UCL Department of Economics


Ruben Poblete Cazenave

Ruben Poblete Cazenave

Ruben PC

Ruben Poblete Cazenave - Website


Research interests

Applied Microeconomics, Political Economy, Economics of Crime, Behavioral Economics.

Paper Title - 'Crime and Punishment: Do Politicians in Power Receive Special Treatment in Courts? Evidence from India'

Abstract - An independent and impartial judicial system is essential for a well-functioning democracy and the economy. However, despite constitutional guarantees, elected
politicians may substantially influence the legal system. This paper studies whether politicians in power get special treatment in courts when facing criminal accusations. I construct a unique panel of criminal cases for candidates for state legislative assemblies in India. I compare the probability of a pending criminal case being closed without conviction at the end of a legislature for politicians who marginally won the election against those who marginally lost it. This paper uncovers opposite effects of winning office, depending on the political alignment with the state ruling party. Winners from the state ruling party are 17 percent more likely to get their pending criminal cases closed without conviction during their period in office. In contrast, winners from other parties are 15 percent less likely to get their pending cases closed without conviction during the same time-frame. The result can be rationalized by the (mis)use of attributions vested on those in power within the executive to manipulate the career of legal officials. I find evidence that non-serious criminal cases are subject to manipulation, whereas serious cases are not.


  • Professor Antonio Cabrales
  • Professor Marcos Vera Hernandez
  • Professor Manuel Bagues