Viridiana (Government Ph.D., Harvard University) is an expert in Mexico’s subnational economy, citizen security and rule of law. She (1) analyzes labor markets, productivity, and development indicators at Mexico, and (2) disentangles how violence, conflict, rule of law, and corruption have affected them.

Her career has taken her from positions as public officer and applied researcher, to entrepreneur and journalist. As a public officer, Viridiana has served as adviser to Mexico’s Minister of Finance, and to Mexican President’s Spokesman. As a researcher, she has worked with the Guggenheim Foundation of New York City, the United Nations, USAID, The World Bank, The Center for US-Mexico Studies at the University of California in San Diego, the Trans-border Institute at the University of San Diego, and Mexico’s ministries of social development (SEDESOL), education (SEP), and security (SNSP). In a more entreprenuerial gig, Viridiana directed México ¿Cómo Vamos?, a start-up think tank specialized in translating academic knowledge to the language of policy makers and the press. Finally, as journalist, she has a weekly column at Excélsior, a Mexican national newspaper. 

Her research has been published at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and was awarded 2014’s American Political Science Award to the best doctoral dissertation written in the last two years. She also received Harvard’s Merit Fellowship for Outstanding Research in 2011, was selected as one of the top-12 young experts by NBER’s Working Group of the Economics of Crime in 2012, and profiled at Harvard Gazette as one of the 15 Harvard’s stellar graduates of 2013.

Personal website:

Project website:


Project Summary

Viridiana explores the mechanisms under which violence, criminal activity and lack of rule of law reduce economic activity. Using Mexican subnational areas as her laboratory, she explores how labor productivity, economic growth and employment generation have been affected by changes in conflict intensity, particularly as a result of Mexico's recent escalation in criminal violence. Her goal is to assess whether productivity is reduced the most for firms whose inputs are related to USA markets and for individuals working at the services sector.
Viridiana’s research contributes to unravel the mechanisms under which rule of law impacts economic development in order to be able to define policies targeted towards the geographic or economic sectors that disproportionally bear the cost of violence and conflict.