Dr. Kai Gehring
Chair of Political Economy - University of Zurich


I am a senior researcher at the chair of Political Economy at the University of Zurich. My main research interests are in political economy and economic development. I analyze issues from a polito-economic perspective, create formal models or derive hypotheses from the literature and put those to rigorous empirical tests. Thereby, I emphasize the identification of causal effects through a variety of strategies ranging from intensive fixed effects models, natural experiments, difference-in-differences to regression discontinuity designs.

My main motivation to do research is the interest to understand better how political and market institutions work. By creating knowledge I hope to contribute to making the world a free, wealthier and happier place. As an researcher my aim is to find out which institutions and regulations are most likely to make societies function well, and which might not despite being intended to do so. In my view, the role of an economist in society is (with the words of Frederic Bastiat) to see "the seen and the unseen", and not fall prey to common sense and make-believe. Don't trust simplistic explanations and remember that the world is full of trade-offs, and unfortunately not free lunches.

Thus my research is motivated by the aim to understand and empirically investigate puzzling phenomena and urgent economic and political questions. While I am also interested in methods themselves, my main motivation is their application to answer urgent economic and political questions in a convincing way. In doing so my motto is "as complicated as necessary, but also to keep things as simple and understandable as possible".

Research Interests