Alison Post - Urbanization, City Size, and Public Services

Alison Post, Associate Professor at University of California, Berkeley
Encina Hall West, room 400

According to U.N. projections, 86% of global population growth over the next two decades will occur in cities of low and middle-income countries. While social science scholarship typically focuses on megacities, most population growth will occur in small- and medium-sized urban centers. Meanwhile, many countries have decentralized significant policy responsibilities to municipal governments over the last three decades. Expectations derived from the literature on fiscal federalism suggest that this is a cause for concern, as larger cities are thought to deliver public goods more effectively than smaller ones owing to economics of scale. This book project, building on a recent article in Perspectives on Politics, examines the relationship between city size and the types of political demands citizens make of local governments, the ways in which local elected officials respond to these demands, and public service access and quality. Analysis focuses on four large, highly decentralized democracies: Argentina, Brazil, India, and Indonesia.


Alison Post holds the Travers Family Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair of Political Science and is Associate Professor of Global Metropolitan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research examines urban politics and policy and other political economy themes, including environmental politics and policy, regulation, and business-government relations. She also collaborates with engineers, urban planners, and scholars of public health on research on infrastructure and natural resource management, and “smart city” technology adoption. She works principally in Latin America, and recently in India and the United States as well.

Post is the author of Foreign and Domestic Investment in Argentina: The Politics of Privatized Infrastructure (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and articles in the Annual Review of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Governance, Perspectives on Politics, Politics & Society, Studies in Comparative International DevelopmentWorld Development, and other outlets.  She has been named a Clarence Stone Scholar (an early career award) by the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, and received U.C. Berkeley’s Carol D. Soc award for mentoring graduate students. Her doctoral dissertation won the 2009 William Anderson award from the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in the general field of federalism, intergovernmental relations, state or local politics. She has served as a Marshall Scholar, a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a postdoctoral research scholar with the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, a Visiting Researcher at the Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad in Buenos Aires and the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (E.C.L.A.C.) in Santiago, and as a Researcher at L.S.E. Urban Research in London. She is a former President of the Urban and Local Politics section of the American Political Science Association and Former Co-Director of the Global Metropolitan Studies Program at U.C. Berkeley, and currently Chair of the Steering Committee for the Red de Economía Política de America Latina (Repal).