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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 an economic theory of how a society's distribution of power and 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. Given any initial distribution of power, this model provides a unique prediction of how it will evolve in equilibrium. Three types of stable distributions are approached in the long run, termed inclusive, oligarchic, and dictatorial, where all power is uniformly distributed among all players, a few players, or held by just one player, respectively. When political competition is left unchecked, inclusive regimes are generically unstable in large societies while dictatorships and sufficiently concentrated oligarchies can always remain. This paper not only provides a game theoretical explanation for the observed tendency of power consolidation to take place in large societies – a longstanding empirical puzzle – but it also provides policy implications for how to counteract this tendency. Finally, I show how larger population sizes can induce stronger dictatorships without bound.
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.