When Running for Office Runs in the Family: Political Dynasties as Informal Coordinating Institutions (with Laurence Go) [under review]

ABSTRACT: Political dynasties exist in practically every variant of democracy. Yet, the literature has not theorized on how the forms and functions of political dynasties benefit their members. This paper presents such a theory, conceptualizing political dynasties as informal coordinating organizations. In contexts with weak formal organizations, such as weak political parties, dynasties mitigate political conflict and enhance political coordination across offices by replacing a potential political opponent with a member of the dynasty. The resulting family-based preference alignment allows dynasties to engage in policies that enable them to accrue political power. We test this theory’s implications in the Philippine context. Employing a regression discontinuity design on a sample of mayors, we show that (i) dynastic politicians spend relatively more on public goods and (ii) increasing public goods spending is driven by preference alignment, which leads to less conflict and greater coordination between politicians.

The Search for Spices and Souls: Colonial Missions as the Colonial State in the Philippines

Abstract: A growing literature has examined the role of the colonial missions on long-run economic and political outcomes. These results stem from the emphasis of missions as providers of human capital. This paper re-conceptualizes the colonial mission. It argues that missions were part and parcel of the colonial state, and served as an extension of the central state apparatus, establishing governance in the periphery when expansion was too costly for the secular bureaucrats and soldiers of the colonial state. The implication of the mission as colonial state theory is that exposure to colonial missions is correlated with higher levels of state capacity and economic development in the present. The theory is tested in the context of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. The results show that (1) missionaries settled in areas that were not economically profitable to secular colonizers, and (2) greater exposure to missions during the colonial period is associated with higher levels of state capacity and economic development today.

Big Business as Development Strategy: Agricultural Elites and Technological Progress in the Early 20th Century Philippines

Abstract: Agricultural elites---the holders of economic resources in the agricultural sector---are often considered to be detrimental to structural transformation and technological progress. This paper argues that under conditions of technological backwardness and the high cost of technology agricultural elites are responsible for economic transformation from labor to capital intensive production and subsequent increases in productivity. The argument is evaluated in the context of the Philippine sugar industry in the early 1900s. The results show that provinces with greater numbers of agricultural elites were more likely to shift to more capital intensive production, leading to subsequent gains in productivity.