Tel. +34 93 542 2692
Available for interviews at
European Job Market for Economists (EEA)
Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA)
Development Economics and Political Economy.
"Within-Group Heterogeneity in a Multi-Ethnic Society” (Job Market Paper)
Is ethnic diversity good or bad for economic development? Most empirical studies find corrosive effects. In this paper, I show that ethnic diversity need not spell poor development outcomes–a history of within-group heterogeneity can turn ethnic diversity into an advantage for development. I collect new data on a natural experiment from Peru's colonial history: the forced resettlement of native populations in the 16th century. This intervention forced together various ethnic groups in new jurisdictions. Where these groups were composed of more heterogeneous subpopulations, working in different ecological zones of the Andes prior to colonization, ethnic diversity has systematically lower costs and may even become advantageous. Cultural transmission is one likely channel. Specifically, where different ethnic groups were composed of more heterogeneous subpopulations, they engage in more reciprocal behavior and exhibit more open attitudes toward out-group members.
"Accountability, Political Capture and Selection into Politics: Evidence from Peruvian Municipalitie” (with Lukas Kleine-Rueschkamp and Gianmarco León-Ciliotta)
Forthcoming at the Review of Economics and Statistics.
We estimate the effects of political accountability on the selection of politicians when accountability mechanisms are prone to political capture. We compare the characteristics of candidates running in municipalities where the previous incumbent was ousted from office through a recall referendum with those who run where the recall referendum failed by a small margin. Having a recalled incumbent in the previous term causes a negative selection of candidates in terms of their education and previous experience. They are also less representative of indigenous groups. The results are driven by localities where the accountability institution is likely used for political purposes.
Research Papers in Progress
“Pots and Kings: Storage and the Emergence of the State" (with Luigi Pascali)
The Neolithic Revolution is believed to have paved the way for civilization. The basic assumption is that farming increased labour productivity and made possible to generate an economic surplus sufficient to maintain a non-productive class of bureaucrats. We challenge this theory and propose that storage, rather than agriculture, was the mother of civilization. To support this theory, we conduct three empirical exercises. The first exercise is based on Murdock’s (1967) Ethnographic Atlas. Using a sample of 186 pre-industrial societies, we show that storing societies present three characteristics –sedentarism, high population density, and large socioeconomic inequalities– that have been considered typical of agricultural societies. To isolate the causality channel, we construct a measure of the variability of food resources, a variable that has been proven to be an important predictor of the adoption of simple and complex storing technologies. Moreover, our results hold when restricting the sample to hunter-gatherer societies, thus confirming that storage is not just capturing the role of agriculture. The second empirical exercise is based on a panel that covers every raster point of the world from 15600 BC. We show that the first large settlements emerged in places where pottery, a sophisticated storage technology preceding the emergence of farming, was first adopted. This result holds when controlling for the spread of agriculture and when instrumenting the spread of pottery. Third, we provide case-study evidence that storage was key for the emergence of sedentarism and complex hierarchies using detailed data on basketry techniques for a subset of pre-Columbian hunter-gatherer cultures.
“How Many Historical Roots Do We Really Have? A Study on the Cultural Origins of Modern Development Outcomes" (with Marta Reynal-Querol and Hans-Joachim Voth)
The literature on the historical roots of economic development has studied a wide array of socioeconomic and institutional characteristics of pre-industrial societies (tribes or ethnic groups). These characteristics usually come from the Ethnographic Atlas (Murdock 1967). For example, political centralization, as measured by the number of jurisdictional levels beyond the local community, has received increasing attention in the literature. Other papers have shown the importance of rules of succession to the office of local headman, the practice of bride price, and plough agriculture, among other pre-industrial traits. In this project, we conduct a systematic analysis of which pre-industrial ethnic traits shape cross-country differences in development and institutions. Are they capturing different dimensions? Is there a reduced number of dimensions that matter to explain cross-country differences? Moreover, we ask whether heterogeneity in pre-industrial traits, rather than ethnic heterogeneity, contributes to explain disparities across countries. Ethnic groups that have been historically organized under the same cultural and socioeconomic characteristics could probably manage better building a common state and common norms than groups whose institutional and social organization was very different.