Ali Cheema

Ali Cheema is a Lead Academic for IGC Pakistan.

Ali Cheema is a co-lead academic of the International Growth Centre’s Pakistan programme. He is an Associate Professor of Economics and Faculty Director of the Mahbub Ul Haq Research Centre at LUMS. He is a co-founder of the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS). He was also a founding member of the Stockholm Challenge Award-winning portal, Relief Information System for Earthquakes, Pakistan (RISEPAK).

His areas of research include economic development with a focus on human capital, inclusion and economic mobility, gender, public economics, political economy and the economics of crime. His research combines extensive mixed-methods fieldwork, historical archival research, rigorous empirical analysis and theory to offer insights into how political economy and institutions shape economic and political development. Part of his recent work focuses on how political and wealth inequality shape accountability and representation, analyzing the barriers to women’s political participation and evaluating the potential of skills and human capital as instruments for inclusive development. He is particularly interested in how local governance and fiscal institutions can be designed to make states more accountable to citizens. He is also interested in understanding the role of citizen-state trust in building effective and accountable state capacities for inclusive development.

He holds a PhD in Economics from Cambridge, an MPhil in Economics and Politics from Cambridge, a BA (Hons.) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a BA in Mathematics and Statistics from Government College, Lahore. He was a visiting Fulbright and SAI Scholar at Harvard Kennedy School in 2010-11.

Content by Ali Cheema
  • Project

    Urban property tax reform in Punjab

    The Punjab Government is considering reforming its property tax valuation system and is analysing the impact of potentially shifting from the ARV-based system of property valuation to a capital value-based valuation system. Specifically, the government requires support in understanding the distributional and revenue consequences of this shift. Amongst the levers of tax...

    4 Jun 2021 | Ali Abbas, Ali Cheema

  • Publication - Project Report

    Smart containment with active learning: Evidence from a data-driven rapid policy response to COVID-19 in Punjab

    29 Jan 2021 | Ahwaz Akhtar, Ali Cheema, Jishnu Das, Adnan Khan, Asim Khwaja, Anum Malkani, Ahmad Mustafa

  • Publication - Project Report

    State capacity in Punjab’s local governments: Benchmarking existing deficits

    As the developing world urbanises, there is increasing pressure to provide local public goods and local governments are expected to play an important role in their provision. However, there is little work on the nature of capacity deficits faced by local governments and whether these deficits are acting as a constraint on performance. We use financial accounts data from...

    25 Aug 2020 | Gharad Bryan, Ali Cheema, Ameera Jamal, Asad Liaqat, Gerard Padró i Miquel

  • Project

    Big push for the rural economy in Pakistan

    Approximately 42% of the labour force is employed in the agricultural sector in Pakistan. In the southern districts of Punjab, around 80% of the population lives in rural areas, 50-70% of whom are employed in the agriculture, livestock, or related sectors. However, years of low productivity and output growth rate have plagued these sectors, threatening the livelihoods of...

    1 Aug 2020 | Muhammad Farooq Naseer, Asim Khwaja, Joshua Gill, Jacob Shapiro, Ali Cheema

  • Project

    Effect of capacity in delivery of urban services

    As the developing world urbanises, there is increasing pressure to provide local public goods that allow people to live in dense communities. In Pakistan, this pressure is exacerbated by the rapid rate of urbanisation - by 2050, the urban share of the population is projected to be 60%. Therefore, a robust local government network is needed for the provision of essential...

    27 Nov 2019 | Gharad Bryan, Gerard Padró i Miquel, Adnan Khan, Ali Cheema

  • Project

    Candidate attributes and political accountability: Evidence from Pakistan local government elections

    Political party-based local elections are widely advocated as key to strengthening democracy, and their outcomes can significantly impact local economic development. A randomised experiment to determine how locals in Punjab, Pakistan, choose to vote found that voters tend to prefer candidates with political connections over those who have proven to be competent,...

    25 Aug 2017 | Jacob Shapiro, Michael Callen, Ali Cheema

  • Blog post

    The role of election competition in strengthening Pakistan’s fledgling local democracy

    Using results and original survey data from the November 2015 local government elections in the Sargodha District of rural Punjab, Pakistan, insights are offered into the institutional and organisational responses that can help strengthen local democracy. These results form part of a larger research project being conducted by the Institute of Development and Economic...

    16 Mar 2017 | Asad Liaqat, Michael Callen, Ali Cheema, Adnan Khan, Muhammad Farooq Naseer, Jacob Shapiro

  • Project

    Development of Punjab Growth Strategy 2018

    Punjab has been suffering from low rates of economic growth for the past few years The province needs to grow rapidly to provide enough jobs for its increasing labour force The Chief Minister asked the IGC to help develop a growth strategy for the province The strategy has now been adopted by the Government as its official Growth...

    19 Jan 2015 | Ijaz Nabi, Naved Hamid, Ali Cheema, Syed Turab Hussain, Ali Hasanain, Azam Chaudhry, Nazish Afraz, Anjum Nasim, Muhammad Farooq Naseer, Zeba Sathar, Sohaib Athar, Hina Shaikh

  • Project

    Skills, return to household and poverty reduction

    The Government of Punjab, Pakistan and DFID have launched a collaborative development programme, Punjab Economic Opportunities Programme (PEOP), for four economically marginalized districts in Southern Punjab: Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Lodhran and Muzaffargarh. The PEOP will focus on the provision of marketable skills and interventions related to the livestock and dairy...

    18 Nov 2014 | Ali Cheema, Muhammad Farooq Naseer

  • Project

    Breaking the countercyclical pattern of local democracy in Pakistan

    The history of Pakistan shows a paradoxically countercyclical pattern for local democracy. Three times in the history of Pakistan, elected institutions of local democracy have been created by military regimes, and each time the subsequent civilian governments have either failed to revive elected local governments or replaced them with unelected administrators. In the latest...

    18 Nov 2014 | Ali Cheema, Roger Myerson

  • Project

    The Political Economy of Public Sector Reform, Evidence from Teacher Hiring in Pakistan

    Good governance and effective policy are essential for sustained economic growth. Pakistan and other countries are struggling to transition from patron-client political systems, where politicians win office by providing targeted benefits to supporters at the expense of broader collective benefits, to performance-based systems. Many potential transparency-promoting public...

    4 Sep 2014 | Ali Cheema, Zubiar Bhatti, Jacob Shapiro

  • Publication - Working Paper

    Breaking the Countercyclical Pattern of Local Democracy in Pakistan (Working Paper)

    1 May 2010 | Ali Cheema, Adnan Khan, Roger Myerson