Huber, Evelyne, Claire Dunn and John D. Stephens. Forthcoming. "Social Investment and Neoliberal Legacies in Latin America: Breaking the Mold?" in Garritzmann, Julian, Silja Hausserman and Bruno Palier, eds. The World Politics of Social Investment, Volume I. New York:Oxford University Press.


Dunn, Claire and Isabel Laterzo. 2021. "State-level Citizen Responses to COVID-19 Containment Measures in Brazil and Mexico." Journal of Politics in Latin America. 13(3):328-357. DOI:


Dunn, Claire. 2021. "Subnational Politics and Redistribution in a Federal System: Determinants of Social Spending in Brazilian States." Publius: The Journal of Federalism. OnlineFirst. DOI:



Giraudy, Agustina, Jonathan Hartlyn, Claire Dunn and Emily Carty. 2020. "The Impact of Neopatrimonialism on Poverty in Contemporary Latin America." Latin American Politics and Society.62(1): 73-96. DOI:



My dissertation asks under what conditions governments will be more responsive to the interests of lower socioeconomic groups.  While democracy should, in theory, entail the “continued responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals" (Dahl 1971) we know that democracies often privilege the interests of elites over those of other citizens. I argue that governments will be more responsive to the interests of lower socioeconomic groups where left parties are in control, electoral environments are more competitive and civil society is stronger. I take a subnational approach in my dissertation, looking at variation among Brazilian states, and make use of both quantitative and qualitative methods.

My dissertation research has been supported by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant and a visiting fellowship with United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research.

Papers in Preparation

The Effect of Conditional Cash Transfers on Political Participation


This paper analyzes how benefitting from a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program affects broad political participation. Using the LAPOP AmericasBarometer surveys, I implement inverse probability of treatment weighting to compare political participation among citizens who benefit from a CCT program and similar citizens who do not receive such a benefit. I find that CCT beneficiaries participate at higher rates not only in voting, but also in a variety of other types of political participation such as attending municipal meetings. I am currently expanding this project to look more closely at the mechanisms driving this increased participation.

The Impact of Brazilian Municipal Election Rules on Cabinet Composition (with Ted Enamorado and Patrick Cunha Silva)

In this project, we examine the consequences of a change in electoral rules, a shift from first-past-the-post to dual ballot, that occurs when a municipality crosses the threshold of having 200,000 voters. In this paper we are particularly interested in how such a shift impacts cabinet appointments. Specifically, we examine whether this shift in rules changes the types of nominations made by new mayors. Based on the findings that dual-ballot elections result in smaller pre-electoral coalitions compared to first-past-the-post elections, we hypothesize that mayors elected in dual-ballot elections will have fewer commitments to coalition members so will be more able to appoint qualified technocrats to cabinet positions rather than political appointees to satisfy coalition members.  We are in the final stages of collecting a dataset on mayoral appointments in municipalities that fall on either side of the 200,000 voter threshold.