Nita Rudra is a Professor of Government at Georgetown University. Her research interests include the politics of globalization, trade, foreign investment, development, democracy, inequality, taxation and redistribution. Her work appears in the British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, American Journal of Political Science, and Comparative Political Studies, International Organization and International Studies Quarterly. Her most recent Cambridge University Press book (coauthored with Ida Bastiaens ) is entitled: Democracies in Peril. She has been a past recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Foundation Academic Fellowship, and the International Affairs Fellowship by the Council on Foreign Relations.

Project Summary

Politicians go to great lengths to court foreign direct investment (FDI) and advertise its benefits to voters, especially in terms of poverty reduction and job creation. Recent scholarship finds that FDI provides significant political payoffs to incumbents. This analysis questions if (and why) FDI brings politicians political payoffs from marginalized populations, and informal sector workers in particular. The hypothesis is that informal workers may reward politicians more so than formal workers because they expect FDI to serve as a form of social insurance. Since the former are more income-constrained, face higher levels of risk, and have low education levels, they likely discount the immediate benefits of FDI because of the higher barriers to employment in foreign firms (due to higher skill demands). At the same time, however, they have limited protections against old age poverty, and may associate the presence of foreign firms- relative to domestic ones- with greater job opportunities, higher wages and upward mobility for their children. Unlike formal workers, informal workers rely solely on family/children’s support in old age; the prospect of future income security may then likely be the mechanism that drives their support for politicians that bring in FDI. A conjoint experiment in India during national election time summer of 2019 will be employed to test the proposed hypotheses.

Major Publications

  • Donno, Daniela and Nita Rudra. "David and Goliath? Small Developing Countries, Large Emerging Markets and South South Trade Agreements."
  • International Studies Quarterly (forthcoming)
  • Rudra, Nita, Meir Alkon and Siddharth Joshi. "FDI, Poverty and the Politics of Potable Water Access." Economics and Politics (2018).
  • Nooruddin, Irfan and Nita Rudra. "Are Developing Countries Really Defying the Embedded Liberalism Hypothesis?" World Politics 66(4): 603-640 (2014).