PhD candidate, Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
I am a fifth year PhD candidate at Princeton University. Starting in the Fall of 2013, I will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, at the University of Warwick. You can download copies of my working papers, below.
I took my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford in 2006. Before coming to Princeton, I worked for JPMorgan for two years.
Parliamentarism or Presidentialism? (***UNDER REVIEW***) [PDF]
Abstract: In parliamentary and presidential systems, the voter delegates policy proposal and veto responsibilities to executive and legislative agents. Under parliamentarism, she directly appointments only the legislative agent; under presidentialism she enjoys the ability to directly appoint both agents. I examine why she should wish to forfeit the additional degree of ex-post control associated with presidential government. To do so, I develop a model in which politicians' abilities are private information, and in which actions taken by the legislative agent provide information to the voter about both agents' types. A system in which the electoral fate of these agents is institutionally fused forces the legislative agent to internalize this information externality. This can improve the voter's inference about the realized types of politicians, her decision about whether to retain or replace either agent, and her welfare, relative to a system in which the survival of the legislative agent is institutionally separated from that of the executive.
Electoral Competition under Qualified Run-Off Rules (***New Version 5/22/13***) [PDF]
Abstract: Run-off rules are widely used in democracies across the world, yet our understanding of their effects on candidate entry and polarization are limited to a special case: the majoritarian run-off. Motivated by a nascent empirical literature on non-majoritarian run-offs, I examine candidate entry and positioning under run-off rules with thresholds of exclusion - the conditions under which no second round takes place - beyond the canonical case in which a candidate must win a majority in the first round in order for no second round to occur. I show that for any non-majoritarian threshold, there exists an equilibrium in which exactly two candidates enter and the rest stay out of the contest. I also show that the upper and lower bound of platform differentiation - commonly interpreted as polarization - is generally significantly larger under qualified run-offs than the majoritarian case. Finally, I show the possibility of institutional design: under weak conditions, there exists a threshold of exclusion which ensures that in every equilibrium, at most two candidates offer platforms. These results provide a theoretically stark and empirically concordant counterpoint to a conventional wisdom which associates all run-off rules with candidate proliferation.
Belief Manipulation and Experimentation (***First Draft 4/03/13***) [PDF]
Abstract: I examine a model of experimentation in which a principal invests funds and an agent supplies effort. The agent's action is hidden, and players have ex-ante symmetric beliefs about the project's quality. Higher investment by the principal raises the probability of success when the agent works and the project is good, but simultaneously increases the agent's continuation payoff from shirking, which creates private information and a source of rent. I show that two outcomes are possible, relative to the first-best. First, the principal can under-invest in order to limit the deterioration in her posterior belief when observing initial failure. Second, she may over-invest relative to the first best. This serves as a commitment to sufficiently pessimistic beliefs upon initial failure that she discontinues the project, denying the agent rents from the repeated interaction.
Work In Progress:
Can Institutionalized Political Parties Overcome Clientelism? (with Leonard Wantchekon)
Abstract: We study the role of competition between political parties in providing incentives for candidates to pursue broad, programmatic policies, instead of locally targeted policies. Candidates in each district choose whether to engage in costly learning about an uncertain policy that may benefit all districts, or may instead revert to offering a district-specific policy, the benefit of which is subject to no uncertainty. Voters infer from candidates' announcements the efficacy of the programmatic policy, so that the willingness of candidates to invest in and advocate for the programmatic policy depends on their belief that others will do the same. We compare a world with no parties (pure candidate competition) to two kinds of parties: those with closed nomination procedures, and those with open procedures. Though closed parties perform very badly even relative to a world with no parties, open party nomination procedures can provide the strongest incentives for candidates to eschew parochial policies in favor of their broader alternatives. We model forms of internal party democracy - such as party conferences - and show that these further advantage open parties over closed parties, and pure candidate competition. We illustrate the mechanisms of the model with examples from South Africa, France, and the United States.