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Postdoctoral Fellow | Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Brandon de la Cuesta

Affiliated Researcher
King Center on Global Development

Postdoctoral Fellow
Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Postdoctoral Fellow | 2019–2021
King Center on Global Development

Brandon de la Cuesta is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence Lab (SustainLab). De la Cuesta received his PhD in politics from Princeton University in 2019. He specializes in comparative political economy, causal inference, and experimental research design with a strong regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. De la Cuesta studies clientelism and electoral accountability in weak states using a mixed-methods approach that combines observational data with lab-in-the-field, survey and conjoint experiments.

work, Entrepreneurship, and finance
Innovations in Methods and Data
Government and Institutions




King Center Supported Research

2022 - 2023 Academic Year | Global Development Research Funding

Rethinking the African Growth Narrative: Using Machine Learning to Study Development in Africa

Recent work in the political economy of development has attempted to move away from a reliance on measures collected by central governments by utilizing nighttime luminosity data captured by high-orbit satellites. Yet this data is poorly suited to measuring development in Africa, where many settled areas generate no nighttime luminosity. Many seminal contributions rely on the nightlights data and are therefore likely to be affected by this problem. Using new data generated by training a convolutional neural network to predict village-level livelihood data using daytime images, we propose to revise core descriptive and model-based results about African growth outcomes.