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Democracy Initiative Lab Launching Public Workshop Series

Sep 10, 2019 |

The Democracy Initiative’s Corruption Laboratory for Ethics, Accountability, and the Rule of Law (CLEAR) is debuting a new speaker series, opening with a lunchtime talk this Thursday, Sept. 12, by one of the lab’s co-directors, Sandip Sukhtankar.

An associate professor in the Department of Economics, Sukhtankar will describe the results of a large-scale randomized experiment in India that introduced stricter identity verification for recipients of the country’s largest welfare program in a talk titled “Authentication Standards and the Tradeoffs in Tackling Corruption.”

Sukhtankar’s topic touches on one of the main categories of research examined by the Democracy Initiative lab: corruption and its links to political and campaign financing; electoral coercion; the historical political economy of democratic institutions; and corruption and the distortion of markets.

“The question of how citizens prove their identity is relevant for a number of scenarios beyond accessing welfare benefits, from obtaining a driver’s license to casting a vote to getting on an airplane,” Sukhtankar said. “We can now provide the first experimental evidence of the tradeoffs involved with regard to reducing fraud versus potentially denying legitimate beneficiaries their rights and benefits.”

The 90-minute workshop is open to all members of the UVA community and will be held at UVA Hotel A, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

In addition to Sukhtankar, the interdisciplinary cohort of faculty leading CLEAR includes Michael Gilbert, Sullivan & Cromwell Professor of Law; Dan Gingerich, associate professor of politics, CLEAR’s co-director and director of the Quantitative Collaborative; Deborah Hellman, Massee & Morgan Professor of Law; David Singerman, assistant professor of history and American studies; Sylvia Tidey, assistant professor of anthropology and global studies. In addition, the lab welcomes incoming faculty Shan Aman-Rana, assistant professor of economics, as well as the following visitors for this academic year: Vineet Kapoor, visiting professor of practice; Jessica Levy, post-doctoral fellow in history; and Jan Vogler, post-doctoral fellow in politics.

Gilbert said the workshop series has two objectives.

“The first is straightforward: providing people who are doing research on corruption an outlet to present their work and get feedback from other scholars. The second purpose is to let the University community know about the interesting work our lab is doing and to give people a chance to learn more about it.”

The second talk in the CLEAR workshop series, to be delivered by Gingerich, is scheduled for Oct. 17.