I conduct research on comparative politics and political economy of development, with a regional focus on Latin America and substantive focus on political corruption, accountability and government responsiveness.
My book project examines how reactions by political elites moderate the efficacy of anti-corruption policies. I analyze the consequences of initiatives such as independent audits of municipal governments, and removals of mayors from office because of corruption in the context of Brazilian municipalities. I demonstrate how the strategies adopted by political elites to remain in power after corruption is revealed affect the efficacy of anti-corruption policies. I use evidence from a natural experiment and from quasi-experimental methods in addition to extensive archival research (detailed data on corruption cases from judicial records and politicians’ assets).
(please ask me for the most recent draft of the papers)
Political Survival and Politicians’ Enrichment After Anti-Corruption Audits
“Do Biometric Identification Machines Help to Clean Up Elections? Evidence from Colombia.”
Biometric identification machines (BIMs) are part of a new set of tools available to prevent electoral fraud. These machines allow electoral authorities to tackle the impersonation of voters and the illegal substitution of poll workers, and are currently used in approximately 40 countries. This paper investigates the electoral consequences of BIMs and whether political parties use other kinds of electoral fraud to compensate for the potential effects of the new controls. Taking advantage of their partial deployment in elections to department assemblies in Colombia, I find that the presence of BIMs, on average, increased the vote shares of incumbent legislators in municipalities that are governed by mayors in same political party. Strong local parties strategically evade BIMs and use aggregation fraud to compensate for potential losses in their strongholds. Meanwhile, voters’ experiences with vote buying and intimidation were unchanged. By highlighting unintended consequences of anti-fraud interventions, my findings corroborate the importance of comprehensive strategies to ensure electoral integrity to avoid that well-connected politicians are able to circumvent controls.
Other On-going Projects
Ombuds Offices: More Responsive Governments or Redundant Bureaucracy? (Grant from the J-Pal Governance Initiative)
Political and Welfare Consequences of a Major Social Housing Program (My House, My Life) in Brazil.
Gehrke, Manoel. 2018. ”Eleições e corrupção nas prefeituras brasileiras” [Elections and Corruption in Brazilian Municipal Governments] In: Marenco, André and Noll, Maria Izabel. A política, as políticas e os controles: como são governadas as cidades brasileiras. [Politics, policies and controls. How are Brazilian cities governed?] Porto Alegre: Tomo Editorial, pp. 171-184.
Invited Talks and Conference Presentations:
Bocconi University, Milan. 5th WORKSHOP ON THE ECONOMICS OF ORGANIZED CRIME. 2019.
University of Pernambuco, Political Science Department, Seminar, 2018.
“Dialogues about Political Corruption”. State Court of Accounts of Rio Grande do Sul, plenary session, discussed in TCE-Radio. 2017.
American Political Science Association (APSA), 2015 and 2018.
Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), 2016 and 2019.
Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Econometric Society (SBE), 2012 and 2019.
Advancing Electoral Research (ELECDEM), 2013.