Lauren Young

Lauren Young Portrait

Position Title
Assistant Professor and Placement Director

Kerr 665
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616


  • Ph.D., Political Science, Columbia University, 2016
  • M.A., Political Science, Columbia University, 2011
  • B.A., International Relations, Stanford University, 2008


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at UC Davis. I received my Ph.D. in political science with distinction from Columbia University and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford and the Center for Global Development (CGD) (non-resident). I am a member of the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) and Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) networks and a co-organizer of the California Workshop on Empirical Political Science.

Research Focus

My research aims to understand how individuals make decisions when faced with the threat of violence. My book project investigates how citizens make decisions about participation in pro-democracy dissent in autocratic regimes. I argue that emotions shape perceptions of risks and risk aversion, and can therefore be used by elites to mobilize or demobilize civilians. I test this theory in Zimbabwe using a mix of field experiments, lab-in-the-field experiments, quantitative analysis of historical trends, and in-depth qualitative interviews. In addition to my research on Zimbabwe, I have ongoing or completed research projects in Eastern Europe, Haiti, and Mexico that explore how violence and other forms of coercion affect political behavior.

My research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, United States Institute for Peace, and CEPR-DfID’s Public Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) initiative, among others. It has been published in the American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, the Journal of Peace Research, Comparative Politics, and Comparative Political Studies. My 2019 book with Isabela Mares, Conditionality and Coercion, on varieties of clientelism in Hungary and Romania was recognized with the William H. Riker Book Award from the APSA Political Economy section, the Best Book Award from the APSA European Politics and Society Section, and Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award from the APSA Comparative Politics section.



Conditionality and Coercion: Electoral Clientelism in Eastern Europe With Isabela Mares. 2019, Oxford University Press.
– Winner, APSA Political Economy Section William H. Riker Book Award

– Winner, APSA European Politics and Society Section Book Award

– Honorable Mention, APSA Comparative Politics Section Gregory Luebbert Book Award

Oxford UP | Amazon


Social Origins of Dictatorship: Elite social networks and political transitions in Haiti. With Suresh Naidu and James A. Robinson. 2021, American Political Science Review.
Article (Open Access)

Mobilization under threat: An experimental test of opposition party strategies in a repressive regime. 2021. Political Behavior, OnlineFirst.
Article (Open Access)

Who dissents? Self efficacy and opposition action after state-sponsored election violence. 2020. Journal of Peace Research 57(1), pp. 62-76.
Pre-Print | Article

The psychology of state repression: Fear and dissent decisions in Zimbabwe. 2019. American Political Science Review 113(1), pp. 140-155.
Pre-Print | Article

Fear and citizen coordination against dictatorship. 2019. With Abraham Aldama and Mateo Vasquez. Journal of Theoretical Politics 31(1): pp. 103-125.

Varieties of clientelism in Hungarian elections. 2019. With Isabela Mares. Comparative Politics 51(3), pp. 449-480.

The core voter’s curse: Clientelistic threats and promises in Hungarian elections. 2018. With Isabela Mares. Comparative Political Studies 51(11), pp. 1441-1471.
Pre-Print | Article

Buying, expropriating and stealing votes. 2016. With Isabela Mares. Annual Review of Political Science 19, pp. 267-288.

Pre-Print | Article



POL 290F: Political Behavior in the Developing World


POL 2: Introduction to Comparative Politics
POL 146A: Contemporary African Politics


2021 Hellman Grant – Principal Investigator ($18,000)
2020 UC MEXUS-CONACYT Collaborative Grant – Principal Investigator ($25,000)
2018 National Science Foundation Law & Social Sciences – Principal Investigator ($249,021)
2017 IFREE Small Grants – Principal Investigator ($9,948)
2016 Columbia Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience Seed Funding ($30,000)
2016 Columbia Center for Experimental Laboratory for the Social Sciences Grant ($1,000)
2015 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant ($17,500)
2015 USIP Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship ($20,000)
2015 Columbia Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellowship
2014 International Peace Research Association Foundation Grant ($5,000)
2014 Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Travel Grant ($13,000)
2013 Earth Institute AC4 Fellowship ($3,000)
2012 Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries Exploratory Grant ($38,000)
2011 Columbia Center for the Study of Development Strategies Seed Funding ($8,000)