Welcome! I’m a PhD Candidate at the Wilf Family Department of Politics at NYU. Beginning in the Summer of 2019, I will be a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Social Norms Group.

My research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics, political economy and political psychology, with a particular interest in developing countries.  My dissertation analyzes the impact of providing goods and services on an authority’s legitimacy and ultimately on citizen cooperation with the authority. To do so I use both formal and experimental methods.

In the main paper in my dissertation, Hearts and Minds: A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment in Mexico I explore whether an authority can increase citizen cooperation to a public good by giving them, previous to their decision to cooperate, a monetary transfer in a behavioral game in the lab. The experiment is designed to disentangle the reasons for which transfers may increase citizen cooperation. In particular I test whether giving transfers to a charity has the same legitimizing effect as giving it to the citizens themselves. I find that cash transfers increase an authority’s legitimacy as compared to a case in which the authority withholds the money. However the transfers do not increase an authority’s legitimacy when compared to a base case in which the authority cannot give a transfer. The effect then is driven by a drop in the authority’s legitimacy when they withhold the money. The experimental evidence is consistent with an increase in legitimacy, rather than citizens only being reciprocal, since seeing an authority give money to charity has the same effect as receiving the money.

Some of my other projects analyze the impact of emotions, in particular fear, on collective action. In a paper published at the Journal of Theoretical Politics, along with my coauthors Lauren Young and Mateo Vasquez-Cortes, I find that, counterintuitively, fear under some circumstances can increase citizens’ willingness to participate in a protest or revolt against the regime.

My research has been funded by the CESS Lab at NYU, the Public Safety Lab at NYU and the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE).

Before coming to NYU I studied a BA in Economics and a BA in  Political Science at ITAM in Mexico City and worked as an analyst for the Public Finance and Infrastructure team at Evercore Partners and as an independent consultant. In my free time I enjoy watching baseball  and football (I’m an avid NY Mets and KC Chiefs fan) and discovering new international cuisines.

You can contact me at abraham.aldama@nyu.edu