Dr. Kai Gehring
University of Zurich


I am a senior researcher in economics at the University of Zurich, funded by a 4-year "Ambizione Grant" of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). I am also an affiliate member of CESifo, an associate member of the European Development Network (EUDN) , the Research Group on Development Economics in the German Economic Association and the Research Training Group "Globalization and Development" (GlaD).

My main research interests are in political economy, public economics, and economic development. My motivation comes from my deep interest to better understand which formal and informal institutions and political systems are most likely to make societies function well. The SNF project investigates the distribution of resources and group identities, and how they affect political stability and conflict. I apply modern econometric methods and theories, as well as concepts from related discplines like political science, psychology, history and ethnology, and use often novel administrative, geographical or historical data sets for my empirical studies.

In my view, the role of an economist in society is (based on Frederic Bastiat) to consider "the seen and the unseen" consequences of policies, and not fall prey to common sense and make-believe. My credo is not to trust simplistic explanations and remember that the world is full of trade-offs, and unfortunately no free lunches. My hope is that through my work I can contribute my small share to provide a reliable scientific assessment that helps citizens and politicians to realize and account for the trade-offs and effects of important policy-decisions.

In a current project we collect information on governments in Africa. You can find the project site "here" .

In another project we analyze the integration of immigrants to the USA. You can find the project site "here" .

Research Interests