About Me

I am Vincent Mauro, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Cornell University. I study comparative politics and the politics of inequality.

My book project argues that democracy can certainly spark an impetus for redistribution, but representation – particularly in the developing world – is far from given, and redistributive outcomes across democracies are often driven, at least partially, by the underlying development of party systems. In Latin America and across much of the democratic world, broader patterns of social reform, redistribution, and levels of inequality are largely contingent on the structure and institutionalization of party systems. Utilizing cross-sectional time-series analysis, as well as two longitudinal cases of Brazil and Colombia based on extensive archival work, I find countries with stable multi-party systems are more likely to redistribute income, as well as possess lower levels of inequality, than those with inchoate, hegemonic, or two-party counterparts.

In a related project, I build an original dataset constructed through the text analysis of party manifestos from dozens of countries in order to measure the likelihood that politicians and parties discuss social issues and formulate social policy initiatives during elections. More theoretically, I argue that party ideology is not driving party behavior in terms of social policy formulation – left-wing parties are roughly as likely to promote social reforms during elections as centrist or right-wing counterparts. Rather, parties primarily respond to structural dynamics of competition within their respective party systems, and are significantly more likely to pursue social issues and policies when facing robust competition from opponents in closely contested elections.

As a cautionary corollary to my book project, my job market paper shows how in highly unequal countries political parties – particularly those that are a redistributive threat to elites’ interests – can actually pose democracy’s most dangerous threat. On occasions where the formation of a new party with strong ties to the popular sectors occurs, or a traditional party is captured by an upstart redistributivist or populist, Latin American democracies are unlikely to survive. With the primary goal of theory-building, I rely on time-series analysis, qualitative historical analysis, and elite survey experiments, to understand how in the last century a significant majority of Latin American democracies have fallen in the presence of, or immediately following the rise of, an emerging redistributive threat. I hope to expand on this work through the collection and analysis of a global dataset on the likelihood of military coups, as well as further elite survey and qualitative comparative historical analysis, to more comprehensively test the theory.

Lastly, I also am currently conducting a multi-faceted project with co-authors centered on understanding the political behavior of elites, particularly in respect to their perceptions of democracy, redistribution, and crime. In one of these projects, we conduct survey experiments on business elites in Brazil and Mexico, finding that elites are significantly more likely to favor redistribution or the establishment of social programs when primed to think about crime and insecurity in their respective countries.

Feel free to contact me at vrm38@cornell.edu. My CV is available here.