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(working titles)

"Political Competition and the Spread of Banking in Türkiye, 1961-2016"

Featured on: WB All About Finance Blog

Working Paper:  Click Here.


The selective opening and timing of public bank branches pose a potential political opportunity, particularly in countries with a presence of public-sector banking. This study delves into this issue, focusing on Türkiye, to examine how political competition influences the allocation of public bank branches. Utilizing a substantial dataset covering 188 banks, 14 nationwide elections, and 81 cities from 1961 to 2016, I employ a difference-in-differences strategy that exploits the greater influence of politics on state-owned banks as compared to their private counterparts. The findings reveal that increased political competition leads to enhanced state-provided financial services. Cities that were won with a narrower margin of victory are more likely to experience a rise in the number of state-owned bank branches in the year preceding elections. By emphasizing the role of providing visible financial services to secure votes in elections, this study adds a political angle to the literature explaining financialization through bank branching.

"The Impact of the Spatial Population Distribution on Economic Growth", with Constantin Burgi (University College Dublin), under review

Working Paper: Click Here (CESifo),  Click Here (CBS).

Data (country-level) can be downloaded from the World Bank's Data Catalog.

We look at the spatial angle of economic growth. Specifically, we assess whether areas where people live closer together experience faster growth. Traditional measures like population density or urbanization are not optimal, as they are affected by large uninhabited areas or capped, respectively. We thus introduce a new measure Spatial Population Concentration (SPC) that captures how many people live on average within a given radius of every person within a geographic area. This measure allows for a more accurate measurement of the population concentration than traditional measures, as it does not share some of their shortcomings. Next, we show for U.S. counties that areas with a high spatial population concentration experience faster growth. We find that counties with a low value of SPC measure in 1990 experienced substantially lower GDP growth over the next 25 years.

"Political Dividends of Digital Participatory Governance: Evidence from Moscow Pothole Management", with G. Sharafutdinova (King's College London) and J. Steinbuks (World Bank), World Bank Policy Research Paper 9445.

Won the 2020 ECA Academy Award, World Bank

Featured on: RBC, Forbes, WB Let's Talk Development Blog

ECA Academy Presentation: Click Here.

Presentation Slides: Click Here.

Abstract:  Click Here.

Policy Research Working Paper 9445:  Click Here.


This study takes advantage of a publicly salient policy sphere – of road quality – in the capital city of Russia to explore the use of digital technologies as means of aggregating information and demonstrating the governmental capacity and effectiveness. It focuses on the potential linkage between the road quality based on citizens’ complaints and the electoral outcomes in two rounds of Moscow mayoral elections in 2013 and 2018. The data of more than 200,000 complaints are collected from two online platforms: and, and combined with local election data. The causal relationship between these two processes is established, making use of an arguably exogenous variation in the differences across local weather conditions during the heating season that differentially affects pothole creation but is uncorrelated with electoral outcomes. The results indicate that greater use of digital technologies (measured by pothole complaints) result in increased number of votes and higher margin of victory for the incumbent. They highlight the role of digital technologies as a tool to create participatory governance mechanisms and convey to the public an image of a transparent, responsive, and capable government.

"Social Distancing and the Economic Impact of COVID-19 in the United States" with Constantin Burgi (University College Dublin)

Abstract:  Click Here.

CESifo Working Paper No.8577: Click Here.

This study documents how the demographics of new infections and mortality changed over time across US counties. We find that counties with a larger population share aged above 60 were hit harder initially in terms of both cases and mortality in March and April while counties with a larger population share aged below 20 were hit harder in June and July. At the same time, how counties that voted Democratic in 2016 are affected does not change over time. Subsequently, we simulate an alternative evolution of the pandemic, assuming that states extended the lockdown measures until daily new cases reach the levels of European countries after their lockdown measures were relaxed. In the baseline simulation, we find that cases and deaths would have increased by around 50% less by the end of June, but it would have led to a 2 percentage point larger drop in Q2 GDP.

"The Role of Overseas Investment & Trade Offices on FDI inflows in the U.S."

Abstract:  Click Here.

In this study, I investigate the role of state overseas investment offices in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across different states. Opening an overseas investment office is one of the most popular strategies for many states to target foreign investment due to the economic benefits that it generates. My preliminary results for the period between 2007-2016 indicate that having an overseas office increases the employment of the U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational enterprises for the state and contributes to its economic development. These findings encourage me to dig deeper into this issue and further investigate the economic impacts of foreign investment and trade offices by verifying the facts and asymmetric benefits arising from foreign investment across different states.

"The First Century of Modern Banking in Istanbul: The Curbing of Economic Interests by Political Power", with Timur Kuran (Duke)

Outline (Presentation):  Click Here.

The establishment and spread of banking play an important role in the expansion of all economies. The goal of this paper is to study the geographic spread of modern banking in Istanbul from 1847 to 1960. The period starts with the founding of Turkey’s first bank, the Banque de Constantinople. Covering the establishment of multiparty democracy in 1946, right after World War II, it ends with the coup that interrupted it. Among the key questions is whether private banks behaved differently from state-owned banks. Another has to do with branching activity within heavily Muslim residential areas. Were local choices driven by population density or by relative wealth? Still, another is whether electoral competition altered bank behavior.

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