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Department of Political Science

Professorship for Political Economy and Development

The Chair "Political Economy of Developing and Emerging Countries" has been in existence since September 2006. We study development processes in low-income states, the interests of the local, national and international actors involved in these processes and the institutional framework conditions that lead to poverty reduction and growth. One focus of our work is education policy, with an emphasis on analysing the efficiency and sustainability of reforms, taking into account the influence of stakeholders. Other research topics include international climate policy, microfinance and the influence of poverty reduction strategies (PRSP) on democratisation processes. The chair works primarily empirically, using household surveys, student surveys and experiments.

Director of the area


Post Docs:
Dr. Kassandra Birchler - Political psychology
Dr. Daniel Chachu - Political Economy, intersection of Natural Resource Economics, Institutional Economics and Public Economics
Dr. Marcela Ibáñez Political economy, comparative politics, development economics, post-conflict development
Dr. Philipp Kerler - Development economics, economic preferences, political economy

Doctoral students/assistants:
Raphaela Andrea Kotsch - International climate policy, carbon markets
Sofie Heintz - Inequality, public service provision and environmental politics

Research assistants:
Dr. Axel Michaelowa - Head of research group “International climate policy”

Auxiliary assistants:
Anna Fehlbaum
Laura Mauricio

Main research areas

Development policy, aid effectiveness, public choice, international climate policy

Teaching and supervision

Our teaching is split into two major parts: (1) basic economics, and (2) specialized courses related to concrete areas of our research.

(1) For first and second year students, teaching concentrates on basic economic theory and methods of economic analysis (basic microeconomics, macroeconomics, game theory, and public choice theory). The central courses that are offered regularly are:

  • Basic competences in Political Economy (Kernkompetenz Politische Ökonomie, every spring term, taught in German): Basic microeconomics, economic decision making and optimization, public choice
  • Intermediate Political Economy (Vertiefung Politische Ökonomie, two-semester course, starting in fall, taught in German): Basic macroeconomics (growth, government debt, inflation, unemployment…) and further microeconomics and public choice (welfare theory, probabilistic voting…)

(2) For the more specialized courses and electives we focus on thematic areas that are in line with the specific research interests of the different members of our team, i.e. political economy and long term development, policies and politics in developing countries, international development cooperation, and international climate policy. In the more advanced research seminars, we usually expect students to carry out their own econometric estimations. This requires a strong interest in applied quantitative methods and engagement of the students. Our aim is to teach students modern econometric methods and their applications, so that they are able to understand current high quality and well-published research papers, and build on those for their own projects. The teaching method relies on intensive reading and interactive discussions, so that students will gain a thorough understanding of current research and methods. In the end, students should know all common approaches for causal inferences and their strength and weaknesses, as well as the current state of the respective literature.

These specialized courses are often offered in English. In recent years, they have covered the following topics:

  • Understanding and measuring globalization
  • Long term development
  • Social protection schemes in developing countries
  • Governance, institutions and development
  • Development economics and politics
  • Aid allocation and aid effectiveness
  • International economic governance
  • The political economy of international organizations
  • Economic development in dynamic Asian countries
  • Microfinance: theory and practice
  • Education policies in developing countries
  • The political economy of modern Latin America
  • Core labor standards and economic development
  • Informal labor markets in developing countries
  • Human capital, economic development and governance
  • Comparative democratization: Former Soviet Union, West Africa, Latin America
  • State-building, governance and regime change in the post-Soviet space
  • Economics of climate change and carbon markets
  • Developing countries in international climate politics
  • Sustainable development and international environmental policy

You can find detailed information about the courses of the staff members on the personal pages.


Department of Political Science
Affolternstrasse 56
8050 Zurich
Tel: 044 634 58 35 / 044 634 38 41
Office opening hours: Monday to Friday: 09:00 - 12:00 / 13:30 - 16:30