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Rebecca Perlman

Rebecca Perlman

Ph.D. Candidate


Rebecca is a Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, as well as a Dissertation Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences. She studies international political economy with a focus on regulation, trade, and the role of international institutions.

Rebecca’s book project explores the origins of health and safety regulations. She develops a theory specifying the conditions under which firms are able to use health and safety regulations in order to block international competition. The theory produces the surprising conclusion that innovative firms benefit from and actively seek regulations that rule some of their own products unsafe.

The empirical portion of the book tests the theory at both domestic and international levels using data from the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and industrial-chemical sectors. The findings reveal that innovative firms have been as successful at winning preferential outcomes nationally as they have internationally, through standards sanctioned by the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is true despite the fact that the regulatory outcomes innovative firms seek serve as barriers to international trade and disproportionately disadvantage firms in developing countries. In addition, the book shows that the WTO’s rules permitting nations to deviate from international standards if they have a scientific justification for doing so could serve to exacerbate the regulatory dynamics that the book uncovers.

Rebecca has received funding from the Horowitz Foundation and Stanford’s Europe Center. She also received a Stanford Graduate Research Opportunity Grant. She holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her undergraduate degree is from Princeton University, where she majored in politics and graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa.