King Center on Global Development
Saad Gulzar was formerly an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University. His research investigates the conditions under which a representative government can improve the lives of its citizens. With a focus on South Asia, his work demonstrates that politics can be made more inclusive and that taking electoral incentives seriously holds the key to making politics work for development.
Gulzar works closely with politicians, political parties, bureaucrats, and government agencies in Pakistan, India, and Nepal. His work has been published in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, and the Journal of the European Economic Association.
He received his PhD in political science at New York University in 2017, where his work received the Best Dissertation Award from American Political Science Association’s Experiments Section.
King Center Supported Research
2020 - 2021 Academic Year | Junior Faculty Research Grant
Sharing Supportive Social Norms for Female Voting in Pakistan
Pakistan has one of the largest gender gaps in voting. In the most recent general elections, women were 9.1 percentage points less likely to turn out to vote. This research explores whether information about the beliefs of peers can help reduce the gender gap in voter turnout. The study involves a household level activity in 50 communities in rural Peshawar. In this intervention, respondents are provided with accurate information about the views of their communities regarding women’s political participation. This design allows researchers to determine whether altering community beliefs changes female voting behavior, whether the beliefs of men or women are the key barrier to female voting turnout, and whether households are more concerned with village or social circle norms. Answers to these questions will inform further work to overcome the gaps in political participation of women that exacerbate their marginal position in many societies.
2019 - 2020 Academic Year | Junior Faculty Research Grant
The Rise of Decentralization in Consolidating Peace: Evidence from Nepal
In 2015, Nepal transformed their political system with the signing of a new Constitution, the culmination of 20 years of conflict and bargaining. The new Constitution designed institutions to redistribute powers to local governments and historically disadvantaged groups. To understand the implications of such a vast institutional transformation, this research aims to collect and analyze data on Nepal’s decentralization process. The project has two objectives; first, to evaluate the efficacy of the newly elected local representatives, and second, to identify the most cost-effective interventions to empower these representatives. Project activities include the collection of qualitative, survey, and administrative data and the testing of pilot interventions aimed at strengthening the functioning of women and historically excluded castes.
2018 - 2019 Academic Year | Junior Faculty Research Grants
Responsive Linkages Between Voters and Politicians in Pakistan - Continuing Data Collection and Extension to Local Government
Integrated voice response technology (IVR) has the potential to improve citizen trust and engagement, boost feelings of political efficacy, and alter voting behavior. With a large-scale field experiment conducted in Pakistan, this project tests whether IVR can be used for two-way communication between politicians and voters, and whether this improves accountability, responsiveness, and development. In the experiment, politicians record messages in their own voices, which are delivered to a random sample of voters via robocalls. Citizens can respond to questions by pressing phone keys, allowing for a two-way exchange of information. The outcomes of this intervention are measured using administrative electoral data, household surveys, and key informant interviews. This research provides insight into how democratic accountability can be improved through increased information provision to politicians and participation by citizens.
Social Spillovers and Female Political Participation in Pakistan
There is a large gap in political participation between men and women throughout the developing world. In particular, Pakistan exhibits some of the largest measurable differences in voting behavior across men and women. This research seeks to test how social networks condition the political participation of males and females in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province of Pakistan. Social differences are examined through a systematic mapping of social networks in peri urban and rural settlements across the province. These geographic blocks are split into randomized treatment groups, with treatment groups receiving organized community meetings to discuss political issues. Outcomes indicate whether creating space for discussions about community issues is sufficient to provoke future political participation. The evidence will inform our understanding of the barriers to female participation, a pivotal area for improving the performance and representativeness of democracy.