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.

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.



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

Determinants of Progressive Social Spending in Brazilian States

In this paper, based on a chapter of my dissertation, I analyze what political and economic factors influence state-level investment in social policies that disproportionately benefit the lower classes including public health, education, housing and social assistance. For this purpose, I created an original data set that includes information on all 26 Brazilian states plus the Federal District from 2002 through 2017.  Using time series cross-sectional methods, I find that states are constrained by their economic conditions such as their debt burden, but despite these constraints, politics still matter.  I find evidence that the left parties in government and the strength of civil society are important determinants of increased spending on progressive social policies. 

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.

Global Crisis, Local Solutions: Subnational Responses to COVID-19 in Brazil nd Mexico


In this paper, co-authored with Isabel Laterzo, we examine responses to the COVID-19 crisis in Brazil and Mexico. In both cases, the burden of imposing and enforcing social distancing measures has been left to subnational authorities. In this paper, we examine how subnational governments have responded to the crisis and how variance in these responses affects citizen compliance with public health norms. Specifically, we ask two interrelated questions. First, when do governors choose to contradict the president and implement strict social distancing measures? Second, under what conditions are subnational measures most successful at achieving their goal?  Given that the presidents of both Mexico and Brazil are leaders of institutionalized parties, we expect that governors who previously aligned with the president will break from the president if they face high numbers of infections in their state. Additionally, we hypothesize that compliance with social distancing measures will depend on both the severity of an outbreak, political leanings, and socioeconomic conditions of a given state. We develop a data set of state-level responses to COVID-19 as well as make use of Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Data to test our hypotheses.