Updated: Aug 6

Co-authored with Mats Ahrenshop, Saad Gulzar, and Luke Sonnet.

We report results of a forecasting experiment about a randomized controlled trial that was conducted in the field. The experiment asks Ph.D. students, faculty, and policy practitioners to forecast (1) compliance rates for the RCT and (2) treatment effects of the intervention. The forecasting experiment randomizes the order of questions about compliance and treatment effects and the provision of information that a pilot experiment was conducted which produced null results. Forecasters were excessively optimistic about treatment effects and unresponsive to item order as well as to in- formation about a pilot. Those who declare themselves expert in the area relevant to the intervention are particularly resistant to new information that the treatment is ineffective. We interpret our results as suggesting that we should exercise caution when undertaking expert forecasting, since experts may have unrealistic expectations and may be inflexible in altering these even when provided new information. Download the full paper below.

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  • Co-authored with Saad Gulzar and Luke Sonnet

Updated: Aug 6

Co-authored with Saad Gulzar and Luke Sonnet

How politicians and voters communicate with one another grounds democratic accountability. We show that in Pakistan existing face-to-face communication may not be as elite-skewed as is commonly assumed. In a field experiment, we test improving communication with Interactive Voice Response technology, allowing politicians to script and record questions for voters and voters to respond on cell phones. We find that while IVR changes the initiator, scope, content, scale, personalism, and frequency of communication, and politicians and voters exhibit eagerness to engage, politicians do not follow through with changes in policy-relevant behavior and voters' downstream political attitudes and behavior remain unaltered. Read the full paper below.

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Updated: Aug 6

Co-authored with Eric Kramon, George Ofosu, and Luke Sonnet

This paper studies election fraud in the competitive but not fully consolidated multiparty democracy of Ghana. Results from a randomized field experiment are used to investigate the effectiveness of newly-introduced biometric identification machines in reducing election fraud in Ghana's December 2012 national elections. We uncover a non-random pattern to the frequent breakdowns of the equipment. In polling stations with a randomly assigned domestic election observer, machines were about 50 percent less likely to experience breakdown as they were in polling stations without observers. We also find that electoral competition in the parliamentary race is strongly associated with greater machine breakdown.

Machine malfunction in turn facilitated election fraud, including overvoting, registry discrepancies, and ballot stuffing, especially where election observers were not present. Our results substantiate that partisan competition may promote election fraud in a newly-established competitive democracy. They also show that domestic election observers improve election integrity through direct observation and also thanks to their second-order effects on election administration.

Recently discussed in The Monkey Cage.