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I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Texas Tech University. My research applies economic theory to study dynamic political economy questions. My recent projects are on the dynamics of inequality, robust mechanism design, and strategic communication.
Abstract: I develop a model of how a society’s distribution of political power and economic resources evolves over time. Multiple lineages of players compete by accumulating power, which is modeled as an asset that increases the probability of winning conflicts over resources. This model provides sharp equilibrium predictions for how a society’s distribution of power evolves and whether it approaches a dictatorial, oligarchic, or inclusive regime in the long run. My main result shows that power and resources inevitably fall into the hands of a few when political competition is left unchecked in large societies. This provides an explanation for a longstanding empirical puzzle: this phenomenon – known as the Iron Law of Oligarchy – appears to be supported by historical evidence, but its underlying mechanism has been an open question to date. My main result also suggests that persistently rising inequality observed in large countries such as the United States will not self‐correct; in light of this, I also provide insights into the policy interventions that can be used to counteract rising inequality in large societies.
Abstract: Online voting mechanisms (e.g. polls) are a potentially powerful, cost-effective means of collecting large amounts of data about preferences, but such large-scale data collection has proven to be vulnerable to sabotage (e.g. by internet trolls) if proper precautions are not taken. To this end, we consider the problem of designing a voting mechanism that is robust to derailment by external groups. We show that plurality voting and other standard mechanisms are often not robust to sabotage; in fact it is sometimes preferable to not run any poll at all. The optimal voting mechanism is found to make saboteurs indifferent between each alternative they can vote for, since this undermines their ability to adversely affect the designer's predictions of other voters' preferences.
I study how a sender can use verifiable binary evidence to influence a receiver about a binary state when the relevance of information is ex ante uncertain and asymmetrically known by the sender. The sender has access to two pieces of evidence: one they know to be perfectly informative of the state and one that is completely uninformative. Although full disclosure of evidence is possible in equilibrium, the receiver generically cannot fully unravel which piece of evidence is relevant. Consequently, the Receiver may gain little to no information about the state even when all evidence is disclosed.