Working Papers

In Self Interest? Meritocracy in a Bureaucracy [latest version] [online appendix]

Abstract: Bureaucracies often design rules and constrain discretion in order to avoid nepotism. Yet such rules may not be necessary in cases where the interests of the decision-maker and the bureaucracy are aligned. I examine discretionary promotions of junior Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS) bureaucrats by their seniors, a setting where corruption and nepotism are presumed to be the norm. I compile unique data on the abilities of junior officers, including both publicly available recruitment exam rank and information on job performance that is private to senior officials. Results show that seniors use both public and private information meritocratically in making these "fast-track" promotions and are most selective and meritocratic when choosing and promoting juniors for their own team. These results show that even in a notably rigid and nepotistic setting information and discretion can be harnessed through self-interest to bolster meritocracy.

Should diversity be introduced in large or small groups? Evidence from lab in the field (with Brais Álvarez Pereira (University of Seville))

[latest version here]

Abstract: In this paper we analyse the relationship between group size and skills diversity on performance of workers. We first explore this link theoretically in a model with knowledge spillovers in production. The main prediction from the model is that the size of the group in which diversity is introduced matters. Having a diverse group-member increases performance of workers in a large group more than in a small one. We test this hypothesis in a lab in Guinea-Bissau with Nursing and Economics students. Students solve a test both individually and in homogeneous and heterogeneous groups of different sizes. The questions on the test are such that there is complementarity of skills required from Economics and Nursing disciplines to answer it. We study the outcomes of Nursing students that are randomly allocated to large and small groups. The Economics student provide a source of exogenous variation in skills diversity in these groups of different sizes of nursing students. We find that the nurses with an economist colleague in a large group perform 4.3 times higher than those in a small group. Our findings suggest that group size plays a central role in determining how skills diversity affects performance of workers.

Charitable donations and violence: Evidence from Pakistan (New draft coming soon)

This paper suggests a new channel of violence: the charitable donations channel. I exploit the rules of religious donations coupled with variations in the international price of gold/silver to arrive at a source of exogenous variation for donations. Using district-year level data on average household donations and terrorist attacks in Pakistan for the years 2001-2013, I find that donations increase the probability of a terrorist attack by 79% and the number of terrorist attacks by 30. All the effect of donations appears to work through an increase in suicide attacks as a specific terrorism tactic. All other tactics appear unaffected. 

  • Based on the MRes paper:  The Economic Causes of Terror: Evidence from Rainfall Variation and Terrorist Attacks in Pakistan [click here]

Work in Progress

Automation a panacea? Evidence from automation of land records in Punjab, Pakistan [click here for the abstract]

Efficiency of discretionary allocations: Evidence from PAS bureaucracy in Pakistan (with Gaurab Aryal (UVA), Clement Minaudier (University of Vienna) and Zahid Habib Bhutta (Additional Accountant General, AGP))

Norms of corruption: Evidence from the Indian police (with Daniel Gingerich (UVA), Vineet Kapoor (UVA) and Sandip Sukhtankar (UVA))

Why innovation happens in the public sector? The case of National Cancer Institute (with Natalie Aviles (UVA))

When bureaucracies cut costs:  Evidence from the World Bank reforms (with Clement Joubert (World Bank))

Who signals more? Asymmetric social signalling by men and women and implications for performance (with Brais Alvarez Pereira (University of Seville) and Shamyla Chaudry (Lahore School of Economics))


Gender Quotas and Performance of Men


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