My work focuses on comparative politics, mainly with two substantive interests: 1) the study of environmental politics, especially in low-income countries, and 2) the study of political representation, focusing on the absence of women and youth in political institutions.

Within the larger theme of environmental politics, I examine a host of issues: I work with several projects funded by the Swedish Research Council that study different political dimensions of protected nature reserves in African countries. I am interested in understanding a range of outcomes, including quality of environmental regulations and resource problems (e.g. poaching, deforestation, overfishing). Besides a focus on comparative politics, I have wide experience of field research work in South Africa and neighboring countries. My dissertation studied the problem of local bribery among officials in natural resource governance (example of articles in Global Environmental Change and Public Administration). For an example of work studying people’s attitudes to poaching and anti-poaching involvement, see a recent article in World Development.

Within the theme of political representation, I study a number of knowledge gaps broadly related to a) gender and politics and b) youth representation, briefly described below.

In my work on gender and politics, I have developed the insights on how to measure and understand processes around women’s political presence and rights across the world. Together with colleagues in the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project, I launched the ‘Women’s Political Empowerment Index’, a set of data that is free for the public to download and use (see also Sundström et al. 2017). For an example of work on public support for female leaders across Africa, see article in Public Opinion Quarterly. My interest on gender and politics has lead me to recently study women’s presence in subnational institutions within and across African countries.

My work on youth representation is part of a broader attempt, largely together with Daniel Stockemer, to build an agenda on this under-researched topic. This includes theorizing about why youth’s absence in politics is a democratic deficit (chapter 2 in our book Youth without Representation is the most comprehensive attempt to do so), examine this problem empirically from different angles, making data such as age distributions among legislators available for others (see and to organize events to gather a community of researchers and other actors interested in this problem.