Formal mathematical models have provided tremendous insights into politics in recent decades. Formal Models of Domestic Politics (Cambridge UP, 2021) is the leading graduate textbook covering the crucial models that underpin current theoretical and empirical research on politics by both economists and political scientists. This textbook was recently updated to reflect the wealth of new theory-building around the functioning of authoritarian regimes, as well as to include recent developments in the theory of electoral competition, delegation, legislative bargaining, and collective action.
Author Scott Gehlbach is a professor at the University of Chicago, where he is the director of their new PhD program in Political Economy. He is a widely published political economist, with influential articles published in both economics and political science journal as well as two other books. Scott also has a regional specialty in the politics of Russia, Ukraine, and other postcommunist countries.
In our interview, we discuss what formal models are, how they work, and illustrates their usefulness with several examples. We also speak briefly at the end about current Russian politics and the ideas he outlined in his February Washington Post Monkey Cage blog piece on the implications of the invasion of Ukraine.
Host Peter Lorentzen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new Master's program in Applied Economics focused on the digital economy. His own research focus is the political economy of governance in China.