Main Publications

From Drug Lords to Police State: The Effects of Order Transition on Local Economies
Leonardo Gentil-Fernandes, João V. Guedes-Neto, and Jose Incio
(Forthcoming at Comparative Political Studies)

What is the effect on local economies when the state intervenes to capture its own territories back from non-state actors? In 2008, the government of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil implemented a policy to take control of favelas that were previously dominated by criminal organizations. We use day and night luminosity to assess the effects of this program on economic growth. The difference-in-differences design shows that state intervention has a significant and negative average treatment effect on the favelas that received the intervention. We further test a mechanism to explain this economic downturn: institutional replacement. Based on crime data, we demonstrate that this effect is caused by the destruction of local markets, especially illicit activities. The data highlight the perils of order transition, even when OCGs are removed by state actors. Furthermore, this paper reinforces the need for policies that are mindful of the externalities of institutional shifts.

UPP in Morro do Turano (2010). Fonte: André Teixeira/O Globo.

Working, Shirking, and Sabotage in Times of Democratic Backsliding: An Experimental Study in Brazil
João V. Guedes-Neto and B. Guy Peters
(In: Bauer et al. (Eds.). Democratic Backsliding, Populism and Public Administration: How Populists in Government Transform State Bureaucracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021)

In times of democratic backsliding and electorally successful populist leaders, it becomes relevant to identify which actors could function as gatekeepers of institutional changes. Would civil servants be willing to act as veto players by refusing to implement policies that undermine democratic institutions? We answer this question based on a set of survey experiments conducted with Brazilian bureaucrats. Using the triad “working, shirking, and sabotage” (Brehm and Gates 1999), our results confirm that civil servants intend to shirk and sabotage if assigned to implement policies that are perceived to restrict democratic rights, as the freedoms of press and expression. Furthermore, we demonstrate how different individual characteristics affect the bureaucrats’ intention to behave in these situations.

Jair Bolsonaro and supporters in 2020. Fonte: Dida Sampaio/Estadão.