I am a Ph.D. Candidate at the Wilf Family Department of Politics, New York University, and an Adjunct Professor of the School of International Relations at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) in Brazil. My research examines how institutions and representation affect collective action problems in democratic societies. I apply the tools of formal and experimental analysis to study issues in Comparative Political Economy, Comparative Politics, Environmental Politics, and Representation.

I am currently working on three main projects. The first project (joint with. G. Cepalini) investigates how legislature size affects welfare in Brazilian municipalities. Leveraging data on exogenous city council size thresholds, an original survey conducted with former Brazilian councilors, and a dataset with 346,553 municipal bills, I show that school enrollment increases and infant mortality decrease; but education quality and preventive health care remain unaffected. These findings have important implications for the welfare-representation nexus, showing that more representatives may not always improve welfare, as intuitively assumed.

In the second project, joint with Danilo Freire (Brown) and David Skarbek (Brown), I investigate whether Latin American elites prefer polycentric governance for local climate change mitigation. By surveying academics, bureaucrats, NGOs, firms, and politicians in ten different Latin American countries, the paper shows that although most Latin American elites prefer several features of interlayered governance schemes, they still keep a strong preference for state-led initiatives. The results match most of the Latin American history of a weak civil society and have implications for the local implementation of climate mitigation agreements.

My third project investigates the Political Economy of Populism. Although most of the scholarship on populism studies the phenomenon using psychology and social cleavages, I propose an explanation rooted in rational choice and game theory. In my view, the commitment problems in rent-seeking by the establishment politicians foster populist candidates to become appealing to the mass public. These incentives explain the demand side of populism as a punishment to establishment politicians, and the supply side as an alternative for outsiders to become electorally viable. This project will shed light on the rational choice aspects of populism.

On this website, you will find links to my CV, publications, working papers, and programming codes.


Brazilian Address:

School of International Relations – FGV

Av Paulista 1471, 1st Floor

Sao Paulo, SP – Brazil – 01311-927

US Address:

The Wilf Family Department of Politics – NYU

19 West 4th Street, 2nd Floor.

New York, NY, USA – 10012

Office Hours: Mondays, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, or by appointment.

Email: umberto.mig [at] nyu.edu / umberto.mignozzetti [at] fgv.br