We study whether political parties exert precise control over the outcomes of legislative elections. We test for discontinuities in two outcomes that, in the absence of precise control, should be smooth at the threshold that determines control of the legislature: the identity of the party that previously held a majority, and the probability density of the election outcome. We apply these tests to high-stakes state elections that determine which party controls Congressional redistricting. We find overwhelming evidence of precise control, suggesting the majority party can---through legal means---ensure it barely retains enough seats to stay in power. (JEL Codes: D72, D73, J11)
We propose a method that simultaneously identifies where parties take control of U.S. Congressional redistricting, and how they use it. Our method exploits two institutional features: the discontinuous change in a party's control of redistricting triggered when its share of seats in the state legislature exceeds 50 percent, and the timing of the redistricting calendar. We find that parties capture redistricting in states where they are losing popularity, as reflected in the recent U.S. House races. They use redistricting to temporarily reverse their decline. Opposition candidates are 11 percentage points less likely to win just after redistricting. Opposition votes are less efficiently converted to seats and, under Republican redistricting, African Americans are more likely to be segregated into overwhelmingly black districts. (JEL Codes: D72, D73, J11)
Work in Progress
"Creating Labor Markets in Rural Tanzania" (pilot intervention in progress).
This project aims to experimentally test the sources of inefficiency in agricultural labor markets in rural Tanzania. A baseline survey conducted in 97 villages in 2017 in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania suggests that two major sources of labor market inefficiencies could be search costs and credit constraints. To test the causal effects of each of the two constraints in the labor supply and labor demand on labor market performances, a village-level randomized field experiment design is implemented. Registered workers in a randomly assigned group of villages will receive job vacancy announcements via text messages (“information intervention”), while the other group of villages will receive hiring loans (“loan intervention”). Comparisons across the randomly assigned groups of villages will provide answers on whether information friction or/and credit constraints are indeed impediments to the efficient allocation of rural labor resources.