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Political Economy, Governance and Institutions

The capacity of the state to deliver public goods and services demanded by an electorate is key to the democratic process. Important issues in Pakistan, such as weak fiscal capacity, lack of public action or escalating conflict are mediated through political institutions, interests, processes and structures. This research cluster engages with questions regarding how these issues interact with politics. In addition to mapping out challenges, solutions for policy reform are identified.

Projects and Papers

Exercising Her Right: Civic and Political Pathways to Women's Political Participation in Pakistan
Research Project | Principal Investigators: Ali Cheema, Shandana Mohmand (University of Sussex), Sarah Khan (Columbia University), and Asad Liaqat (Harvard University)
Gender equality in political participation is vital for well-functioning democracies. But Pakistan's gender gap in voter turnout, political engagement, and candidacy remains stark. This research project evaluates and designs interventions to increase women's political participation for the 2018 elections.
See publications
Policies for Smart Policing amid Punjab's Urban Transformation
Research Project | Principal Investigators: Ali Cheema, Zulfiqar Hameed (Police Service of Pakistan) and Muhammad Farooq Naseer
Punjab has seen rising crime since the 1990s. This trend is driven mostly by the province's rapidly growing cities. Drawing from police case registries and an original victimization survey, this study provides fresh insight to an under-studied area: the relationship between urbanization, crime, and policing in Punjab. Based on its findings, the study maps out priorities for reform to improve public safety.
See publications
Election 2018: Political Attitudes Survey
Research Project | Principal Investigators: Ali Cheema and Asad Liaqat (Harvard University)
This project surveys voter attitudes regarding the 2018 Election. It provides insight into how voters perceive the current government, the important issues, their own situation and the leading candidates.
See publications

The Political Economy of Economic Empowerment: Bringing Politics and Society Back In
Research Paper | Principal Investigator: Ali Cheema
Do economic interventions in the least developed countries work? Ali Cheema, Research Fellow at IDEAS, argues in a paper for the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) that these interventions are ineffective when they fail to take social and political context into account. He reviews the evidence on how collective action and institutions can either block or aid economic empowerment policies.
Read the paper

Electricity Policy and Governance
Policy Paper | Authors: Anjum Nasim and Umbreen Fatima
This research outlines the electricity tariff determination process and considers the likely changes in the federal and provincial shares of the divisible pool of tax revenue if a tariff differential subsidy were given to the provinces in the form of a revenue share from the divisible pool.
Read the working paper


Dynastic Politics and Underdevelopment
Research Project | Principal Investigators: Ali CheemaFarooq Naseer, and Hassan Javid
While dynastic politics is often cited as a driver of underdevelopment, there is little evidence to back that claim. This projects studies the relationship between political dynasties and underdevelopment in Pakistan through rigorous data collection dynastic dominance and political competition. It identifies both facts and popular myths surrounding political dynasties, as well what the implications are for making politics more conducive for development.
See publications

Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors
Research Paper | Principal Investigators: Ali Cheema, Asim I. Khwaja, Daron Acemoglu, and James Robinson
Perhaps the most important factor enabling a well-functioning state is a citizenry’s trust in that state. When there is a lack of trust, citizens are unwilling to pay taxes to authorities they perceive as corrupt, thus limiting the ability of the state to deliver services. This project examines trust in state actors in Pakistan’s context. Specifically, it looks at how trust affects the actions of citizens, and whether that trust is determined by the actual or perceived behaviour of the state. See project details

Crime, Policing and State Building
Research Project | Principal Investigators: Ali CheemaSohail Khan, Jacob N. Shapiro, Zulfiqar Hameed, and Shan A. Rana
This research provides evidence to explain recent crime trends in Punjab. It correlates urban population densities to the crime rate and identifies the socioeconomic factors that have been driving crime. Based on this evidence, it lays out strategies to support police investigations, the development of crime mapping tools, crime reduction strategies and reforms in the criminal justice system.
See project details