Dr. Jessica Gottlieb joined the Bush School after earning her PhD in political science at Stanford University. She also holds a master’s degree in economics from Stanford University. While at Stanford, Gottlieb received the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship and was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law.
Her research focuses on the political economy of development and, in particular, constraints to government accountability in new democracies. Her work falls into three themes: information asymmetries and voter coordination, informal institutions and clientelism, and the political implications of unequal gender norms. Much of her research has been in sub-Saharan Africa, where she has conducted field experiments, behavioral games, and surveys. She has published articles in the American Journal of Political Science, World Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, and World Development.
Gottlieb conducted a large field experiment in Mali, which found that low citizen expectations of politicians helps explain why free and fair elections fail to generate government accountability in this new democracy. With several co-PIs and as part of EGAP’s Metaketa project, she led another large-scale information experiment around the 2015 elections in Benin. This project demonstrated that voters need to be able to coordinate with one another—or know that others are getting the same information—if they are going to use the new information about politicians at the ballot box. Gottlieb has worked on projects in Senegal examining the role of political intermediaries in influencing voter behavior and how voter coordination determines public good distribution by parties. She is presently working in Senegal and Nigeria on a new research agenda on the political economy of informality and taxation. Specifically, the project aims to understand how taxation mediates political behavior in the informal sector, the social and political constraints to formalizing informal firms, and the consequences of firm formalization on electoral behavior. Her work has also taken her to Guinea, Liberia, and the West Bank, where she trained and recruited educators and other professionals and managed survey teams. Prior to her doctoral studies, Gottlieb worked at the Center for Global Development on a project encouraging donors, country governments, and multilateral organizations to better learn what works in development through improved impact evaluation.
Gottlieb has taught courses on the political economy of development in Africa, field research methods, and political and economic institutions. She also led capstone projects to Benin and Qatar.