I am a Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer at Yale's Program on Ethics, Politics, & Economics. I received my PhD in Politics from Princeton in June 2018 and my MA in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences from Columbia as a recipient of la Caixa Graduate Fellowship. I also hold a BA in Political Science and Public Management from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and spent my undergraduate year abroad at the University of California, Berkeley. I have consulted for Innovations for Successful Societies in Mexico, worked as a principal investigator with Innovations for Poverty Action in Uganda, interned at the United Nations Association-USA and at the World Bank in Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. My work has appeared in Studies in Comparative International Development and Public Choice.
My research shows how human capital and culture can fundamentally affect government formation, development and elite identity. The first part of my research agenda (dissertation) investigates why power is often so unequally distributed between a country’s regions, which I term regional political inequality (RPI). I leverage the brief but intense colonial period in East and West Africa to examine the impact of colonialism on government formation and RPI today. Existing research on cabinet formation focuses on short-term bargaining. Instead, I provide evidence that levels of colonial education across districts, rather than other investments or population, explain why some districts have more ministers than others after independence and even today. In turn, I provide evidence that pre-colonial trade is an important cause of the high investment inequality within colonial states. My dissertation provides a central antecedent to much existing literature that shows that unequal access to power leads to increased conflict, clientelism, and regional favoritism by elites.
The second part of my research agenda studies the role of culture in identity formation. I leverage a natural experiment in a cradle of East African elites, Makerere University, where students are randomly assigned to live in halls of residence that have distinct student cultures. Existing work suggests that both “nature” and “nurture” matter for life outcomes. My findings reveal that some behaviors and identity can be influenced by a relatively brief exposure to a new cultural environment.