Alicia Cooperman, PhD

Alicia Dailey Cooperman


I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University. In May 2019, I received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.

My research focuses on the political economy of development, environmental politics and policymaking, distributive politics, and statistical methods. My broader research agenda studies the politics of natural disasters, natural resource management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

I study politics at the intersection of development and the environment, and I focus on the way that collective action interacts with local politics to influence sustainable development. By combining a deep understanding of the social and political realities of local contexts with cutting-edge climate data, my research illuminates the relationship between human and natural systems. 

In my book project, Trading Favors: Local Politics and Development in Brazil, I argue that community associations help citizens to trade their collective votes for preferential access to public services, since politicians monitor their aggregate votes at polling stations. In my theory of “trading favors,” community mobilization and strong local leadership enable communities to leverage politicians in the electoral process to achieve water access and other service provision. My research makes a theoretical contribution to our understanding of distributive politics by emphasizing the agency of organized marginalized citizens in their interactions with brokers and politicians. I also show how access to water can be used as a political tool, especially in drought-prone areas. As we face a growing issue of water scarcity, my findings help policymakers to improve water access, manage common resources, and strengthen drought resilience.

My work has been published in Political Analysis, and I have received generous funding from multiple sources including the Fulbright-Hays Program and Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP). I have conducted extensive applied research in Brazil (18 months in 2016-2017) using field experiments, survey experiments, original household surveys, analysis of climate and electoral data, and qualitative methods. My methods training includes field experiments and randomization inference, multilevel models, regression discontinuity, limited dependent variable and panel data, and ArcGIS.

I received a Master of International Affairs (MIA) in 2013 from UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy (formerly IR/PS). I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 2008 with a B.A. in Human Biology.