.

The Fortunes of Minorities under Majoritarian Democracy.