Varieties of Democracy and Democratization

​In collaboration with the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute at the University of Gothenburg, 

I work on projects that develop new approaches and empirical tools for research on the determinants of democratization and democratic stability throughout the world. I also contribute to the production of V-Dem’s award-winning dataset, which is currently the largest publicly available dataset on political regimes in the world. 


"Neopatrimonialism and Democracy: An Empirical Assessment of Africa's Political Regimes" (with Staffan I. Lindberg) forthcoming in ​The Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa.  Link

"Democracy for All: Conceptualizing and Measuring Egalitarian Democracy" (with Staffan I. Lindberg). Forthcoming in Political Science Research and Methods. Link

"Sequencing Revisited: State Capacity Types and Regime Outcomes" (with Steven Lloyd Wilson)

The Politics of State Performance in Africa

In a book manuscript and several related papers, I examine the varying ways that political competition affects the performance of states' bureaucratic and executive institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Book Manuscript: Making Patronage Work


While some view democracy in sub-Saharan Africa as a step towards more effective governance, many others have expressed skepticism about its transformative prospects. At the center of this debate is the question of whether or not political competition constrains leaders from using state offices for political gain. That highly competitive democracies, such as Benin and Ghana, show growing variation in their state’s institutional performance suggests the need to consider not only if, but when and why democracy leads to stronger or weaker states. By reconceptualizing patronage-based selection of state personnel as a means of controlling state resources, rather than simply an electoral strategy, I demonstrate that patronage practices vary according to the ways that political leaders seek to finance their parties and campaigns with state resources. These varying patronage practices affect the ability of state institutions to plan, coordinate and implement development programs.  The argument is supported with data from elite interviews, surveys of civil servants and biographical data on government ministers from Benin and Ghana, as well as cross-national statistical tests on a broader set of "Third Wave" democracies. 

Related Papers

“Which Jobs for Which Boys? Patronage for Political Finance (Under Review)

  • Honorable Mention for African Politics Conference Group Best Graduate Student Paper, 2015.

“Patronage and Productivity: The Varied Effects of Patronage on State Capacity in African Democracies.”

“Continuity and Change in Ghana's Public Service" (with Daniel Appiah and E.K. Sakyi)

​"Bureaucrats and the Resource Curse in Africa" (with Adam Harris, Jan Meyer-Sahling, Kim Sass Mikkelsen and Christian Schuster)

Rachel Sigman

Measuring State Capacity

In collaboration with Jonathan Hanson (University of Michigan), I am working on a project that compiles publicly available data on state capacity and uses Bayesian latent variable methods to construct measures of different types of state capacity. Preliminary measures of state capacity are available by request.


“Leviathan’s Latent Dimensions: Measuring State Capacity for Comparative Political Research” (With Jonathan Hanson). Link

“State Capacity and World Bank Project Success” (With Jonathan Hanson)