Edgar Franco Vivanco is a PhD candidate in political science. His main research interest is how political economy applies to developing societies. In particular, his research focuses on answering three questions: (i) what is the role of local governance and social cohesion on economic development, (ii) how can governments provide social order and reduce criminal behavior, and (iii) how can societies promote the creation of human capital? His main region of interest is Latin America, particularly Mexico and Brazil. Vivanco holds an MA in educational policy, an MA in public policy from Stanford University, and a BA in economics and political science from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.
The broad goal of my dissertation project is to increase our understanding of why some communities are more capable of solving their collective action dilemmas than others. Focusing on rural Mexico, I explore the long-term development trajectories of communities which experienced higher levels of autonomy and self-governance during the colonial period. This particular project explores the micro foundations of cooperative behavior by implementing a large-scale survey in rural communities. Using geographic discontinuities from historical borders I compare two types of localities: those that experienced self-governance during the colonial period with those that were under Spanish rule. This survey seeks to measure three elements that are theoretically associated with the solution to collective action dilemmas: civic culture, governance practices, and social cohesion. The findings of the survey will help explain how cooperation persists, operates, and re-activates under differing circumstances. Beyond the theoretical relevance of this project, these findings are especially pertinent in light of recent challenges faced by these communities, in particular, the rise of organized crime and the exploitation of mineral resources.