Research

An interest in political economy of development and quantitative methods motivates my work. My research agenda encompasses the topics of provision of public goods, corruption, violence, and political behavior. My area of expertise is Latin America and my work has a special focus on Colombia. I expand on each of these topics below.

Provision of Public Goods

In my dissertation, titled “The Political Economy of Provision of Public Goods in Contexts of Violence”, I analyze the determinants of public goods provisioning in contexts affected by political violence. Civil wars entail risks to life, property, and investment that are expected to deter the private sector from participating in the provision of public goods. However, regions of endemic violence are frequently not simply free of all order, public goods are provided amidst conflict, and the private sector plays an important role in such provision. I argue that areas controlled by paramilitaries (right-wing illegal armed groups) can increase private provision of public goods through a symbiotic relationship with politicians. On one hand, politicians seeking reelection have an incentive to reach out to paramilitaries for the latter to provide security, coerce constituents or intimidate electoral opponents so that the former remain in office. On the other hand, paramilitaries form alliances with politicians motivated by taking over state institutions to manipulate procurement in their regions of domain and gain impunity when indicted for their crimes. These alliances lead to the solidification of paramilitary structures using the veil of legitimacy of state institutions and private resources to provide public goods.

Indeed, my empirical analysis shows that paramilitary takeover of seats in Congress is positively associated with private provisioning of roads through public-private partnerships (PPPs), increasing PPPs by up to 40%. My analysis is based on a new and detailed data set that I compiled on 25 years of road building in Colombia. My findings hold when using alternative measures of paramilitary cooptation and private provisioning, as well as different control variables and fixed effects at the municipality, year, and national government level to account for unobservables.

My dissertation also analyzes the impact of transparency and pork-barreling on contracts involving private providers. PPPs are long-term contracts between actors with frequently divergent interests are complex. Their complexity requires an upfront, clear, and transparent risk management. Indeed, legislative progress has been made across the globe to improve risk management in PPPs with the purpose of increasing the success of public-good provision via this form of provision. However, I argue that transparency in risk allocation is not enough to guarantee the execution of a contract as originally negotiated and structured. When PPP projects are susceptible to being strategically used by incumbents for pork-barreling, legislative efforts to strengthen PPPs via transparency become less effective.

For this analysis, I compiled a new data set on the universe of PPP contracts in Colombia and I performed a survival analysis on the probability of these contracts to be renegotiated. My empirical analysis finds that transparency affects PPPs positively by reducing the probability of these contracts being renegotiated between 39 and 77 per cent. But when PPP contracts are used for pork-barreling, the benefits of transparency in risk allocation are neutralized. Pork-barreling makes PPP contracts up to seven times more likely to be renegotiated and therefore more prone to cost overrun and extended provision deadlines.

This dissertation offers important contributions as it aims to bridge the political science and public policy literatures to understand the interactions between the public and private sectors in public goods provisioning, as well as the impact of these interactions on social welfare. Specifically, it highlights the fact that despite the many risks associated with violence, public goods are still provided in these contexts. This dissertation speaks to the challenges of providing public goods in contexts of violence. It highlights the importance of recognizing subnational variation in patterns of provision as a function of political interests, and offers valuable insights into how these dynamics affect equality in provision and access to public goods. My findings also underscore the relevance of civilian oversight to processes of public good provision, monitoring public spending, and increasing transparency to guarantee that perverse incentives do not trump existing legislative frameworks aiming at successful provision and social surplus.

In another aspect of my work on the political economy of public goods provision, I focus on the political costs of PPPs (Angulo, Bertelli, and Woodhouse, 2020). PPPs have great potential as tools for pork-barreling. How- ever, the paper argues that constituents’ negative experiences with PPPs induce a sociotropic turn in individual voting, reducing the efficiency of pork-barrelling via these projects. The findings support this argument, showing that there is a twelve percentage points decrease in the vote intention for the incumbent executive and his party in electoral districts with greatest experience with PPPs. To reach this conclusion, the paper analyzes over 100 PPPs in Colombia between 1998 and 2014, and 8,700 individual survey responses from the Latin America Public Opinion Project (LAPOP). This paper introduces an important research agenda on the impact and legacies of New Public Management in developing countries.

Corruption

A second distinct research agenda in my work focuses on corruption. One of the papers in this project analyzes the micro- and macro-foundations of perceptions of corruption in Latin America (Angulo Amaya, MC. Working Paper. “Estimating Corruption: Reality Checks and Factual Beliefs.”). In this paper I argue that being a victim of corruption does not shape perceptions of corruption. I test my argument using hierarchical and OLS models to analyze contextual data and over 160,000 survey responses from citizens across Latin America on their experiences with corruption. The results support my argument, showing that being a victim of corruption (being asked to pay a bribe) does not affect perceptions of corruption. This paper contributes to the literature in corruption and political psychology by providing an explanation as to why there is variation on how people perceive corruption despite their limited experiences with bribery. It also offers important methodological contributions to the area of public opinion by offering recommendations on how to improve survey tools to capture perceptions of corruption and experiences with this phenomenon.

Violence

Violence constitutes a third distinct research agenda in my work. One paper in this agenda analyzes the impact of territorial autonomy in the protection of indigenous communities in countries ravaged by civil war (Angulo Amaya and Littlefield, N. Working Paper. “Institutions vs. Territory: Examining Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Colombia’s Resguardos.”). Here, the argument is that territorial autonomy does not deter violence against indigenous people. Instead, this autonomy isolates native communities from state institutions, increasing the probability of armed actors targeting indigenous people within autonomous territories. The preliminary analysis suggests that indigenous territorial autonomy increases the number of indigenous victims in the conflict within these territories, even when controlling for indigenous population density. The analysis uses data on the Colombian conflict, the geographical distribution of autonomous indigenous territories, presence of military bases, drug trafficking, and fiscal disbursement to indigenous communities to explore the impact of territorial autonomy vis-a`-vis alternative explanations

In a joint work with Andres Mauricio Ortiz and Sebastian Pantoja (Angulo Amaya, M.C., A. Ortiz, and S. Pantoja, 2014), we analyze Colombians perceptions on the peace process with the FARC and postconflict from a gender perspective. Analyzing data from LAPOP via OLS regressions, we explore Colombians’ approval of the peace process, their attitudes towards forgiveness and reconciliation with demobilized FARC members, and whether they approved ex-combatants’ political participation. Our results show that there are no significant differences between men and women regarding their support for the peace process. However, women tend to be more skeptical regarding the definitive demobilization of ex-combatants, reconciliation with former FARC militants, and they tend to disapprove to a greater extent the political participation of ex-combatants. This paper offers important contributions for theory and public policy, as it highlights the existence gender-based differences in perceptions on postconflict and the challenges that must be addressed from a gender-based perspective to achieve a successful reincorporation of ex-combatants into civil life.

Political Behavior

Lastly, in one of my research papers (Angulo Amaya, MC., 2016) I analyze the relationship between electoral behavior and party preference in electoral systems where programmatic voting is weak. The literature on political behavior suggests that party preference determines constituents’ voting intention. However, electoral behavior may determine party preferences in contexts where political parties lack discipline and programmatic platforms. Using survey panel data on the 2011 local elections in Bogota (Colombia), I analyze the statistical strength of association between partisanship and vote intention before and after the 2011 elections and I perform a qualitative analysis on different voter profiles and electoral scenarios. My analysis suggests that in political systems where political parties have little discipline, programmatic voting is not decisive in elections, which is why one is more likely to find a stronger connection between voting decision and party preference. In other words, partisanship in this context is not strong and the evidence suggests that constituents’ form their party preferences according to their electoral behavior.


Grants and Awards

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, University Fellowship (2016, 2019).
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Graduate School Student Research Grants Competition-Conference Presentation (2019).
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Political Science Summer Funding Initiative (2017, 2019, 2020).
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison LACIS-Tinker Foundation Fieldwork Grant (2017).
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stanoch Research Award (2016).

Publications

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Angulo Amaya, M.C., Anthony Bertelli, and Eleanor Woodhouse. 2020. The Political Cost of Public-Private Partnerships: Theory and Evidence from Colombian Infrastructure Development. Governance, 1-18.

Angulo, M. 2016. Voting Intention and Party Preference in Bogota. Colombia Internacional, 86 (Jan-April): 81-106.

Other Publications

Angulo, M., A. Ortiz, and S. Pantoja. 2014. Analysis from a Gender Perspective of the Perceptions of Colombians on the Peace Process and Post-conflict. Colombia Internacional, 80 (Jan-April): 220-233.

Angulo, M., and S. Pantoja. 2014. Why do Colombians Protest? Determinants of Participation in Public Manifestations in Colombia. Sextante 3 (March): 12-3.

Angulo, M., and S. Pantoja. 2014. Perceptions of Corruption Among Public Opinion: Between Governmental Trust and Media Exposure. Revista Económica Supuestos, 10 (April).

Angulo, M. 2014. The Rector’s Dilemma. In Angulo, M., J. Escobar, M. Ruiz, D. Huertas, and Y. Muvdi. 2014. The Rector’s Dilemma. Students documents Series, 2014 -01.

Angulo, M. 2014. Coexistence in Post-conflict. Boletín DePolítica, 198 (October).

Angulo, M. 2014. Establishing Truth in the Ongoing Peace Process. Boletín De-Política, 158 (April).

Angulo, M. 2012. Empowerment and Belonging. Project on empowerment and the right to the city, directed by Amy E. Ritterbusch, Universidad de los Andes.

In-Progress

Angulo Amaya, M.C. “When Pork-Barreling Trumps Transparency: A Survival Analysis of Public-Private Partnership Contracts.”

Angulo Amaya, M.C. “Estimating Corruption: Reality Checks and Factual Beliefs.”

Angulo Amaya, M. and Ned Littlefield. “Institutions vs. Territory? Examining Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Colombia’s Resguardos.”

Angulo Amaya, MC. and Edward Littlefield. “State Legitimacy and Political Violence: Understanding Nationalism in Colombia.”