Socio-political determinants of quality in social services

With Melani Cammett, we explore the determinants of quality in social welfare services. Social welfare services are increasingly being provided by diverse organizations, including religious charities, political parties, and secular NGOs. To explore how this organizational diversity affects quality, we collected original data from the Lebanese primary health care network in collaboration with 13 local research assistants. Questions we ask include: Does the quality vary across organizational types and, if yes, why? Which organizational missions attract more competent professionals? Do the sectarian organizations provide superior quality services to their co-ethnics? Which organizations provide equal or superior quality for most vulnerable groups, such as refugees?

  • “Out-group generosity despite prejudice: Access to social services for Syrian refugees in Lebanon” (with Melani Cammett) – under review
  • “Do in-group members get better services? Diversity and the quality of health care in Lebanon” (with Melani Cammett) – under review
  • “Secular vs. religious advantage in providing quality health care” (with Melani Cammett)
Political organizations and behavior in the Middle East and North Africa

The extensive dataset we collected from the local election candidates in Tunisia’s first democratic local elections in 2018 allows us to answer a number of theoretically interesting questions.

  • “What men want: Politicians’ strategic response to gender quotas in Tunisia’s 2018 municipal elections,” (with Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark) – presented at APSA 2019
  • “Political accountability in new democracies” (with Chantal Berman, Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark) – presented at MPSA 2019 [EGAP pre-analysis plan]
  • “Wings of the dove? Ideological factions and debate within Ennahda, Tunisia’s Islamist party” (with Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark)

With Daniel Ziblatt and Alper Yagci, we explore how voters respond to executive aggrandizement initiatives and why some voters change their institutional preferences based on who might win power.

  • “How do voters respond to assaults to checks and balances? Evidence from a survey experiment in Turkey” (with Alper Yagci and Daniel Ziblatt) – working paper available upon request [EGAP pre-analysis plan]

In a collaborative project (with Sami Atallah of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies and Melani Cammett at Harvard University), I explore the determinants of youth political participation in Lebanon and Tunisia, with a particular focus on social identity. Data collection for this project is ongoing as of November 2019.

Institutional design of local governance

In 2014, Turkey undertook an uneven local governance reform in which the governance structures and processes changed for some villages (in 30 governorates) whereas it remained the same for other villages (51 governorates). We explore how this reform aiming to enhance efficiency of rural infrastructure provision affected various aspects of rural development and electoral politics.

  • “Electoral and governance outcomes of municipalization of rural governance” (with Esra Bakkalbasioglu, Tugba Bozcaga and Evren Aydogan) [EGAP pre-analysis plan]


  • Social Welfare in Developing Countries” (with Melani Cammett), in Oxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism (Tulia Falleti, Orfeo Fioretos and Adam Sheingate, eds.), New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.


  • Who really won Tunisia’s first democratic local elections?” Analysis piece at the Monkey Cage Blog of The Washington Post.
  • “One third of municipal councilors in Tunisia are from independent lists. How independent are they?” Democracy International (with Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark), July 2018. [English] [Arabic]
  • “Generational divide in Tunisia’s 2018 municipal elections: Are youth candidates different?” Democracy International (with Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark), July 2018. [English] [Arabic]
  • “List fillers or future leaders? Female candidates in Tunisia’s 2018 municipal elections.” Democracy International (with Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark), July 2018. [English] [Arabic]
  • “Introducing the Tunisian local election candidate survey (LECS): A new approach to studying local governance.” Democracy International (with Alexandra Blackman and Julia Clark), July 2018. [English] [Arabic]