Research

Working Paper
Nilesh Fernando and Siddharth George. Working Paper. “Debiasing Discriminators: Evidence from the Introduction of Neutral Referees”.Abstract
Evaluators display significant in-group bias in many contexts. This paper uses several reforms to international cricket matches to study how the presence of a neutral evaluator affects bias. Prior to the reform, the two on-field umpires shared the nationality of the home team. We find that the mandated introduction of a neutral umpire reduced discretionary decisions against the foreign team but left decisions requiring no umpire discretion unchanged. We document that this reduction in bias is not just due to replacing biased home umpires. Instead, the presence of a neutral umpire reduces the bias of home umpires. Bias reduction is greatest when an experienced neutral umpire is paired with a less experienced home umpire. Surprisingly, TV monitoring and the introduction of match referees does not affect bias. Collectively, these results suggest bias reduction may result from a combination of conformism and career concerns.
cricket_paper_v7.pdf
Siddharth George and Dominic Ponattu. Working Paper. “Like Father, Like Son? How Political Dynasties Affect Economic Development (JOB MARKET PAPER)”.Abstract
Politics is one of the most dynastic occupations in modern democratic countries. This paper studies how political dynasties affect economic development, using India as a laboratory. We present 3 results: first, using detailed biographical data on all Indian legislators since the colonial period, we show that politicians with a son are twice as likely to establish a dynasty. We use the gender composition of past incumbents' kids as an instrument for each village's exposure to dynastic rule, and find that dynastic rule reduces earnings, asset ownership and public good provision. Second, we isolate founder and descendant effects using constituency boundary changes and a close elections RD design. We find that founders have positive effects on development while descendants have negative effects. Third, we show that selection and incentives explain founder and descendant performance. Founders are positively selected and perform better just before their descendants enter politics, suggesting bequest motives. Direct descendants perform worse than in-laws, and descendants perform worse when their constituency has greater overlap with their father's. These 3 stylised facts are consistent with a simple political agency model where descendants inherit both ability and private electoral advantage, which creates career concerns incentives for founders and moral hazard for descendants. 
Siddharth George, Sarika Gupta, Manoj Kumar, and Yusuf Neggers. Working Paper. “Texting bad politicians out of office: Experimental evidence from Indian elections”.Abstract
Adverse selection to political office is common in many low-income democracies. In India,
24% of MPs have criminal charges, even though criminal politicians have been shown to hurt economic development, worsen poverty, and increase crime. Using a randomized experiment in the context of state assembly elections in the largest state in India, we test whether information constraints and coordination failure among voters are relevant to this bad equilibrium. We partnered with three major Indian telecom companies to conduct a mobile-based voter information experiment across more than 3,800 villages. Mobile subscribers in treatment villages received voice and text messages informing them of the number and type of criminal charges against all major party candidates in their constituency, or election-related messages without criminality content. We find that voters respond to the content of the information provided – in areas where candidates are revealed to have severe charges, votes for those candidates drop by 7.6 percent and votes for candidates revealed to have no criminal charges increase by 6.7 percent and on average. As a result, overall turnout increases by 1.6 percent in these areas.
neudc_paper_180730.pdf
Jeff Picel, Valentin Bolotnyy, Edoardo Teso, Andrea Passalacqua, and Siddharth George. Working Paper. “Valuing lobbyists' professional networks”.Abstract

We measure the value of D.C. lobbyists’ connections to senators and members of the house by tracking changes in lobbying income after connections are lost or gained. We use two measures of connection: donations from the lobbyist to the politician, and shared issues between the lobbyist’s projects and the politician’s congressional committee assignments. We find that the loss of a connection due to the politician exiting office hurts lobbyists’ income going for- ward, controlling for current income, but we do not find consistent evidence of a benefit from gaining a connection due to the politician entering office. The largest impact we find is the loss of income from the exit of a connection in the Senate, and we provide evidence from close elections supporting the causal interpretation

Kathryn Nicholson and Siddharth George. Working Paper. “What happened to Midnight’s Children? Long-run impacts of refugee resettlement from the Partition of India”.
Kapil Patidar and Siddharth George. Working Paper. “Who should hold the purse strings? Empirical evidence on fiscal decentralisation from Indian budgets”.