Larry Martin Bartels


Larry Bartels, the Donald E. Stokes Professor in Public and International Affairs and professor of politics, spent 20 years on the Princeton faculty.

He received his B.A. from Yale University and his doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley. His scholarly work focuses on American democracy, including public opinion, electoral politics, public policy and representation. He is currently working on a book on democratic accountability (with Christopher Achen), a study of the political attitudes and behavior of wealthy Americans (with Benjamin Page and Jason Seawright), and a cross-national investigation of political responses to the Great Recession (with Nancy Bermeo and Jonas Pontusson).

Larry’s most recent book, published in 2008, is “Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age.” It has received not only wide critical acclaim in political science, but also endorsements from President Bill Clinton, James Carville and many journalists. It was cited by Barack Obama on the campaign trail and appeared on David Leonhardt’s list of “economics books of the year” in the New York Times; it also won the Gladys M. Kammerer Award for the year’s best book on U.S. national policy. The book focuses on the link between economic conditions and political actions in American democracy — and on the widening gap between the rich and the poor that result from this link. Larry shows that elected representatives are responsive to the views of affluent constituents but often ignore the preferences of poor people. Under Republican presidents in particular, income growth for the middle class and low-income families has consistently lagged behind income growth for affluent families, according to his analysis, thus increasing economic inequality over recent decades.

Larry was vice president of the American Political Science Association, president of its Political Methodology section and chair of the Board of Overseers of the American National Election Studies. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. The dissertation students he supervised now teach at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and Georgetown, among other institutions.

Larry is the intellectual father and founding director of CSDP, which was created in 1999 as a research program within the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The center supports empirical research on democratic political processes and institutions, primarily but not exclusively in the contemporary American setting. Larry led CSDP’s research program to focus “particularly on the relationship between democratic ideals and democratic practice.”

Each year, the center hosts a handful of distinguished visiting scholars and graduate students. These visiting fellows pursue their own research projects, participate in courses and colloquia, and contribute to the intellectual life of CSDP, the Wilson School and the Department of Politics. During Larry’s directorship, the center brought more than 50 visiting fellows to Princeton, including some of the biggest names in political science: Bob Erikson (Columbia), John Huber (Columbia), Keith Krehbiel (Stanford), Diana Mutz (Penn) and Bob Putnam (Harvard). It is testimony to the success of CSDP and Larry’s vision that the center is now routinely listed as one of the premier destinations for visiting faculty from across the United States and beyond.

Larry transferred to emeritus status at Princeton on January 1, 2012, upon joining the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.