Kim Yi Dionne, Ph.D.

University of California, Riverside

Address: 900 University Drive

City: Riverside, California - 92506

Country: United States

About Me:

Kim Yi Dionne is an Associate Professor of Political Science at UC Riverside and an editor of The Monkey Cage, a blog on politics and political science at The Washington Post. She has also written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Africa is a Country, among other public outlets. Her research examines health interventions (e.g., HIV/AIDS, Ebola, COVID-19), politics, and public opinion—primarily in African countries. Together with fellow political scientist Rachel Beatty Riedl, Dionne hosts Ufahamu Africa, a weekly podcast about life and politics on the continent. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA, where she was a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow in Swahili. She is the author of Doomed Interventions: The Failure of Global Responses to AIDS in Africa. She collected much of the data used in Doomed Interventions when she was a Fulbright Fellow to Malawi from 2008-2009. Her research has also been published in Comparative Political Studies, Politics Groups and Identities, World Development, African Affairs, and other peer-reviewed journals. For a complete list of publications, see her Google Scholar profile. She lives in Riverside, CA, with her husband and two children. 

Research Interests

African Politics

Health Politics and Policy


Experimental Research

Foreign Aid

LGBTQIA Politics

Race, Ethnicity and Politics


Public Opinion

Comparative Political Behavior


Countries of Interest




Congo, Democratic Republic of the (Zaire)



Journal Articles:

(2016) The Political Effects of Agricultural Subsidies in Africa: Evidence from Malawi, World Development

Across sub-Saharan Africa agricultural subsidy programs have again become a common strategy for combatting rural poverty, increasing agricultural production, and reducing food insecurity. Despite a large literature examining subsidies’ effects on output and welfare, little is known about their political effects. This paper examines Malawi’s Agricultural Input Subsidy Programme, one of the largest and most expensive programs implemented, which was launched by the government in 2005. We examine whether the incumbent party, the Democratic Progressive Party headed by president Bingu wa Mutharika, benefited from Malawi’s subsidy program by examining a longitudinal dataset of 1,846 rural Malawians interviewed in 2008 and again in 2010. The individual-level data show no evidence that the subsidy program was targeted to Mutharika’s co-ethnics or co-partisans. Our analysis further demonstrates that the subsidy program increased support for the incumbent party. These results suggest that even when parties are unable or unwilling to target distributional programs at the local level, they may nonetheless derive political benefits. As anti-poverty programs—including agricultural subsidies to small-scale farmers—become increasingly common across the continent, our results suggest that they may help to explain patterns of party affiliation and vote choice, particularly where traditional patterns of partisan affiliation related to ethnic or regional identities are weak.

(2015) Social networks, ethnic diversity, and cooperative behavior in rural Malawi, Journal of Theoretical Politics

Even in divided societies, people from different ethnic backgrounds engage each other and an overwhelming majority of this cross-ethnic interaction does not yield conflict, but rather cooperation. Whereas the literature focuses on ethnic diversity as an impediment to cooperation, this study aims to test whether social networks can overcome the challenges posed by ethnic diversity in collective action. This paper’s contribution is to examine the impact of social ties vis-à-vis ethnic difference on cooperative behavior. I analyze data collected from surveys and behavioral economics experimental play of 188 rural Malawians. I find ethnic difference (or sameness) does not influence whether subjects choose to trust their game partner but being socially connected to a game partner increases the odds that a subject will cooperate.

Books Written:

(2018) Doomed Interventions: The Failure of Global Responses to AIDS in Africa, Cambridge University Press

Between 2002 and 2013, bilateral donors spent over $64 billion on AIDS intervention in low- and middle-income countries. During the same period, nearly 25 million died of AIDS and more than 32 million were newly infected with HIV. In this book for students of political economy and public policy in Africa, as well as global health, Kim Yi Dionne tries to understand why AIDS interventions in Africa often fail. The fight against AIDS requires the coordination of multiple actors across borders and levels of governance in highly affected countries, and these actors can be the primary sources of the problem. Dionne observes misaligned priorities along the global chain of actors, and argues this misalignment can create multiple opportunities for failure. Analyzing foreign aid flows and public opinion polls, Dionne shows that while the international community highly prioritizes AIDS, ordinary Africans view AIDS as but one of the many problems they face daily.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2014) BBC

Interview on BBC during West African Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Radio Appearances:

(2014) Minnesota Public Radio

Guest on The Daily Circuit, a show on Minnesota Public Radio, to discuss the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Newspaper Quotes:

(2017) World Politics Review

Quoted in longform piece about democratic backsliding in Zambia.

(2015) The Guardian

Quoted at length in a piece about academics and public engagement.