The conference seeks to convene scholars who are developing new theories and gathering evidence on the myriad ways in which citizens, government actors, and informal elites behave in developing countries. We are particularly interested in understanding how citizens, bureaucrats and elected officials form attitudes, opinions and beliefs that influence overt behaviors, such as participating in social movements, protest, interactions with the bureaucracy, contributions to public goods, participation in clientelistic exchanges, and voting. By fostering a conversation among scholars working on a range of behaviors in diverse contexts, we hope to concretize and discuss what constitutes (and how we should understand) political behavior in developing countries. For reference, past conference agendas are available online for last year’s PBD18, PBD17, and the inaugural PBD16.

MIT GOV/LAB Planning Committee: Lily Tsai, Danny Hidalgo, Blair Read, Paige Bollen, Ying Gao, Sean Liu, Leah Rosenzweig, Stuart Russell, Nicole Wilson.  

Agenda, November 15

Workshop I 

  • Paige Bollen and Volha Charnysh, MIT – “Dispute Resolution in Heterogeneous Societies”

Judicial Panel

  • Daniel Chen, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST) – “Algorithmic Justice for Development: Using Machine Learning to Identify and Mitigate Bias in Indian Courts” (with Elliott Ash, Sam Asher, Tanaya Devi, Arianna Ornaghi, Paul Novosad, and Bilal Siddiqi)
  • Fiona Shen-Bayh, College of William & Mary – “Ethnic Bias in Judicial Decision-making: Evidence from the Kenyan Appellate Courts” (with Donghyun Danny Choi and J. Andrew Harris)
  • Risa Kitagawa, Northeastern University – “Justice as Fairness? The Impact of Human Rights Trials on Political Legitimacy in El Salvador”

Urban Panel

  • Adam Auerbach, American University  – “Petitioning Patrons: Community Claims and Political Responsiveness in Urban India” (with Tariq Thachil)
  • Shelby Grossman, University of Memphis – “The Collusion Dilemma: Theory with Evidence from Informal Markets in Lagos, Nigeria” (with Alisha Holland)
  • Amanda Robinson, Ohio State University – “Shifting Allegiances? Urban-Rural Linkages, Ethnic Orientation, and Political Behavior in Kenya” (with Rachel Beatty Riedl)


  • Devra Moehler & Monica Lee, Facebook – “Social Science and Preventing Election Interference on Facebook”

Bureaucrat Panel

  • Tara Grillos, Purdue University – “The Social and Behavioral Effects of Decentralization on Health Services Delivery: Evidence from the Honduran Health Sector” (with Alan Zarychta, Krister Andersson and Adriana Molina Garzon)
  • Jan Pierskalla, Ohio State University – “Competence and Control: The Effect of Democratization on the Civil Service” (with Adam Lauretig and Drew Rosenberg)

Misinformation Panel

  • Sumitra Badrinathan, University of Pennsylvania – “Educative Interventions to Combat Misinformation: Evidence from a Field Experiment in India”
  • Asad Liaqat, Harvard  University – “No Representation Without Information: Politician Responsiveness to Citizen Preferences”

Workshop II 

  • Saad Gulzar, Stanford University – “Who Becomes a Party Worker? An At-Scale Recruitment Experiment in India” (with Durgesh Pathak, Sarah Thompson, Aliz Toth)


Poster Session, November 14

  • Akshay Dixit, Harvard University – “Empowering Young People, Shaping Civic Competencies: A Social Accountability Experiment in Bangladesh”
  • Alice Xu, Harvard University- “Segregation, Spatial Externalities, and Preferences for Public Goods across Cities”
  • Ana Maria Montoya, Duke University – “The Judicial Battle Over Land Property Rights: Evidence from Rural Colombia” 
  • Anna Wilke, Columbia University – “Discouraging Mob Justice: A Field Experiment on Household Connections to the Police” 
  • Edgar Franco Vivanco, Stanford University- “Types of Criminal Governance: Evidence from Rio de Janeiro” (with Beatriz Magaloni, Vanessa Melo)
  • Jose Morales-Arilla, Harvard University – “Authoritarian Resilience: Citizen and Regime Responses to Power Cuts in Venezuela” (with Alyssa Huberts)
  • Matias Giannoni, MIT – “Who benefits from forbearance? Results from Two Surveys in Buenos Aires”
  • Maximiliano García Boston University – “Provision of Information and Voting Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Education and Local Governments” (with Loreto Cox, Sylvia Eyzaguirre & Francisco Gallego)
  • Minh Trinh, MIT – “Statistical Misreporting from Below, as Seen from (Very High) Above”
  • Natalia Garbiras-Diaz, University of California Berkeley – “Does compulsory voting breed anti-establishment voting? Evidence from Brazilian Presidential Elections”
  • Tugba Bozcaga, MIT – “The Social Bureaucrat: Social Proximity, Bureaucratic Efficiency, and Local Governance in Turkey”