Dr. Kai Gehring
University of Zurich

 

I am currently a senior researcher at the University of Zurich, funded by a 4-year "Ambizione Grant" of the Swiss National Science Foundation. My PhD is from the University of Goettingen (advisor Axel Dreher ), and my undergraduate degree from the University of Mannheim. I have teaching experience at the University of Mannheim, Heidelberg University, the University of Applied Sciences in Kaiserslautern, and the University of Zurich, and conducted research stays at Harvard, Cambridge, and Stanford University. I am a member of CESifo, the European Development Network (EUDN), the Development Economics Committee of the German Economic Association, and the "Globalization and Development" Group (GlaD).

My main research interests are in political economy, development and public economics. I develop theories based on economics and related disciplines, and test them rigorously using modern econometric methods, often with the help of novel administrative, geographical or historical data. My aim is to answer scientifically and socially relevant research questions in developed and developing countries, emphasizing the importance of culture, norms and history. I am driven by my deep interest to better which formal and informal institutions explain how well countries -- comprised of heterogenous groups with diverging interests -- function and develop.

My work can be distinguished in three key strands. First, understanding the impact of development cooperation and aid for developing countries. Second, analyzing political economy aspects of international organizations like the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, and of international credit rating agencies. Third, analyzing the origins and consequences of group identities and horizontal inequalities - e.g., in resource distribution - for conflict and preferences about the vertical distribution of power.

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

Education