Research

RESEARCH STATEMENT

 

 


PUBLICATIONS

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

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

Did Pinochet Cause the Chilean Miracle?

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 institutional processes. I find that, relative to the control, income per capita did not diverge till several years after Pinochet’s coup. In contrast, health outcomes measured by life expectancy improved immediately after Pinochet’s installment, though only slightly. The evidence I present suggests that the remarkable economic growth did not depend on Pinochet’s autocracy. Also, the results on life expectancy show that positive health effects may not be an exclusive consequence of democracies.

 Night Watchers and Terrorists

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.

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.


WORK IN PROGRESS

The Extensive Role of Terrorism: Competition and Coordination

Several criminal organizations depend on the enforcement of their rules to engage in coordinated violence successfully. Since they are not able to refer to the government for this purpose, they rely entirely on their capacity to establish abiding agreements that allow them to reach their objectives. This paper takes under analysis the use of terrorism as a coordination strategy to expand and enforce a terrorist organization. It takes into consideration the case of the terrorist group, Shining Path, the most radical expression of Marxist revolution in the Western Hemisphere. Within the first months since their establishment as a violent group, the Shining Path developed a hierarchical organizational form, which allowed them to overcome internal conflict and exploit terror as an instrumental strategy to build its structure. This organizational approach, I argue, plays a significant role in the rapid effectiveness of most terrorist organizations.

The Long-run effects of Violence on State Capacity: Evidence from the Shining Path in Peru

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.