Post-Doctoral and Research Fellows

Adam Harris

Adam Harris received his Ph.D. from New York University in August 2015. He specializes in ethnic and African politics. In his dissertation, he seeks to understand why some voters (up to 52% of African voters) do not support their ethnic group’s party. To answer this question, he develops and measures the concept of ethnic proximity that moves beyond the academic convention of co-ethnicity to more fully consider the complex role ethnicity plays in political preference formation. The dissertation argues that the degree to which ethnic group membership influences political preferences is determined by one’s position in her ethnic group, which is in turn determined by her ethnic attributes (her ethnic proximity). The dissertation uses original panel survey and experimental data to test the effect of ethnic proximity on voter preferences in South Africa. The results are also replicated in the US and Ugandan contexts. In short, his dissertation concludes that those who are less proximate to their own group and more proximate to an out-group are more likely to be swing voters and will have weaker preferences for their ethnic group’s party. Adam has also conducted research on ethnic identifiability (recently published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution), ethnic and immigrant prejudice, the determinants of political protests, ideological ideal point estimation among African legislators, and the effects of foreign aid in recipient countries. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, New York University, and Columbia University.

Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao received her PhD in 2015 from the University of Calfornia, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. Kristen’s dissertation investigates the effects of electoral institutions on tribal voting behavior, ethnic clientelism, and authoritarian rule in the Middle East, where she spent over two years conducting fieldwork. Her broader research interests include the study of electoral authoritarianism, clientelism, ethnic politics, survey methodology, field experiments, politics of the MENA region, and voter behavior. Her research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Political Science Association, the National Security Education Program, the American Center of Oriental Research, and the Project on Middle East Political Science, among others. 


Ruth Carlitz

Ruth Carlitz is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in June 2016. Her research looks at government responsiveness from the ‘top down’ (how governments distribute public goods) and the ‘bottom up’ (what citizens and non-governmental organizations can do to promote transparency and accountability). Ruth’s dissertation focuses on Tanzania, where nearly half of the population languishes without access to a clean and safe source of drinking water despite massive investments in this sector in recent years. In order to make sense of this disconnect, she analyzes finely-grained, geo-coded data on spending and infrastructure construction for water provision, contextualized by public opinion surveys, interviews and focus group discussions. She finds that Tanzania's strategy of decentralizing water provision to local governments has largely failed to improve access, due to political favoritism at the local level as well as a ‘demand-responsive approach’ that privileges wealthier communities. In addition to her academic research, Ruth has worked on evaluations commissioned by organizations including the World Bank, the International Budget Partnership, and the Institute of Development Studies. Ruth lived in Tanzania from 2006-2008, where she worked with the local NGO HakiElimu. She has also conducted fieldwork in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Website: