Research

RESEARCH STATEMENT

PUBLICATIONS

The Influence of Pinochet on the Chilean Miracle, Latin American Research Review, forthcoming

This paper analyzes the impact of Augusto Pinochet’s autocracy on the Chilean economy. The study compares outcomes under Pinochet’s leadership with those in a synthetic counterfactual made of a weighted average of countries with similar characteristics. I find that, relative to the control, Chilean income per capita greatly underperformed for at least the first fifteen years of the Pinochet’s coup. My results are robust to extending the pool of donor countries and expanding the pre-treatment period by switching data sets to capture potential heterogeneity of effects. The evidence I present suggests that Chile’s remarkable economic growth during the period 1985-1997 did not depend on Pinochet’s autocracy. These results further bring into question the effectiveness of the regime to enhance economic growth and the narrative of the Chilean miracle.

Night Watchers and Terrorists, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2020 

A massive movement of night watchers or vigilantes’ patrols emerged among the most impoverished indigenous communities in the Andes at the end of the twentieth century to combat terrorism. Northern peasant patrols based their organization on democratic mechanisms while the southern patrols built a hierarchical structure. How does the variation of external threats shape the variation of governance structures and collective responses within extralegal groups? To organize the provision of security and defense against terrorism, these night watchers required mechanisms to control opportunistic behavior and prevent internal predation. This article develops an organizational theory of defense. The time horizon explains why the night watchers produced arrangements in vertical or horizontal forms. Peasant vigilantes depended on hierarchical mechanisms to enforce their agreements if and only if they confronted a short time horizon and a credible external threat. Comparative analysis of the northern and southern Peruvian communities provides empirical support for the theory.

Fighting on Christmas: brawling as self-governance in rural Peru, (with Raymond March), Journal of Institutional Economics, 2019

This paper analyzes the Peruvian highland tradition of Takanakuy, a public brawling ritual occurring each Christmas to resolve conflicts between local community members. We argue that Takanakuy provides an effective way for locals to resolve disputes that Peru’s formal judicial system is unable or unwilling to settle. Using insights from ethnographic fieldwork, journalistic articles, reports, and academic sources, we find that brawling during Takanakuy encourages social cooperation by preventing potential violence and offering community members a credible mechanism of law enforcement in an orderly fashion with social acceptance.


RESEARCH PAPERS

The Role of Women in Violent Organizations

A review of evidence quantitative and qualitative data gathered from research on terrorism suggests that women play more critical roles within violent organizations than in other legal industries. This article explains the persistent role of women in such violent organizations by examining two specific cases, the Shining Path in Peru and the Iranian revolution. Specifically, it investigates the internal governance institutions and compares them to the arrangements within the societies where these groups emerged. This contribution aims to give an economic insight into the structure that allowed more gender equality within violent organizations. This article supports the call for a much more coherent understanding of the dynamic of the gender gap.

The Shining Path of Peru: An Organizational Theory for Conflict

Violent political insurgencies display resilient structures that allow their growth and success. They must provide incentives to avoid internal rent-seeking among the members and, at the same time, discourage coalitions from undermining the direction and control of the insurgency. I study how insurgencies’ response to these trade-offs determines their political and military structures. A vertical and centralized hierarchy will prevail to minimize monitoring costs. However, a horizontal hierarchy will emerge within the insurgency to cede part of the insurgency surplus to solve their collective action problems and effectively coordinate violence. The evidence rests on the analysis of the Shining Path, the most radical face of the Communist revolution in the Western Hemisphere and a pioneer organization for the most recent insurgencies. The variation of this internal hierarchy, I argue, played a significant role in its dramatic growth from a small group of students to a lethal terrorist organization with international outreach.