Publications

Submitted
Kennedy, Ryan, Aseem Mahajan, and Johannes Urpelainen. Submitted. “Monitoring electricity quality in rural India using mobile technology,”.
Mahajan, Aseem, SP Harish, and Johannes Urpelainen. Submitted. “Understanding the behavioral impact of solar lanterns”.
Bas, Muhammet, and Aseem Mahajan. Submitted. “Security implications of geoengineering and countergeoengineering”.Abstract

Scientists predict higher global temperatures over this century. While this may benefit some countries, most will face varying degrees of damages. This has motivated research on solar geoengineering, technology that allows countries to unilaterally and temporarily lower global temperatures. To better understand the security implications of this technology, we develop a simple theory that incorporates solar geoengineering, counter-geoengineering to reverse its effects, and the use of military force to prevent others from modifying temperatures. We find that when countries' temperature preferences diverge, applications of geoengineering and counter-geoengineering can be highly inefficient due to deployment in opposite directions. Due to this inefficiency, under certain conditions, countries may prefer military interventions over peaceful ones. Cooperation that avoids a waste of resources can emerge in repeated settings, but difficulties in monitoring or attributing interventions make such arrangements less attractive. We verify some of our modeling assumptions and evaluate the model's implications using original survey data.

Mahajan, Aseem, Reuben Kline, and Dustin Tingley. Submitted. “ Collective risk and distributional equity in climate change bargaining”.Abstract
International climate negotiations occur against the backdrop of increasing collective risk: as long as collective mitigation efforts continue to fail, the likelihood of climate change-induced catastrophic economic loss will continue to increase. Nonetheless, no existing climate bargaining model includes this characteristic feature. We introduce a novel bargaining game that incorporates collective risk, and investigate its effects in an incentivized experiment by manipulating two important distributional equity principles related to climate change: the capacity to pay for its mitigation and vulnerability to its negative effects. Contrary to previous research, our results show that the less vulnerable parties do not exploit the greater vulnerability of their bargaining partners, rather they are more generous. Conversely, parties with greater capacity are less generous in their offers. Both collective risk itself and its consequences in light of the recent IPCC report make it all the more urgent to better understand this crucial strategic feature of climate change bargaining.
collective_risk_and_distributional_equity.pdf
Mahajan, Aseem, Roland Pongou, and Jean-Baptiste Tondji. Submitted. “Supermajority Politics: equilibrium range, diversity, and compromise”.Abstract

Do legislative bodies’ voting rules affect the diversity of equilibrium policies observed across them, and if so, to what extent? To what degree do these voting rules affect legislative compromise and the stability of the social optimum? Using a spatial model of political competition with single-peaked preferences, we examine these questions in settings where changing incumbent or proposed policies requires supermajority consensus. We develop three findings pertaining to equilibrium policies that are immune to change by any supermajority coalition. First, we prove that at least one equilibrium policy exists and then find the maximum number of equilibrium policies that exist as a function of the supermajority’s size. Policy diversity increases in the size of the supermajority coalition needed to change the status quo, and the Median Voter Theorem is a special case of the result with minimal policy diversity. Second, we find the optimal level of compromise needed by a leader to ensure that her proposed policy is not defeated and establish that compromise decreases in the size of the coalition neededto change policy. Third, we identify the minimal supermajority rule that ensures the stability of the social optimum. The robustness of these findings and their theoretical and policy implications are further investigated in the paper.

MahajanPongouTondjiDraft_11082019.pdf
Agrawal, Shalu, et al. Submitted. “Drivers of household electricity demand in rural India”.
Forthcoming
Blankenship, Brian, et al. Forthcoming. “Increasing rural electrification through connection campaigns”. Energy Policy.
Thomas, Daniel, et al. Forthcoming. “Understanding segmentation in rural electricity markets”. Energy Economics.
2019
Kennedy, Ryan, and Johannes Urpelainen. 2019. “Quality of service predicts willingness to pay for household electricity connections in rural India”. Energy Policy (129) : 319-326. Publisher's VersionAbstract

While rural electrification has been a high priority for many governments in the developing world, the factors that make individual households more likely to pay for a connection have received insufficient attention. In particular, many studies have dealt with the role of affordability of grid connections, but they have generally avoided studying the effects of service quality. Estimating the effect of quality on willingness of potential customers to pay is a difficult task because of self-selection – if quality is important, those in higher quality service areas are more likely to have a connection. Using household data from rural India, we estimate a Heckman selection model to deal with this issue and find a substantial impact of quality on willingness to pay for a connection in India. The results suggest that improving the quality of connections is critical to improving access.

2018
Mahajan, Aseem K., Dustin Tingley, and Gernot Wagner. 2018. “Fast cheap and imperfect? American public opinion about solar geoengineering”. Environmental Politics.