Rachel Sigman

​​I am Assistant Professor of Democratic Governance at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. I am also a project manager with the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project based at the University of Gothenburg. 


I conduct research on government performance in Africa and beyond. Why do some governments serve their populations better than others? How does variation in government performance impact democracy? What are the relationships between different governing actors -- politicians, bureaucrats, and security forces -- that generate better public policy outcomes? 

My first book, Parties, Political Finance, and Governance in Africa (Cambridge University Press 2023), explores the relationship between party financing and state politicization in Africa. My current book project examines bureaucratic responses to democratic backsliding and its impacts on public attitudes toward government. I have also worked on projects related to the measurement of state capacity and exclusion, the effects of oil revenue on bureaucratic institutions, the relationship between distributional inequality and autocratization, and civil-military relations (including military coups) in Africa.


My research is published or forthcoming in The Journal of Politics, Comparative Political StudiesWorld Development, ​Governance, The Journal of Development Studies, The Journal of Global Security Studies, Political Science Research and Methods, and Development Policy Review. My work has been funded by The British Academy/Department for International Development, The World Bank, The German Development Institute, The V-Dem Institute, The Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and U.S. Africa Command. I have conducted field research in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, and Senegal.