Juan Felipe Riaño

Assistant Professor
Georgetown University

Contact information:
: jr2009@georgetown.edu
Phone: +1 (202) 855-2018
Address: 37th St NW & O St NW
Washington, DC · 20057 · USA
Scholar · IDEAS · · ·


I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Georgetown University.

Before joining Georgetown, I was a Postdoctoral fellow at the King Center on Global Development at Stanford University. I hold a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of British Columbia and MA, BA and B.Sc degrees in economics and industrial engineering from Universidad de los Andes.

My research interests span the fields of Political Economy, Development Economics and Economic History.

You can find my curriculum vitae, here.

Working Papers

• "Bureaucratic Nepotism"
      Abstract · Paper

Featured in
This paper provides the first systematic empirical examination of bureaucratic nepotism and anti-nepotism legislation in an entire modern bureaucracy. By linking confidential information on family ties and administrative employer-employee records for the universe of civil servants in Colombia, I uncover three sets of empirical findings. First, using a novel methodology of family network reconstruction, I provide evidence on the pervasiveness of close family connections in the public administration and demonstrate its negative relationship with the performance of public sector agencies. Second, by further exploiting within-bureaucrat variation in family connections generated by the turnover of top non-elected bureaucrats, I show that family connections to public sector managers and advisors distort the allocation and compensation of workers at lower levels of the hierarchy. Connected bureaucrats receive higher salaries and are more likely to be hierarchically promoted but are negatively selected in terms of public sector experience, education, and records of misconduct. Third, I evaluate an anti-nepotism legislation reform by exploiting a sharp discontinuity in the set of family connections restricted by this law. I prove the limited effectiveness of this reform and show how bureaucrats strategically responded to this policy change by substituting margins of favoritism and reshuffling posts within the public administration.

Selected for the 1st LACEA Job Market Showcase

• "Collateral Damage: The Legacy of the Secret War in Laos"
with Felipe Valencia Caicedo
Revised & Resubmitted at The Economic Journal.
      Abstract · Paper


• "Political Competition and State Capacity"
with Leopoldo Fergusson & Horacio Larreguy
The Economic Journal, 132(648), 2815-2834. The Royal Economic Society and Oxford University Press, 2022.
      Abstract · Paper · Journal

• "Conflict, Educational Attainment, and Structural Transformation"
with Leopoldo Fergusson & Ana Maria Ibañez,
Economic Development and Cultural Change 69(1), 335-371. The University of Chicago Press, 2020.
      Abstract · Paper · Journal

• "The Legacies of War for Post-Conflict Ukraine"
with Ellen Munroe, Anastasiia Nosach, Moieses Pedrozo, Eleonora Guarnieri, Ana Tur-Prats & Felipe Valencia-Caicedo
Economic Policy. Oxford Academic, 2023.
      Abstract · Paper · Journal

• "Media, Secret Ballot and the Process of Democratization in the United States"
with Leopoldo Fergusson & BK Song
Accepted at the Journal of Historical Political Economy.
      Abstract · Paper

• "Consumers as VAT Evaders: Incidence, Social Bias, and Correlates in Colombia"
with Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos Molina,
Economía Journal   19(2), 21-67. Brookings Institution Press, 2019.
      Abstract · Paper · Journal

• "I Sell My Vote, and So What? Incidence, Social Bias, and Correlates of Clientelism in Colombia"
with Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos Molina,
Economía Journal   19(1), 181-218. Brookings Institution Press, 2018.
      Abstract · Paper · Journal

Work in Progress

• "Insider-Initiated Corporate Philanthropy: An Empirical Assessment of the Friedman Hypothesis"
with Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini, Raymond Fisman, Francesco Trebbi, June 2020

• "Social Dissent, Coercive Capacity, and Redistribution: Evidence from Authoritarian Mexico"
with Horacio Larreguy & Mariano Sánchez Talanquer
      Abstract · First Draft

• "The Roots of Violence and Racism in the US: Historical Lynchings and Today's Police Brutality"
with Thorsten Rogall, September 2021

• "Low Entrepreneurial Intent: A Legacy of South Africa's Mining Monopsony"
with Neil Lloyd, July 2020

• "Digging for Votes: Electoral effects of disclosing illegal mining"
with Santiago Saavedra, March 2023

• "Decolonizing the State: Evidence from the Tanzanian Civil Service, 1956-76"
with Jeremy Bowles, Sep 2023


Professor Francesco Trebbi (Committee Chair), Professor Siwan Anderson, Professor Matilde Bombardini, and Professor Patrick Francois.

Reading groups and Seminars

I'm a founding member of the Culture and Persistence Group at the VSE.


Georgetown University (Washington, DC, USA)

ECON 4487 - Empirical Applications in Political Economy, Undergraduate Level

University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

ECON 544 - Political Economy, Institutions, and Business, Graduate Level
ECON 541 - Economic Development, Graduate Level
ECON 326 - Methods of Empirical Research in Economics, Undergraduate Level
ECON 325 - Introduction to Empirical Economics, Undergraduate Level

Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá DC, Colombia)

ECON 4651 - Empirical Applications in Political Economy, Graduate Level
ECON 4212 - Advanced Macroeconomics Business Cycles, Graduate Level
IIND 2401 - Engineering Economics, Undergraduate Level
ECON 2105 - Game Theory, Undergraduate Level
ISIS 1207 - Java Programming, Undergraduate Level
MATE 2711 -Mathematical Methods for Economists, Undergraduate Level

© Juan Felipe Riaño, 2021