Post Awarded NSF, Swedish Research Council Grants

March 13, 2023

Alison PostCongratulations to ITS affiliate and Travers Family Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair of Political Science Alison Post, she has been awarded two prestigious grants.

The first was awarded by the Accountable Institutions and Behavior (AIB) Program from the National Science Foundation. She is the PI for this $350,000 project, entitled “City Size and Public Service Delivery in Comparative Perspective.”

Abstract: According to U.N. projections, most global population growth during next two decades will occur in small- and medium-sized urban centers. Meanwhile, many countries have recently decentralized the provision of many basic services to municipal governments. This means that understanding municipal politics is critical if populations are to have access to basic health, education, and infrastructure services. Such services enable participation in labor markets and facilitate economic development, and thereby contribute to political and social stability. This project will document the extent to which service access and quality vary across cities of different sizes in four large, highly decentralized democracies in three world regions. It will inform policymaking by shedding light on the political factors driving differences in the quality and reach of vital local services across cities of different sizes. In particular, project findings will position policymakers to more effectively target lending and grants intended to improve local service delivery in low- and middle-income countries.

This project proposes and tests a new theoretical explanation of variation in policy priorities and service delivery outcomes across cities of different sizes. It theorizes that officials in smaller cities will prioritize investments in basic health and education facilities, whereas officials in larger cities will devote attention to a broader set of policy areas, and prioritize more specialized health and education services over clinics and schools. These differences stem from the greater prevalence non-state health and education providers in larger cities, greater voter concerns regarding urban problems (i.e., congestion, crime) in larger cities, and politicians’ greater ability to claim and attribute credit for basic health and education facilities in smaller cities. Research will test this theory using a variety of types of data, including: compiled administrative and political data from each of the case study countries; geospatial data on the location of public facilities; social media posts and livestreamed city council meetings; surveys with citizens and politicians; and qualitative research in case study cities of different sizes. Datasets created through the project will be published with online repositories.

The second grant was awarded by the Swedish Research Council. She is the Co-PI for this $1.1 million joint effort with the Governance and Local Development institute at the University of Gothenburg, entitled "Political Change and Local Governance in Emerging Cities”.

Abstract: Within megacities, there are sites of intense conflict, but also examples of successful governance and equitable development. What explains these differences? Emerging Cities develops a collaborative research environment to explain four outcomes: inclusive decision-making, avenues of urban claim-making, peaceful co-existence between host populations and migrants, and equitable development. This project brings together researchers from higher education institutions working on and based in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. The overarching project goals are to study three secondary cities in Brazil, Ghana, and Tunisia; develop theoretical insights into governance and development; and disseminate findings to scholars, policymakers, and practitioners.