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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Sabbatical and Research Leave 24-25 (Michaelmas Term)


Roberto Stefan Foa is University Lecturer in politics and public policy and Co-Director of the Cambridge Centre for the Future of Democracy. He obtained his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Harvard University. He is currently a Principal Investigator for the seventh round of the World Values Survey in Indonesia and Bangladesh, a fellow of the Electoral Integrity Project, and a member of the Oxford Altius Society. Previously, he has worked for organisations including the World Bank, the United Nations, and the OECD. His articles have been published in a wide range of Q1 journals including Political Geography, the European Journal of Political Research, Governance, and the Journal of Democracy, and include three articles that are rated by the Web of Science as being among the top 1% highest impact publications in their fields. Beyond academic publishing, he has written articles for the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs, and is regularly interviewed for national and international radio.


Comparative survey research; democratic legitimacy; authoritarianism; historical state formation; institutions; political economy of development.


Key publications: 

(2020) “Covid-19 and Subjective Well-Being” (with Sam Gilbert and Mark Fabian)

(2020) “The Global Satisfaction with Democracy Report 2020”, Centre for the Future of Democracy (with Andrew Klassen, Micheal Slade, Alex Rand and Rosie Collins)

(2019) “Frontier Settlement and the Spatial Variation of Civic Institutions,” Political Geography (with Anna Nemirovskaya)

(2019) “Youth and the Populist Wave,” Philosophy and Social Criticism (with Yascha Mounk)

(2018) “Modernization and Authoritarianism,” Journal of Democracy

(2018) “The End of the Democratic Century: Autocracy's Global Ascendance” Foreign Affairs (with Yascha Mounk)

(2017) “The Weakness of Postcommunist Civil Society Reassessed” European Journal of Political Research (With Grzegorz Ekiert)

(2017) “The End of the Consolidation Paradigm,” Journal of Democracy (with Yascha Mounk)

(2017) “Persistence or Reversal of Fortune? Early State Inheritance and the Legacies of Colonial Rule”, Politics and Society

(2017) “The Signs of Deconsolidation,” Journal of Democracy (With Yascha Mounk)

(2017) “Set-Point Theory and Societal Collapse: The Case of Russia” Journal of Happiness Studies (With Ronald Inglehart, Tatiana Karabchuk and Eduard Ponarin)

(2016) “The Danger of Deconsolidation: The Democratic Disconnect” Journal of Democracy (With Yascha Mounk)

(2016) “How State Capacity Varies Within Frontier States: A Multi-Country Subnational Analysis” Governance (With Anna Nemirovskaya)

Assistant Professor
Course Director: MPhil in Public Policy
University Teaching Officer
Sabbatical and Research Leave 24-25 (Michaelmas Term)

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