Dr. Kai Gehring
University of Bern


I am currently a professor for political economy and sustainable development at the economics department University of Bern. I am a member of the interdisciplinary Wyss Academy for Nature in Bern and an research professor associated with the ifo institute in Munich. Before that I worked at the University of Zurich, funded by a 4-year "Ambizione Grant" from 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, CESifo, Deakin University and Stanford. 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 prior 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.

Currently, I work on three main topics

Research Interests


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