Hello! I am an Advanced Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, where I am tenure-track faculty. I am also Graduate Faculty with BU’s Department of Political Science, a Core Faculty at the Global Development Policy Center and affiliated faculty with the Institute for Economic Development. My expertise is in comparative politics with a substantive focus on gender, South Asia, representation, political economy, and institutions. My research combines careful causal identification with innovative theory building to understand the conditions under which policies intended to improve equality may deepen inequality, as well as when, how, and why crises may mobilize long-term support for improving equality.

A series of forthcoming publications captures the scope and dynamics of backlash to gender-equalizing reforms around a crucial good – land inheritance – in the world’s largest democracy: India. My articles are forthcoming in the Journal of Politics and the Journal of Development Economics, and Asian Survey, and my first book manuscript, titled Women, Power, and Property: The Paradox of Gender Equality Laws in India will be in print as of August 10th, 2020 with Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Gender and Politics Series.

In Women, Power, and Property, I study the relationship between political representation and economic empowerment. I find a paradoxical outcome of quotas improving women’s political voice: representation ensures enforcement of women’s new economic rights, but also mobilizes backlash against them. I theorize that backlash to gender-equalizing reform depends on the “cost” expected from enforcement of women’s rights. Indeed, I find that women can reduce this backlash when they gain representation and rights at critical junctures. In India, such opportunities occur around marriage negotiations, when women have the opportunity to strike integrative bargains that improve familial welfare: trading traditional monetary dowry for property inheritance. My work confirms the power of well-designed quotas to not only to improve women’s economic claims but broaden their acceptance by changing perceptions of parity. A recent news article about my research is here.

I am the recipient of a Marshall Scholarship and Truman Scholarship, and have worked to develop, implement, and analyze randomized field experiments studying the impact of economic empowerment on social and economic equality with MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) and the World Bank.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at rebrule ‘at’ bu ‘dot’ edu. For more details, see my CV, research, teaching, data I use, and @BruleRachel on Twitter.