Are Quotas in Two Dimensions Better than One? Intersectional Representation & Group Relations in India” (with Aliz Toth). SSRN Working Paper; GDP Center Human Capital Initiative Working Paper.

Abstract: Do quotas mandating descriptive representation dismantle social hierarchy? Quotas are typically utilized as solutions to a single form of political exclusion. But systemic oppression occurs on multiple dimensions. Thus, mandating political inclusion on one identity may strengthen exclusion along others. Are quotas mandating representation on two dimensions of identity better? We posit that two-dimensional quotas disrupt cross-cutting discrimination, improving inter-group relations comprehensively. Exploiting their quasirandom allocation, we analyze the causal effect of the world’s largest quota system for women, disadvantaged ethnic groups (Scheduled Tribes), and women from these ethnic groups in India. Utilizing multiple datasets covering all of mainland India since quotas’ imposition, we find that one-dimensional quotas magnify social barriers to interactions and increase inter-group conflict. In comparison, two-dimensional quotas consistently improve relations and diminish conflict. Suggestive evidence indicates this relationship travels globally. Our results demonstrate the necessity, and limitations, of using descriptive representation to transform social relations.

“When Quotas Are Not Enough: Inequalities and Political Representation in Rural India” (with Simon Chauchard and Alyssa Heinze). Under Review. Pre-Analysis Plan registered with EGAP. Available upon request.

Research on representative democracy often assumes that elected officials from disadvantaged and dominant groups are equally influential once in office. Drawing on an original survey in 319 Indian village councils, we leverage both reputational measures and behavioral observations to show that this assumption does not hold. Women elected through gender quotas do not equally affect decision-making in village councils after their election. Analyses suggest that gender disadvantage can be magnified or mitigated by inequalities on other dimensions. Recognition of this underappreciated form of political inequality is imperative for scholars to accurately identify the strengths and limitations of descriptive representation. From a policy standpoint, this suggests that reforms aiming to increase the representation of members of disadvantaged groups (e.g. quotas) may not alone suffice to enable individuals from traditionally excluded groups to affect policy.

“Covid, Climate Shocks & Women’s Economic Engagement: Experimental Evidence on Crisis-Induced Coordination in Bangladesh” (with Akshay Dixit). Pre-Analysis Plan registered with EGAP. Available upon request.


“Proxy Politics: Representation and Political Inequality in Rural India” (with Simon Chauchard and Alyssa Heinze). Book Manuscript. Pre-Analysis Plan registered with EGAP. Available upon request.