“Analyzing the Potential of Community Water Systems—The Case of AguaClara.” With Karim Beers, Mildred Warner, and Monroe Weber-Shirk. Water Policy. Vol. 16, 2014, pp. 557-577. 

Abstract: Successful maintenance of water provision has as much to do with the ongoing governance of these systems as the technology that goes into building them. This governance generally occurs at the community level. Most water systems are small, and located in areas where there generally is not the profitability necessary to entice private investment. Understanding how community management can improve is therefore essential to solving water provision problems around the world. This paper develops a three part framework for analyzing water projects through a focus on technology, management and governance. The framework draws on research on collective action and various forms of capital as they relate to technology (natural and physical capital), management (financial and human capital) and governance (social and political capital). We then demonstrate the usefulness of the framework by studying AguaClara, a program that has helped seven Honduran communities build eight water treatment plants and set up functioning systems of governance.

“Decentralization, Community Participation, and Improvement of Water Access in Mexico.” Community Development. Vol. 45, No. 1, 2014, pp. 2-16.

Abstract: One of the most important responses to the decentralization process around the developing world over recent decades has been the call for community-based and participatory-based approaches to planning at the local level. Unfortunately, the results of these programs have often been disappointing, leading some scholars to call for more in-depth exploration of whether community participation can improve prospects for development. This paper explores the somewhat remarkable improvement in individuals’ access to water in a low income, indigenous community in one of the poorest states of Mexico, Oaxaca. The case study compares the community to others in Oaxaca and finds that the main distinguishing characteristic of the community is its history of collective action. The results suggest that the community’s progress in the decentralized period is due to this advantage.

“Ethnolinguistic Divisions and Access to Clean Water in Mexico.” Latin American Research Review. Vol. 49, No. 2, 2014, pp. 129-151.

Abstract: The existing literature relating ethnic fragmentation to public good provision sheds little light on inequalities in access to public goods across groups, despite the fact that some of the causal factors underlying the hypothesized relationship seem to predict such inequalities. This article seeks to fill this gap by examining the relationship between ethnic fragmentation and both the level and distribution of access to clean water in Mexico, using regression analysis at both the municipal and individual levels for the period 2000–2005. Using the divide between indigenous and nonindigenous people to measure ethnic fragmentation, the results first replicate the general finding in the literature: more fragmented municipalities have worse access to clean water, all else being equal. However, this worse access is not equally distributed. Instead, there is a systematic gap in water access between indigenous and nonindigenous people, even after controlling for fragmentation and other relevant factors. The findings have important implications for future research regarding ethnic fragmentation and public good provision.

“Why Do Indigenous Municipalities in Mexico Have Worse Piped Water Coverage?” Development in Practice. Vol. 22, No. 1, 2012, pp. 31-43.

Abstract: Access to piped water is highly unequal in Mexico, and indigenous municipalities are particularly disadvantaged. This paper identifies the different factors that contribute to the unequal access to piped water across Mexican municipalities for the period of 2000-2005, using regression analysis. The findings show that indigenous populations experience lower piped water coverage even when one accounts for population density (the main explanation that the government provides for indigenous populations’ lack of progress) and other relevant factors. I also show that one of the reasons for this lack of progress is that indigenous municipalities receive fewer per capita transfers from the central government, all else equal.

“Trade Openness, Infrastructure, and the Wellbeing of Mexico’s South.” Mexican Studies. Vol. 27, No. 2, Summer 2011, pp. 407-429.

Abstract: This paper examines the effects of Mexican infrastructure and trade policy from 1940 to 2000 on the relative economic performance of its southern states of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. Building on the literature of economic geography, I develop an argument based on the importance of infrastructure in economic development, and discuss how the legacy of infrastructure policies that have excluded the south can explain both the south’s overall performance and its particularly poor performance in the period of trade openness. Accessing international markets lowers the average costs of large infrastructure investments, thereby increasing the advantage of states that have received these investments. I support this argument by analyzing the industrial evolution of Mexican states, showing not only that states have predictably concentrated in infrastructure intensive industries if they have such infrastructure (and vice versa), but also that those infrastructure-intensive industries have outperformed other industries in the period of trade openness.

“The Effects of Trade Openness on Regional Inequality in Mexico.” The Annals of Regional Science. Vol. 41. No. 3, September 2007, pp. 545-561.

Abstract: This paper attempts to shed light on the debate about the effect of trade openness on regional inequality, by exploring the specific mechanisms through which this relationship might operate. It does so by testing the hypothesis, based on endogenous growth theory, that a region’s ability to capture the benefits of trade openness depends on key regional characteristics—its critical endowments—and therefore the degree to which trade will reduce regional inequality in a given country is mediated by the geographic distribution of its endowments. I test the hypothesis in Mexico, using statistical analysis of an original sub-national dataset that runs from 1940 to the present. The results indicate that opening up to trade benefits more those regions with lower levels of education, thereby tending to reduce regional inequality. However, opening up to trade also benefits more those regions with higher levels of income and infrastructure, thereby tending to increase regional inequality. This latter effect is greater than the former, so that the overall effect of trade openness is to increase regional inequality.