Syeda Shahbano Ijaz
I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Political Science department at the University of California-San Diego. In the 2021-22 academic year, I will be a Dissertation Fellow with the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and an Oceanids Memorial Fellow. In recognition of my contributions to diversity in academia, I have been selected to serve as a Bouchet Scholar and have also received a Doctoral Diversity Intitiative Writing Grant by the University of California.
I am a scholar of the comparative political economy of development with a specific focus on the strategic distributive politics of foreign aid delivery in Pakistan. My dissertation research challenges the conventional wisdom that foreign aid undermines democratic development by drawing attention to a seemingly marginal but politically consequential process of “last-mile access” provision. Last-mile access is a collection of strategies to overcome the bureaucratic and physical barriers that stand in the way for individual recipients to move beyond eligibility and obtain the benefits of foreign aid programs. I argue that the presence of high access hurdles in the form of bureaucratic costs and low physical mobility carve a significant role for local politicians in aid economies. Additionally, the salience of access for poor voters means that they demand it from their representatives, allowing a localized form of accountability to emerge around access provision. I study this political exchange using a combination of survey experiments fielded to voters in Pakistan and qualitative interviews conducted with Pakistani political elites.
Before joining UCSD, I completed an M.A. in Politics from New York University and an M.Sc. in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford.