1. The Capture of Tenochtitlán
  2. Pueblos de Indios
My interests within the discipline are diverse, currently I am working on three paralell research agendas, including several projects with brilliant co-authors.
Research Agenda
The Historic Origins of Conflcit and Cooperation
The Causes and Consequences of Criminal Violence in Latin America
The Political Economy of Human Capital and Educational Policy
Published Work

  • Drugs, Bullets and Ballots: The Impact of Violence on the 2012 Presidential Election (2014). In Mexico's Evolving Democracy: A Comparative Study of the 2012 Elections, edited by Jorge Dominguez, Kenneth Greene, Chapell Lawson, and Alejandro Moreno, JHU Press, (with Beatriz Magaloni , Alberto Diaz-Cayeros  and Jorge Olarte ).   Book review available here .

Working Papers
  • Colonial Rule, Local Governance and Development: Evidence from Tlaxcala, Mexico. (APSA 2016, MPSA 2016, LASA 2017). In this paper, I investigate the effects of political autonomy as a byproduct of early colonial alliances. Specifically, I study the case of Tlaxcala, Mexico. This province enjoyed unique privileges as a result of its alliance with the Spaniards during the conquest. I test the effects of Tlaxcalan colonial institutions using a geographic regression discontinuity approach with data from 1930, 1940 and 2010.

  • Redistributive Justice and Social Order: Indigenous Claims in the Courts of Colonial Mexico. I develop a theory to explain the existence of an institutional framework designed to protect the exploited group in a colonial setting (i.e. the indigenous people). Here, the ruler and the indigenous people reach a coalition to control settler’s power and create social order. Then, I turn to the question of how the outcome of this institution  --protection to the indigenous groups-- might vary. I provide evidence from 30,000+ indigenous claims and its ruling in court from 1597 to 1820.
  • Killing in the Slums: The Problem of Social Order and Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro.  (Under revision)  With a focus on Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (slums), we explore the micro-logics of policing as the state transforms its security strategy, from a heavily militarized approach to a form of community-oriented policing known as the Pacifying Police Units (UPPs). We employ a mixed-method research design combining qualitative interviews, a community survey (N=5,300), and quasi-experimental statistical models, based on exogenously given geographic discontinuities along UPP borders, using more than 20,000 geo-referenced homicides and killings by the police. (with Beatriz Magaloni and Vanessa Melo).

  • Measuring Civilan-Criminal Cooperation and Trust in the Police with Anonymous Calls from Rio de Janeiro. (APSA 2017). Police corruption and improper use of force are pressing problems in developing countries. Measuring the true prevalence of these problems raises some empirical issues since they are commonly subject to underreporting due to citizen’ mistrust in authorities. To overcome these challenges, in this paper I use a unique dataset of anonymous reports collected in Rio de Janeiro by the crime hot-line Disque-Denuncia (DD). 

Projects in Progess
  • From Indios to Citizens: the Unintended Effects of Liberalism in Latin America. In this project I explore the transition from colonies to independent republics in Latin America. In particular, I focus on how Indigenous lands and their local governments (formely protected by the Crown) were captured by the new economic and political elite.

  • The Historical Roots of Social Capital and Community Governance: A Survey Experiment in the Former Indigenous Republics of Rural Mexico. Social norms determine patterns of conflict and cooperation within and between communities. In this project, I explore the nature of such norms and their outcomes using historical allocation of institutions, survey experiments and behavioral games. 

  • Private Provision of Public Goods: The Case of School Fees in Public Schools. (with Aala Abdelgadir ). In several developing countries public education is supposedly free of charge. However, public schools often collect extra fees from parents. We explore the causes and consequences of these fees using quantitative and qualitative evidence from Mexico and Uganda. 

  • Gang Recruitment and the Reversal of Gender Gap in Education: Evidence from Mexican Schools. (with Cesángari Lopez) In some countries girls often have lower drop-out rates and oftern perform better in school than boys. Using data from Mexico we study an alternative explanation for this reversal. In particular, we examine the effect of gang recruitment in schools as a consequece of demand for labor from drug cartels.

  • The Political Economy of Talent: An Analysis of High Performing Students in PISA from a Comparative Perspective. (with Blanca Heredia). High skilled students are rarely identified in time to make the most of their potential. Few countries have implemented effective policies to identify those students at an early age and provide them with an adequate educational environment. In this paper, we provide a quantitative exploration of the individual, environmental and school factors that explain high scores in PISA as a proxy for talent. 

Other work
  •   La geografía electoral de 2012 . (2012 ). Center for US-Mexican Studies-University of California-San Diego, Program on Poverty and Governance-Stanford University, México Evalúa, México. (with Alberto Díaz Cayeros, Beatriz Magaloni and Jorge Olarte).

  • When Change Matters: Identifying Score Gains School Determinants in Mexico, an intra-cohort value-added approach (2013). Economia Mexicana Nueva Epoca, Vol. Cierre de Época.