Research

Job Market Paper

An efficient bureaucracy is a central determinant of economic performance and relies on appropriately matching bureaucrats to tasks. However, match-quality may be compromised by political rent-seeking, reducing bureaucratic capacity. I study whether increased transparency, induced by politician disclosure laws, impacts the efficiency of bureaucrat assignment in India. To do so, I collect detailed information on bureaucrats' qualifications and career paths and construct a novel measure of skills mismatch—an index capturing the match-quality between bureaucrat skill and task assignment. Using the staggering of state assembly elections to identify the effects of disclosure laws, I find that information disclosure reduces mismatch. The effects are larger in posts that are more important for policy implementation and for tasks that bureaucrats perceive to be more prestigious. In addition, bureaucrats with greater skill are more likely to reach prestigious positions in more transparent states. Overall, the results show that transparency reforms promote meritocracy within public organizations.

Working Papers

Political distortions are prevalent in many developing countries and can imply substantial productivity losses. Theory is ambiguous as to whether greater openness to trade amplifies or reduces the effects of such distortions. This paper shows that trade liberalization in India decreased the value of firms' political connections, suggesting a reduction in political distortions. First, using variation in firm connections stemming from political turnover, we identify that political connections increased firm performance by 10–20%. Second, we evaluate how the value of political connections changed after India's externally imposed tariff reductions, using a triple-difference and difference-in-discontinuities design. We find that political connections became substantially less valuable when tariffs on input goods were reduced. Our findings imply that access to international markets reduces firms' dependence on political connections to source input goods, thus reducing the distortionary effect of such connections. The effects appear stronger in more corrupt states, where baseline political distortions are expected to be higher. Our results suggest a new margin for gains from trade in the presence of political distortions through a direct effect of trade liberalization on the prevalence of such distortions.


Work in Progress

“Corruption and Social Unrest”


“Public Servants in Private Firms”


Publications

Alleviating global poverty: a note on the experimental approach” (with Peter Fredriksson, Eva Mörk, Torsten Persson and Jakob Svensson)

Poverty in Contemporary Economic Thought (Eds. Mats Lundahl, Daniel Rauhut and Neelambar Hatti). London: Routledge, 2021


Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), 2017

  • Popular summary Dagens Nyheter September 23, 2016 [In Swedish]

  • Featured in: Expressen, Forsknings & Framsteg, Göteborgs-Posten, Hallandsposten, Helsingborgs Dagblad, Jämtlands Tidning, Kristianstadsbladet, Nya Wermlands-Tidningen, Svenska Dagbladet, Sydsvenskan


Ekonomisk Debatt 44(7), 2016