Michelle is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Quality of Government Institute. She received her PhD from University College Dublin in 2011, and has an Msc from the London School of Economics and a BA from the University of Cambridge.
Her thesis, entitled ‘Essays on the Fiscal Contract in Sub-Saharan Africa’ used a comparative fiscal sociology approach to understanding how political processes impact on tax and spending outcomes in African states.
Her current research interests centre on issues of institutional sequencing and its effect on human development: how the timing of democratization impacts on state development and human welfare outcomes.
Most developed countries acquired considerable state capacity before they democratized, but in the developing world today this situation is reversed. Since state building is often a coercive and conflictual process, it is unclear whether democracy will help or hinder the development of state capacity.
These broad theoretical questions are investigated through a number of focused research projects: a comparative qualitative study of tax reform in Rwanda and Burundi; a quantitative analysis of the relationship between tax capacity and democracy in developing countries more broadly; and a comparative study of the impact of democracy on welfare policy and outcomes in Malawi and Kenya.
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