Erik Wibbels

Erik Wibbels

Robert O. Keohane Professor

External address: 
204J Gross Hall, 140 Science Drive, Box 90204, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90204, Durham, NC 27708-0204
(919) 660-4322


A Professor of Political Science, Wibbels' research focuses on development, decentralized governance, and other areas of political economy. He is the co-general editor of the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the International Growth Centre and AidData, and he has published articles in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, World Politics, International Organization, Comparative Political Studies and elsewhere. Current major projects include the combination of surveys and satellite images to identify slums in India and understand the conditions under which residents achieve formal recognition and successfully attract public services; an impact evaluation of a large, district-level USAID program in Ghana; and work on how the geographic emergence and spread of state authority impact long-term economic development. He also works with bilateral and multilaterial donors to improve the design and evaluation of governance programming. Wibbels previously taught at the University of Washington and the Juan March Institute and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of New Mexico 2000

  • M.A., University of New Mexico 1996

  • B.A., University of Virginia 1993

Selected Grants

SBAR Cambodia SWAP awarded by Triangle Environmental (Co-Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2020

Geospatial Impact Evaluation of Local Government and Infrastructure Project and Infrastructure Needs Program II awarded by College of William and Mary (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2018

The Delivery and Spatial Distribution of Development Projects: Evidence from a USAID Governance Project in Ghana awarded by College of William and Mary (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2017

Illicit Financial Flows Rapid Assessment Tool awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2017

RTI University Scholar Program awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2016

Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant: The Political Economy of Educational Inequality awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2015

SBE Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant: The Political Economy of Decline awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2014

Rueda, D., E. Wibbels, and M. Altamirano. “The origins of dualism.” In The Politics of Advanced Capitalism, 89–111, 2015. Full Text

Rueda, D., E. Wibbels, and M. Altamirano. “The Origins of Dualization.” In The Future of Democratic Capitalism, 2013.

Wibbels, E., and J. Rodden. “Business Cycles and the Political Economy of Decentralized Finance: Lessons for Fiscal Federalism in the E.U..” In Fiscal Policy Surveillance in Europe, edited by Deroose Wierts, Deroose Flores, and Deroose Turrini, 2006.

Brinkerhoff, D. W., A. Wetterberg, and E. Wibbels. “Distance, services, and citizen perceptions of the state in rural Africa.” Governance 31, no. 1 (January 1, 2018): 103–24. Full Text

Pierskalla, J., A. Schultz, and E. Wibbels. “Order, distance, and local development over the long-run.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 12, no. 4 (January 1, 2017): 375–404. Full Text

Beramendi, P., and E. Wibbels. “Globalization, public finance, and poverty.” International Studies Review 17, no. 4 (December 1, 2015): 677–85. Full Text

Johnson, Sheri L., Erik Wibbels, and Richard Wilkinson. “Economic inequality is related to cross-national prevalence of psychotic symptoms..” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 50, no. 12 (December 2015): 1799–1807. Full Text

Huntington, H., and E. Wibbels. “The Geography of Governance in Africa: New Tools from Satellites, Surveys and Mapping Initiatives.” Regional and Federal Studies 24, no. 5 (October 20, 2014): 625–45. Full Text

Gift, T., and E. Wibbels. “Reading, writing, and the regrettable status of education research in comparative politics.” Annual Review of Political Science 17 (January 1, 2014): 291–312. Full Text

Christensen, D., and E. Wibbels. “Labor standards, labor endowments, and the evolution of inequality.” International Studies Quarterly 58, no. 2 (January 1, 2014): 362–79. Full Text

Barber, B., P. Beramendi, and E. Wibbels. “The Behavioral Foundations of Social Politics: Evidence from Surveys and a Laboratory Democracy.” Comparative Political Studies 46, no. 10 (October 1, 2013): 1155–89. Full Text

Wibbels, E., and D. Christensen. “Labor Standards, Trade and the Evolution of Inequality.” International Studies Quarterly, April 2013.


Gadiraju, K. K., R. R. Vatsavai, N. Kaza, E. Wibbels, and A. Krishna. “Machine learning approaches for slum detection using very high resolution satellite images.” In Ieee International Conference on Data Mining Workshops, Icdmw, 2018-November:1397–1404, 2019. Full Text

Wibbels, E. “A Federal Bailout for the States.” San Diego Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News and Observer, January 2009.

Wibbels, E., and J. Pierskalla. “Natural Resources and Human Development in the American States,” 2009.

Wibbels, E. “The Geography of Peace and Violence in Iraq.” The News and Observer, August 2008.