- "Long-Run Impacts of State Integration Policies: Autonomy and Assimilation in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam." (under review)
- What is the effect of autonomy on minority populations? In this article, I compare economic outcomes for ethnic minority communities in Vietnam who were exposed to twenty years of autonomous rule with those exposed to fully assimilationist policies. I find that autonomous rule has a large positive effect on present day living standards. Using a geographic regression discontinuity design, I find an approximately 23% increase in household income among communities that were within autonomous regions. This effect is robust to a variety of specifications and functional form assumptions. Furthermore, analysis of public service delivery and participation data reveals that the autonomous region policy increased educational attainment levels but decreased present-day political participation. Link to paper.
- "Strategic Violence during Democratization: Evidence from Myanmar" (with Darin Christensen and Renard Sexton).
- Facing a democratic transition from dictatorship, we argue that the military can maintain its control of valuable rents by stoking violence. The logic, while perverse, is straightforward: the new civilian government relies on security forces to manage domestic and external threats and is, thus, reluctant to strip military elites of their authority over conflict-ridden regions. We find evidence of this dynamic in Myanmar, a country transitioning from four decades of military rule. Prior to democratization, the military government peacefully colluded with rebel groups to split profits from jade mining and smuggling—a sector worth roughly half of Myanmar’s GDP. However, fearing that the new civilian government will assume control of jade-mining areas and the associated rents, the military foments unrest in mining townships to deter the development of an alternative and legitimate tax authority. Using geocoded data on conflict and the locations of jade mines, we find support for this argument: just as Myanmar embarks on its political transition in 2011, we observe a sharp increase in conflicts involving government security forces in jade-mining areas. Link to paper.
Works in Progress:
- "Pacifying the Periphery: How Rubber and Opium Cultivation Affect State Integration Policies in Southeast Asia."
- " Extractive Industries in Myanmar: Fostering Development without Fomenting Conflict" (with Darin Christensen and Renard Sexton).
- "The Effects of Mobile Technology Expansion on State Capacity and Political Accountability in Myanmar" (with Saad Gulzar).
- "Authority and Governance in State Peripheries: Indirect versus Direct Rule of Ethnic Minorities in the Southeast Asian Massif."