Research

Working Papers

UN voting alignment with US and export dependence on China
This paper presents evidence that having China as a major export market is associated with that country’s UN General Assembly voting alignment with the United States, and the relationship is mediated by whether the country exports oil and minerals. Using a panel of 100 developing and emerging market economies spanning 1995-2008, I find regional differences in the relationship between export dependence on China and UN voting alignment after controlling for US grant aid disbursements. In Latin America, higher export dependence is associated with lower voting alignment. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this is true for countries that do not rely on oil and mineral exports. Resource-exporting countries in Africa have a lower level of voting alignment with the US relative to other countries, but their voting alignment does not vary with higher export dependence on China.

Do parties facing electoral competition substitute away from foreign aid?
This paper extends the Grossman and Helpman (1996) model of elections and special interests by including foreign aid in order to examine the government’s incentives for accepting foreign aid in face of electoral competition. Rich and poor individuals vote in elections based on the government and opposition party’s policy platforms. The rich group can forge political connections by making monetary contributions to political parties and thereby potentially countering conditional foreign aid. Similar to GH (1996) I find that the party with the higher probability of winning receives more contributions and is asked to deviate more from its preferred policy. In addition I find that parties deviate more from their preferred policy under unconditional foreign aid, but that this may no longer be true with conditional foreign aid. Moreover, if conditionality is high enough it may raise incentives for a contributing group to alter election probabilities in order to get that group’s policy endorsement implemented.

Bilateral Trade Ties, Elections and Foreign Aid Allocation: A Comparison Across Donors
This paper informs the aid effectiveness debate by examining non-development motives of bilateral foreign aid flows. Using a panel of five bilateral donors and a hundred recipient countries from 1975-2008, I find that trade ties, recipients’ access to donor markets, elections and political competitiveness in the recipient country are associated with changes in foreign aid commitments. I show that the US gives more aid to its non-competitive, larger trade partners, but cuts their aid ahead of elections. It substitutes aid with market access for non-competitive countries for which it is an important export market, but not during election years. Germany, Japan and UK give more aid to countries with competitive electoral systems, but for these countries Japan and UK substitute aid with trade. The substitution disappears for UK during election years. Japan and UK also reward countries for which they are important export markets with more aid, but only during non-election years for Japan. During election years, Germany cuts aid to non-competitive countries, but gives more aid to non-competitive countries for which it is an export destination. There is some evidence that France substitutes aid with market access for politically competitive countries.

Research in progress

Gender preferences in a household bargaining model
Gender bias in household spending between boys and girls is a widely known phenomenon. I try to explain this fact by using a two period model of household bargaining where parents rely on their children for second period consumption and choose spending levels on children in the first period according to their future earning potential.

The right (time) to secede: Why nationalist parties demand a referendum for independence when they do (with Gemma Sala)
Many national minority parties demand independence; others pursue political autonomy instead. Most explanations for secessionism in Western democracies focus on regional economic interests and identities, or the failure to accommodate national diversity through decentralization. This paper argues that independence referenda take place due to the strategic calculations of the main nationalist party given the political competition they face, and in particular when 1) more than one nationalist formation exists, 2) the main nationalist party is in government, and 3) it is electorally threatened. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we argue that nationalist parties call a referendum for independence not to gain more power, but because they are afraid to lose it.

Marriage markets and determinants of dowry in South Asia

Contentious votes and UN voting alignment with US