Political Economy

Political Economy

The Political Economy area is dedicated to the mathematical study of politics. Quantitative methods used range from game theory to complexity theory.

We currently sponsor the Political Economy Seminar Series, a frequently scheduled research seminar examaning a broad spectrum of subjects in this discipline. This speaker series enjoys presentations from the leaders in this field of study from accross the United States.

The Ford Center also hosts research faculty visitors from various international institutions.

Political Economy faculty members are engaged in numerous research projects. Our current focus is on three projects:


PoliInformatics is the application of diverse methodological approaches to the study of politics and government. The central objective of this project is to leverage ongoing advances in computer science, machine learning and data visualization to promote analyses of very large and unstructured datasets related to the study of politics. This is a National Science Foundation funded Reseaarch Coordination Network as part of the NSF's initiatives to build community and capacity for data intensive research.

For further information, please contact Professor Daniel Diermeier.

Information Aggregation and Debate

Political decisions are frequently made under uncertainty. In this project Professors David Austen-Smith and Timothy Feddersen develop models of debate and information sharing and assess how well different voting rules aggregate information. Applications of their work include legislative and jury decision making as well as voting by boards, shareholders and committees.

For further information, please contact Professor David Austen-Smith.

Comparative Constitutional Design

Parliamentary democracies (i.e. political systems where the executive is not directly elected, but derives its mandate from and is politically responsible to the legislature) differ widely in the institutional details prescribing how governments are formed and how they terminate. Both constitutional scholars and reformers have argued that constitutional details may have substantial effects on the type and quality of governments in parliamentary democracies. To estimate the qualitative and quantitative effects of these differences, we have developed a structural model based on a stochastic bargaining game between strategic parties.

For further information, please contact Professor Daniel Diermeier.