Research

Randomization Inference with Rainfall Data: Using Historical Weather Patterns for Variance Estimation.” Political Analysis 25.3 (2017): 277-288.

Many recent papers in political science and economics use rainfall as a strategy to facilitate causal inference. Rainfall shocks are as-if randomly assigned, but the assignment of rainfall by county is highly correlated across space. Since clustered assignment does not occur within well-defined boundaries, it is challenging to estimate the variance of the effect of rainfall on political outcomes. I propose using randomization inference with historical weather patterns from 73 years as potential randomizations. I replicate the influential work on rainfall and voter turnout in presidential elections in the United States by Gomez, Hansford, and Krause (2007) and compare the estimated average treatment effect (ATE) to a sampling distribution of estimates under the sharp null hypothesis of no effect. The alternate randomizations are random draws from national rainfall patterns on election and would-be election days, which preserve the clustering in treatment assignment and eliminate the need to simulate weather patterns or make assumptions about unit boundaries for clustering. I find that the effect of rainfall on turnout is subject to greater sampling variability than previously estimated using conventional standard errors.

 

“(Un)Natural Disasters: Distributive Politics in Northeast Brazil.” Revise and resubmit.

https://blog.mpsanet.org/2016/09/13/distributive-politics-in-ne-brazil/

Since natural disasters are often seen as `random,’ politicians can declare states of emergency and justify targeting disaster relief toward specific populations for political advantage. This paper analyzes the role of political discretion and electoral cycles in municipal declaration of drought in Brazil. I use two sources of exogeneity (rainfall shocks and a fixed electoral cycle) to isolate the effect of non-climatic factors on drought declarations. I find that drought declarations, which trigger relief, are more likely in mayoral election years and for mayors from the prominent PT party. Incumbents are more likely to run for re-election and win when they declare a drought in the election year, during drought or high rainfall. The results are consistent with qualitative findings that mayors trade drought relief for votes. This study highlights the long-term relationship between politics and natural disasters in the distribution of critical resources.

Participatory Measurement, Monitoring, and Management of Groundwater in Northeast Brazil.” With Brigitte Zimmerman Seim and Alexandra (Sasha) Richey. EGAP Metaketa III: Natural Resource Governance Field Experiment

http://egap.org/metaketa/metaketa-iii-natural-resource-governance

The study uses a RCT methodology to evaluate two programs in Northeast Brazil, a semi-arid region that faces declining water availability from prolonged drought, municipal growth, and unsustainable use of existing water supplies. The sample is 120 communities across 10 randomly selected municipalities of Ceará. The two programs will be:

1. Workshop about groundwater use with all community members; Selection of a community water committee by community members; Training of the community water committee to measure well levels, share weekly measurements on groundwater levels with research team and community members, and distribute monthly summaries created by research team.
2. Training of the community water committee to conduct monthly household visits with community members to discuss water use and make water use plans to encourage sustainable water use. (Additive to first program)

As Co-PI, I am currently coordinating the implementation of the intervention. I oversaw the recruiting, training, and management of workshop trainers for the main intervention. I recruited, trained, and managed two four-person teams of baseline survey enumerators in the field for three months in 2017. I wrote a majority of the baseline survey and coded the ODK tablet software; piloted the survey in the field with the enumerators; conducted municipal sample selection based on hydrogeological, governance, and size characteristics; conducted community sample selection; and conducted multiple field visits and  preliminary interviews in the field with state agencies and rural citizens.

“Monitoring & Evaluation Manual in Fragile States.” With Alexander Hamilton, Craig Hammer, Tara Slough, and Erin York. World Bank. Forthcoming.

This evaluation manual seeks to identify best practices for program monitoring and evaluation, with a focus on fragile and conflict-affected states, to facilitate evidence based decision-making. The target audience is statisticians working in the public sector, university students, and civil society members. I wrote or contributed to the following chapters: Theory of Change and Evaluation Overview, Observational Approaches, Qualitative Methods, and Disseminating the Findings of Evaluations.

“Religious and Racial Diversity: Studying Public Goods Access in Brazil.” With Tara Slough. Working paper.

 

“Divine Punishment or Bad Politics: The Effects of Religion on Investment in Public Goods” With Allison Carnegie and Lindsay Dolan. Working paper.