Selected Work in Progress
As part of my dissertation I'm currently conducting field work with political elites. Therefore, all references to my thesis work are temporarily removed from my website.

How diverse are political institutions? Despite the theoretical and political relevance of this question, there is no standard measure of diversity in political institutions, which hinders systematic research on patterns of diversity around the world. This letter introduces a Diversity of Representation Index (DORI), a measure of diversity considering multiple sociodemographics and their fair representation. Moreover, I provide the first comprehensive data on descriptive diversity in parliaments in 28 Western democracies from 1789-2020 in terms of age, gender, and race and ethnicity. I first show that sociodemographic diversity has been low throughout the period, but has increased since the 1960s due to the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups. Then, drawing on applications in various fields, I demonstrate the importance of studying diversity in political science research and how DORI represents a unified yet multidimensional and flexible measure to assess it.

Increasing minority representation in American politics has long been of interest to political scientists, yet minority candidate emergence as a key precursor to representation has been largely overlooked. We argue that political empowerment and district magnitude are the main institutional drivers of the decision to run for office among historically marginalized group members. Drawing on an original dataset on African American's presence in office and candidate pools, district demographics, and electoral institutions, combined with candidate emergence data for most 2018 and 2020 state legislative elections, we show that African American candidates are more likely to emerge when they are more empowered and in multi-member state legislative districts. These findings have important implications for understanding how institutions shape candidate emergence incentives and, ultimately, descriptive representation, and contribute to the renewed upsurge in electoral reform discussion in the United States.

3. Closer to You? Candidate Gender and Proximity Voting
(with Jonathan Homola)

How does candidate gender affect voter preferences under the traditional model of spatial competition? Although prior work shows that voters tend to have biased perceptions of ideological positions and issue expertise when comparing female and male candidates, we do not yet know how these perceptions ultimately influence vote choice in a proximity framework. We argue that voters are confronted with a trade-off involving (i) candidate gender, (ii) ideological distance (proximity considerations), and (iii) policy issues (valence considerations). We disentangle the interplay of these three factors by using a survey experiment and by re-analyzing existing survey experiments which neglected candidate gender as an otherwise unimportant control variable. The results help us better understand the interplay of candidate gender and proximity voting as well as the advantages and disadvantages that female politicians face when running for office. As such, they contribute to a lively literature on gender gaps in voter perceptions as well as voting preferences and vote choice.

4. Historically Marginalized Groups and Ideological Representation in Legislatures
(with Gonzalo Di Landro)

A widespread assumption in political science research and among the public is that politicians from historically marginalized groups, including women, racial-ethnic minorities, and younger adults, are more leftist than their counterparts. However, there is limited empirical evidence to substantiate this claim. In this letter, we analyze three decades of individual-level elite data from Latin America to investigate whether parliamentarians from these groups do indeed differ ideologically from their counterparts, and, whether their numeric representation affects the ideology of parties and legislatures. Our individual- and aggregate-level results help us better understand the interplay between identity, ideology, and representation. As such, they contribute to bridging two lively literatures on the ideological and inclusionary transformations shaping current Western democracies.