Rachel M. Gisselquist

Senior Research Fellow

Rachel M. Gisselquist, a political scientist, is a Senior Research Fellow with the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and a member of the institute’s senior management team. She works on the politics of developing countries, with particular attention to inequality, ethnic politics, statebuilding and governance and the role of aid therein, democracy and democratization, and sub-Saharan African politics.

At UNU-WIDER, she currently leads the projects Addressing Group-based Inequalities and The State and Statebuilding in the Global South – International and Local Interactions, and co-leads the projects The Impact of Inequality on Growth, Human Development, and Governance @EQUAL, Clientelist Politics and Economic Development – Theories, Perspectives, and New Directions, and Effects of Swedish and International Democracy Support. She serves as Helsinki-based research focal point for the Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) programme, and is a core member of the UNU-WIDER team in the African Cities Research Consortium. Under the institute’s previous research programmes, she was a focal point for The Politics of Group-Based Inequalities: Measurement, Implications, and Possibilities for Change (2014–18), and the Governance and Fragility theme of the Research and Communication on Foreign Aid (ReCom) programme (2011–13).

Her work is published in various journals and edited volumes, including World Development, Journal of Development Studies, Oxford Development Studies, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Indicators Research, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Democratization, and International Peacekeeping. She is editor/co-editor of a dozen journal special issues and collections, and co-author of the first two editions of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which has become a standard reference on governance. Before moving to Helsinki, she spent three years at Harvard University as Research Director, Index of African Governance. She has also spent time at the London School of Economics and with the World Bank. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.