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Why do governments backtrack on major policy reforms? Reversals of pension privatization provide insight into why governments abandon potentially path-departing policy changes. Academics and policy­makers will find this work relevant in understanding market-oriented reform, authoritarian and post-communist politics, and the politics of aging populations. The clear presentation and multi-method approach make the findings broadly accessible in understanding social security reform, an issue of increasing importance around the world. Survival analysis using global data is complemented by detailed case studies of reversal in Russia, Hungary, and Poland including original survey data. The findings support an innovative argument countering the conventional wisdom that more extensive reforms are more likely to survive. Indeed, governments pursuing moderate reform - neither the least nor most extensive reformers - were the most likely to retract. This lends insight into the stickiness of many social and economic reforms, calling for more attention to which reforms are reversible and which, as a result, may ultimately be detrimental.


Amy Liu, Megan Roosevelt, and Sarah Wilson Sokhey. 2017. “Trade and the Recognition of Commercial Lingua Francas: Russian Language Laws in Post-Soviet Countries," Economics & Politics, Vol. 29, Issue 1 (March), pp. 48-68.

Dinissa Duvanova and Sarah Wilson Sokhey. 2016. “State Aid to Firms During Financial Crisis: Evidence from the Emerging European Countries,” Business & Politics, Vol. 18, No. 3 (October), pp.225-262.

Sarah Wilson Sokhey. 2015. “Market-Oriented Reforms as a Tool of State-Building: Russian Pension Reform in 2001,” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 67 (5): 695-717.

Sarah Wilson Sokhey and A.Kadir Yildirim. 2013. “Economic Liberalization and Political Moderation: The Case of Islamist and Communist Parties,” Party Politics, Vol. 19 (2): 230-255.

Irfan Nooruddin and Sarah Wilson Sokhey. 2012. "Credible Certification of Child Labor Free Production." In The Credibility of Transnational NGOs: When Virtue is Not Enough, edited by Peter Gourevitch, David A. Lake, and Janice Gross Stein. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 62-85 (Chapter 3). (This is a peer-reviewed chapter prepared for inclusion in an edited volume.)

Work in Progress

“Classy Behavior: The Big Political Role of Small Business Owners” (with A.Kadir Yildirim and Joseph B. Schaffer); Using multilevel models with data from the 2002-2010 European Social Survey (ESS), we look at how owning a small business influence one's political preferences and behavior. Revise & Resubmit at Comparative European Politics.

“Trade and Liberalization: How Doing Business with Russia Constrains Post-Communist Economies,” (with Moonhawk Kim); Using a cross-sectional dataset of countries over time, we consider how trade with Russia influences trade liberalization. Under Review.

"The Foundations of Social Policy Support: Experimental Evidence on How Institutional Quality Affects Redistributive Preferences," with Israel Marques and Joseph B. Schaffer; We conduct laboratory experiments in the US and Russia to see how institutional quality affects social policy preferences. This is part of a larger book project including experimental data, survey experiments, cross-national data, and case studies. Article being prepared for submission.

“Regime Type and Investment in Higher Education: Evidence from Eurasia” (with Margaret Hanson); We examine the connection between authoritarianism and investing in higher education with a focus on the post-communist countries and the case of Kazakhstan. Article being prepared for submission.

“Authoritarian Policy Diffusion: Healthcare Reforms across the Regions of Russia,” (with Srinivas Parinandi); Presented at the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (November 2016) and the Midwest Political Science Association (April 2017) Article being prepared for submission.

“Booms & Busts: How Exogenous Shock in Revenue Affect Spending” (with Irfan Nooruddin and Quintin Beazer). Being drafted.

“Rewriting the Social Contract? Survey Evidence on Pension Reform in Mexico and Russia,” Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 2017.