RESEARCH

My research interests include comparative politics, comparative political economy, comparative capitalism, institutions, electoral competition, political parties, state-business relationship, climate change policy, energy policy, environmental policy and long-term policy.

My Google Scholar profile can be found here.

Ph.D. Thesis

Title: “Low carbon for the long term: The comparative political economy of climate policy investment”

Abstract: Why do some countries do much to address long-term problems like climate change while others do little? This thesis offers a novel theoretical account of the political drivers of long-term climate policy investments across high-income democracies. It argues that political institutions and electoral incentives are key and systematically structure the ability of governments to adopt low-carbon policies that translate short-term costs into long-term benefits. It fills a large gap in the comparative politics literature, which has paid little attention to the looming problem of climate change.

Ph.D. Papers

“Changing Prices in a Changing Climate: Electoral Competitiveness and Fossil Fuel Taxation” (Available here)

For over 40 years, economists have advocated carbon taxes as the most efficient policy for addressing climate change. However, not all governments have increased the price of fossil fuels. When do politicians decide to increase consumer prices? This paper highlights the role of electoral competitiveness. I argue that carbon tax increases are most likely when competitiveness is low and politicians are insulated from voter punishment. Moreover, this effect depends on the personal costs that tax increases impose on voters. If a good is not widely consumed, politicians can tax it more easily, even when competition is high. I test this explanation using a unique dataset on gasoline taxes and new data on electoral competitiveness across advanced democracies between 1978 and 2014. The results are consistent with the theory. In addition, a case study of eco-tax reform in Germany across two sequential electoral periods demonstrates how changes in the electoral fortunes of the Social Democratic-Green coalition generated changes in fossil fuel tax policy. This analysis points to a crucial mechanism that plausibly accounts for the differential ability of governments to tackle a wider range of long-term policy challenges.

“Climate Change, Consensus and the Institutional Foundations of Long-term Policymaking”

Many policy problems require taking costly action today for future benefits. Are some types of democracies systematically better able to address long-term problems? This paper argues yes. It builds on research that suggests three necessary conditions for long-term policy investment: electoral safety, expectations of future benefits and the ability to overcome opposition from organized groups. In consensus democracies, the complementarity between proportional electoral rules, strong legislative committees and corporatism increases the likelihood that such necessary conditions will be present. The opposite is the case in majoritarian democracies, where the joint presence of plurality electoral rules, weak committees and interest group pluralism make such an outcome less likely. The arguments are explored in the context of climate change mitigation policy using new data on shadow carbon prices. The evidence supports the arguments. Consensus democracies have higher overall climate policy stringency, as well as higher stringency for households and industry. Moreover, these democracies allocate higher short-term costs toward voters and away from industry. I argue that this distributive bargain is facilitated by institutional complementarities and enables governments to reach stable, credible and politically feasible long-term climate policy investment.

“Long-term Trends in Energy Taxation in US States”

What are the political drivers of energy taxation over the long-term? This paper analyzes a unique dataset of energy tax rates in US states since their first adoption in 1919.