Working Papers

  • ''Do Voters or Politicians Choose the Outcomes of Elections? Evidence from High Stakes U.S. State Legislative Elections'' with Ajay Shenoy

    Submitted. Version: November 2017

    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)

  • ''Endogenous Institutions: The Case of U.S. Congressional Redistricting'' with Ajay Shenoy

    Submitted. Version: November 2017

    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)

  • ''Is There Economies of Scale in Farms in Malawi: Farm size-Productivity and Efficiency Relationship"

    Version: 3 December 2016

    This paper revisits the classical inverse farm size-productivity relationship in Malawi. Using World Bank LSMS data, I demonstrate that the inverse relationship can be overstated by the measurement error in farm size, following Cohen (2015)'s method. Even with the correction of measurement errors, the inverse relationship is found within household for physical maize output as well as major inputs including labor and maize seed, but not for fertilizer. Unlike productivity, smaller plots are neither more nor less efficient based on a plot-specific profit measure and cost per unit output. Given the labor intensive nature of farming, the results suggest that there is limited scope of economies of scale in maize production in Malawi.

Work in Progress