Thad Dunning Thad Dunning is Robson Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and directs the Center on the Politics of Development there. He studies comparative politics, political economy, and methodology.

Dunning’s research focuses on how political institutions shape distribution in the developing world, and also how distributive patterns influence the likelihood and character of democracy. His book Crude Democracy: Natural Resource Wealth and Political Regimes (2008, Cambridge University Press) argues against the common view that natural resource wealth promotes autocracy. The book, which develops and tests a theory about the conditional political impact of natural resource rents, won the Best Book Award from the Comparative Democratization section of the American Political Science Association as well as Yale’s Gaddis Smith International Book Prize; the dissertation on which the book is based won the Mancur Olson Prize from the Political Economy Section of the American Political Science Association. His current work on ethnic politics seeks to understand why, in ethnically diverse societies, elections and distributive policy sometimes revolve around ethnic cleavages and sometimes do not. Drawing on field and natural experiments and qualitative fieldwork in Latin America, India, and Africa, Dunning focuses especially on the influence of cross-cutting social or partisan affiliations. In recent articles, he demonstrates that cross-cutting cleavages weaken ethnic voting in Mali and reduce the distributive effects of ethnic quotas in India. In the latter paper, a central role is also played by partisan mobilization through local brokers, the topic of Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism, co-authored with Susan Stokes, Marcelo Nazareno, and Valeria Brusco (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Dunning has also written widely on research design, quantitative modeling, and qualitative and mixed-method research. His book, Natural Experiments in the Social Sciences: A Design-Based Approach (2012, Cambridge University Press), provides the first comprehensive guide to the discovery, analysis, and evaluation of natural experiments – an increasingly popular methodology in the social sciences. The book offers an introduction to key issues in causal inference, emphasizes the importance of strong research design, and demonstrates the contribution of qualitative as well as quantitative methods to natural experiments.

Dunning’s research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Political Analysis, Studies in Comparative International Development, and other journals. He received a Ph.D. degree in political science and an M.A. degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley (2006). Before returning to Berkeley, he was Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

CV (pdf)