NBER Working Papers by Pablo Querubin Borrero

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Working Papers

July 2016Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies
with Melissa Dell: w22395
This study uses discontinuities in U.S. strategies employed during the Vietnam War to estimate their causal impacts. It identifies the effects of bombing by exploiting rounding thresholds in an algorithm used to target air strikes. Bombing increased the military and political activities of the communist insurgency, weakened local governance, and reduced non-communist civic engagement. The study also exploits a spatial discontinuity across neighboring military regions, which pursued different counterinsurgency strategies. A strategy emphasizing overwhelming firepower plausibly increased insurgent attacks and worsened attitudes towards the U.S. and South Vietnamese government, relative to a hearts and minds oriented approach.
December 2011The Control of Politicians in Normal Times and Times of Crisis: Wealth Accumulation by U.S. Congressmen, 1850-1880
with James M. Snyder, Jr.: w17634
We employ a regression discontinuity design based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. congress between 1850-1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media and other monitors might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.

Published: Snyder JM, Querubin P. The Control of Politicians in Normal Times and Times of Crisis: Wealth Accumulation by U.S. Congressmen, 1850-1880 . :40Quarterly Journal of Political Science. 2013;8(4)9-450. citation courtesy of

May 2008When Does Policy Reform Work? The Case of Central Bank Independence
with Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, James A. Robinson: w14033
We argue that the question of whether and when policy reform works should be investigated together with the political economy factors responsible for distortionary policies in the first place. These not only determine the initial distortions, but also often shape policy in the post-reform environment. Distortionary policies are more likely to be adopted when politicians are unconstrained and unaccountable to citizens. This reasoning implies that policy reform should have modest effects in societies where the political system already places constraints on politicians. It also implies, however, that in societies with weak political constraints, which are often those adopting the most distortionary policies, policy reforms may be ineffective because the underlying political economy proble...

Published: Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & Pablo Querubin & James A. Robinson, 2008. "When Does POlicy Reform Work? The Case of Central Bank Independence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 351-429. citation courtesy of

June 2007Economic and Political Inequality in Development: The Case of Cundinamarca, Colombia
with Daron Acemoglu, María Angélica Bautista, James A. Robinson: w13208
Is inequality harmful for economic growth? Is the underdevelopment of Latin America related to its unequal distribution of wealth? A recently emerging consensus claims not only that economic inequality has detrimental effects on economic growth in general, but also that differences in economic inequality across the American continent during the 19th century are responsible for the radically different economic performances of the north and south of the continent. In this paper we investigate this hypothesis using unique 19th century micro data on land ownership and political office holding in the state of Cundinamarca, Colombia. Our results shed considerable doubt on this consensus. Even though Cundinamarca is indeed more unequal than the Northern United States at the time, within Cundi...

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