Academic Profile

People Feature

Ben Ansell

Professorial Fellow
Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions

Research interests: Democratization, inequality, education, housing, comparative political economy

Ben Ansell is Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions in the Department of Politics and International Relations. He received his PhD in Government from Harvard University in 2006 and conducts research in a wide area of comparative politics and political economy. Before joining Nuffield College he was an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2018.

His initial research focus was the politics of education, with his book From the Ballot to the Blackboard: The Redistributive Politics of Education, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010 and winning the William H. Riker prize for best book in political economy. His second book, coauthored with David Samuels, Inequality and Democratization: An Elite Competition Approach, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014, and received the  William H. Riker prize for best book in political economy and the APSA Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book on politics and international affairs.

His third book, Inward Conquest: The Modern State and the Revolution in the Art of Government that Shook the World, with Johannes Lindvall was published in 2021. 

Ben is finishing a project the politics of wealth inequality, supported by an ERC Consolidator Award, for his project WEALTHPOL: The Politics of Wealth Inequality and Mobility in the Twenty-first Century.

He is the author of Why Politics Fails published by Penguin (UK / worldwide) and PublicAffairs (North America) in 2023.

Ben was selected to give the 2023 Reith Lectures by the BBC.

His work has been published in International OrganizationWorld PoliticsComparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, and the American Political Science Review

From September 2013, together with David Samuels at the University of Minnesota, he has been co-editor of Comparative Political Studies.​

Ben Ansell


A list of Ben's publications may be found at his Personal Site. Some of his selected recent publications are shown below.



'Sheltering Populists? House Prices and the Support for Populist Parties’ with Frederik Hjorth, Jacob Nyrup and Martin Vinæs Larsen. Journal of Politics. 


'The Political Consequences of Housing (Un)Affordability’, with Asl ́ı Cansunar. Journal of European Social Policy.

'Social Distancing, Wealth and Populism’ (with Asl ́ı Cansunar and Mads Elkjær). West European Politics. 2021

'Desk Rejecting: A Better Use of Your Time’ with David Samuels, PS: Political Science & Politics. October 2021.


'Housing and Populism,’ with David Adler. West European Politics. 2020. 


'The Politics of Housing’, Annual Review of Political Science. 2019

'The Future of Housing After Brexit’, with David Adler. Political Quarterly. 2019.


'Global Capital Markets, Housing Prices, and Partisan Fiscal Policies’, with J. Lawrence Broz and Thomas Flaherty. Economics & Politics. 2018.


'Taking Credit: Redistribution and Borrowing in an Age of Economic Polarization', with John Ahlquist. World Politics. Nov 2017.

'Mismatch: University Education and Labour Market Institutions,' with Jane Gingrich PS: Political Science and Politics. Spring 2017.


'Journal Editors and "Results-Free" Research: A Cautionary Note,' with David Samuels, Comparative Political Studies. December 2016.


'The Dynamics of Social Investment: Human Capital, Activation, and Care', with Jane Gingrich, in Beramendi, Pablo, Silja Hausermann, Herbert Kitschelt and Hans-Peter Kriesi (eds.), The Politics of Advanced Capitalism, Cambridge University Press, 2015.