Dissertation Project: 

Tentative Title: The Political Economy of Education Reform in Latin America

In recent years, Latin American countries have implemented differing strategies to reform public education. Because most reforms were initiated under the guise of improving the quality of education, scholars have sought to link reforms to educational outcomes, such as gains in learning. However, little research investigates the prior question of what drove these reform efforts in the first place? Without understanding why some countries undertook reforms and others did not, we lack insight into why some reforms succeed while others fail. I argue that two factors generated pressures to reform: party politics, and the diffusion of public policy. To support this inquiry, I create a novel measure of institutional arrangements over public education, and draw on cross-national statistical analysis and an in-depth study of a deviant case. The project contributes to our understanding of the conditions under which key political actors support or hinder education reform initiatives, with implications beyond education research. Only once we have good answers to these questions can we proceed to evaluate when changes in institutions, policy, or spending are related to educational outcomes.

Working Papers (papers by request):   

  • The Need to Reform: Re-Assessing The State of Latin American Education by the 1990s.

  • Democracy, Landed Elites, and Human Capital Formation, with David Samuels.

  • The Non-Redistributive Effects of Constitutional Courts on Educational Outcomes in Latin America.

  • Capital Mobility and Democratization: The Role of the Foreign Elites, with Carly Potz-Nielsen.

  • Human Rights Reports and the Organizations that Produce Them, with Carly Potz-Nielsen and Robert Ralston.

  • Bleeding But Not Leading?: US Political Dynamics and Bias in International Event Data, with Sarah Parkinson and Ben Bagozzi.