SAIS faculty member wins international award for study of voting disparities

SAIS faculty member wins international award for study of voting disparities

Pavithra Suryanarayan, Assistant Professor of International Political Economy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), is a winner of the 2016 GESIS Klingemann Prize for the Best CSES Scholarship.

Suryanarayan co-authored the scholarly paper, “When Do the Rich Vote Less Than the Poor and Why? Explaining Turnout Inequality Across the World,” which was published in theAmerican Journal of Political Science.

“I was pleasantly surprised and happy the paper was recognized,” she said. “I hope this piece will be influential in shaping the conversation on the linkages between inequality, voting behavior, and fiscal policy.”

The paper examined the correlation between income and voter turnout. Suryanarayan said until the publication of this article, conventional wisdom was that the wealthy vote at higher rates than the poor. Her research, including survey data from over 70 countries, indicated that voting patterns are the reverse in many places.

The study takes an argument on the relationship between taxation and voting: if the wealthy do not anticipate high levels of taxation, they are less likely to vote.

“It is my hope that this paper will add to our collective knowledge about inequality,” she said, adding that inequalities come in many different forms, such as political, ethnic, and social inequalities. “It’s one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and the GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences award the prize to the best scholarship — which can be a paper, book, dissertation, or other scholarly work — that was published or finalized in the previous year. It is named after renowned political scientist Dr. Hans-Dieter Klingemann.

Suryanarayan, who joined Johns Hopkins SAIS in 2015, will teach Comparative Politics, Political Economy of Inequality, and Political Economy of India during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Suryanarayan specializes in the comparative politics of developing countries with a focus on inequality, fiscal capacity, ethnic politics, and Indian politics; as well as political methodology with a focus on multilevel statistical techniques.

She received her PhD in political science from Columbia University, where her dissertation focused on the development of tax institutions in Colonial India. She has been published inWorld Politics, Party Politics and Asian Survey.

Suryanarayan shares the 2016 GESIS Klingemann Prize with Columbia University Assistant Professor of Political Science Kimuli Kasara. They will give a presentation and be honored at a reception during the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in September.