What are the causes for variations in social welfare policies and development outcomes? What are the causes and consequences of ethnic politics? My research has pivoted around these twin questions about the politics of welfare and development, on the one hand, and ethnic politics, on the other, as also the relationship between the two.

Why despite equivalent socio-demographic, political and economic conditions, have the residents of some places in the world experienced higher levels of well-being, including better education and health, and protection from deadly diseases, than others? I have adopted a self-consciously historically-grounded approach to examine this question across subnational and national units in South, and also increasingly East Asia. In what ways do state institutions influence ethnic politics? Can counting ethnic categories on the census foster ethnic conflict? Can nationalism foster inter-ethnic cooperation? Does ethnic diversity necessarily undermine the provision of public goods? I have used a combination of statistical analyses, survey experiments and case studies, to analyze these questions in diverse empirical settings.

My research as a whole is united by the use of multiple methods and a deliberately transgressive engagement with social science scholarship across disciplinary boundaries to advance novel theoretical frameworks through which to understand social welfare, identity politics, and their interconnections.