Laura Paler

Associate Professor, Department of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University


I am an associate professor in the Department of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University. I study comparative politics and the political economy of development, focusing on taxation, intergroup conflict, and strategies for improving intergroup relations in divided societies. Much of my research involves conducting large scale field projects, using experiments or quasi-experimental methods for causal inference, and collecting original survey and behavioral data. I have conducted research in a number of countries, including Indonesia, Colombia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, and the United States. My research has been published in the American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, and The Quarterly Journal of Political Science, among other outlets.

I am also a Co-Director of the Democratic Erosion Consortium (DEC)DEC is a rapidly growing consortium of researchers, students, policymakers, and practitioners with the common goal of deepening understanding of democratic erosion and identifying evidence-based strategies to combat it. DEC’s main activities include improving education on democratic erosion; documenting democratic erosion trends and dynamics; marshaling existing research to inform evidence-based interventions; and fostering learning, discussion, and academic-practitioner partnerships. Additionally, I am a member of the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network and a co-convener of the Northeast Workshop in Empirical Political Science

Previously, I was an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh; a fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University; and a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC. I received my Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.