Justin de Benedictis-Kessner is a political scientist and an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He researches American politics, with a focus on political behavior, public policy, local politics, elections, and experimental and quantitative methodology.
His current research focuses on three areas: how citizens hold elected officials accountable, how representation translates their interests into policy via elections, and how people’s policy opinions are formed and swayed. To address questions in these areas, he gathers original data from local politics – a level of government that people interact with on a daily basis, and one that constitutes the vast majority of elected officials and elections in the United States. Importantly, it is also a level of government with vast institutional, demographic, and policy variation, facilitating tests of broad theories of political behavior and political institutions. Methodologically, his work blends several approaches. His evidence comes from original large-scale elections and communications data, surveys, and administrative data gathered through partnerships with governments and service providers, and he uses rigorous causal research designs to test theories of representation, accountability, and political behavior.
His work has been published in journals including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, and Political Communication, and has been supported by funding from Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS), the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Boston Area Research Initiative. He is also a recipient of the Norton Long Young Scholar Award from the APSA Urban Politics Section.
He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.A. in Government and Psychology from the College of William & Mary. Prior to joining Harvard, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Boston University, and before that a postdoctoral researcher at the Boston Area Research Initiative.
Additional information can be found on his website.