Political Science


Rehan's dissertation explores the political origins and citizenship impacts of Pakistan's largest social safety net: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), one of the largest cash transfer programs targeted exclusively at women in the Global South. Rehan is the recipient of the USIP Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar pre-doctoral fellowship. He was a visiting researcher at the Collective for Social Science Research in Pakistan in 2018-19. Rehan's research has also been supported by the Brown Global Mobility fellowship, the Watson Institute's Graduate Program in Development, the Center for Contemporary South Asia, Pembroke Center, and the Association for Pakistan Studies. Rehan has a Masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in History and Politics with High Honors from Oberlin College.

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Being Seen by the State: Cash Transfers and Women's Political Participation in Pakistan


What are the effects of receiving cash transfers on marginalized citizens' political behavior in new democracies, where state-citizen linkages are weak? Can cash transfers targeted exclusively at women increase their political participation in settings where gender gaps in participation are high? This paper addresses these questions by analyzing the political effects of one of the largest unconditional cash transfer (UCT) programs targeted at women in the Global South: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The paper presents findings from an original household survey of 2254 respondents, which uses a regression discontinuity design to analyze the political behavior of program recipients and non-recipients close to the eligibility cutoff. The paper find’s evidence that receipt of the BISP UCT increased recipients voting but did not result in long-term electoral returns for the benefit-giving party. Moving beyond voting measures, the program reduced recipients' reliance on political brokers and governance intermediaries, such as landlords (zamindars) and traditional village governance (panchayats). However, this reduced dependence on traditional intermediaries has not resulted in female welfare recipients' increased engagement with the local state or political parties, pointing to other structural barriers that constrain women's political participation.