Jessica Gottlieb, Ph.D.

Texas A&M University-College Station

Country: United States (Texas)

About Me:

Dr. Jessica Gottlieb is an assistant professor in the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University and a board member of the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network (2019 - ). She earned her PhD in political science Master’s degree in economics from Stanford University. Her research focuses on the political economy of development. In particular, she investigates constraints to democratic accountability in low-income countries -- including information asymmetries and problems of voter coordination, informal institutions and clientelism, and unequal gender norms. Her work has been published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, World Politics, Journal of Politics, and Science Advances, among others. Much of her research has been in sub-Saharan Africa, where she has conducted field experiments, behavioral games, and surveys. Her current projects focus on the implications of weak state capacity and high levels of economic informality for democratic accountability. She also developed and manages the Democratic Erosion Event Dataset.

Research Interests

African Politics

Comparative Political Institutions

Comparative Democratization

Experimental Research

Research Methods & Research Design


Gender and Politics

Democratic Accountability


Informal Sector


Electoral Behavior

State Capacity

Countries of Interest





Ivory Coast (Cote D`Ivoire)


My Research:

Dr. Jessica Gottlieb is an assistant professor in the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University. She studies how democratic institutions fail to engender government accountability in developing countries with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Her work tests theory-driven questions using a mix of primarily quantitative methods including field experiments, lab experiments, and quasi-experimental analyses of administrative data. In a previous project examining the micro-foundations of democratic failure, she used Mali as a case study to demonstrate that low voter expectations of politicians undermine electoral sanctioning of poor performers, collusion among political parties contributes to under-informed voters and under-provision of public goods, and existing gender inequality impedes political mobilization against these poor performing governments. The cumulation of this work contributed to the insight that weak state capacity plays an important role in constraining democratic accountability. Recognizing that state weakness can limit accountability pressures on politicians, she develops and tests new ideas that endogenize state capacity and expose strategic disincentives of democratic politicians in weak states to further invest in state capacity. She is currently developing these insights in a book on informality, political behavior and programmatic politics. Related to this book project, she is working on field experiments in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Guinea to study when and why individuals formally register with the state, and the effects on their political attitudes and preferences when they do.