Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

+1 401 863 6478
Prospect House


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Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro

Stanley J. Bernstein '65 P'02 Assistant Professor of Political Science


Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro is the Stanley J. Bernstein Assistant Professor of Political Science at Brown University. Her research seeks to understand variation in political responsiveness and government accountability in Latin America.  She has published a book, "Curbing Clientelism in Argentina: Politics, Poverty, and Social Policy," with Cambridge University Press (2014) and many articles in scholarly journals. Her current projects examine citizen attitudes towards corruption, and the functioning of government oversight agencies.

Professor Weitz-Shapiro received a PhD from Columbia University and an AB from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She has been a Fulbright scholar in Argentina and a visiting scholar at the Juan March Institute in Madrid.

She has ongoing projects that examine citizen attitudes towards corruption and mechanisms of state oversight in Brazil and Argentina. She is working on developing new measures of political sophistication that are more appropriate for countries outside of the long-standing, wealthy democracies. She has published or forthcoming articles in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Latin American Research Review, and Latin American Politics and Society.


Professor Weitz-Shapiro is currently focusing on two major ongoing projects. The first, joint with Matthew S. Winters (University of Illinois) focuses on citizen attitudes towards political corruption. In a democracy, if corrupt politicians are elected, it is because they have received the support of voters. Given popular distaste for corruption, why would this be the case, and under what conditions are citizens most likely to actually punish corrupt politicians? In a series of papers that draw on original experiments embedded in two nationally-representative surveys in Brazil (conducted in 2010 and 2013), Weitz-Shapiro and Winters argue that the extent to which citizens punish elected officials for corruption depends on the nature of information available about corruption and citizens’ abilities to process that information. This project also includes a survey experiment in Argentina.

Her second major project focuses on variation in the performance of horizontal accountability institutions—independent government bodies charged with overseeing the performance of other government actors. What explains why these oversight institutions sometimes perform the functions they are charged with carrying out and at other times fail to do so? Professor Weitz-Shapiro examines this question through the lens of Argentina and Brazil’s subnational (provincial and state) audit courts and is developing original datasets on the identities of audit court appointees in both countries. 


“Curbing Clientelism in Argentina: Politics, Poverty, and Social Policy”

(Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Winner of Van Cott Book Award for best book on Latin American political institutions published in 2014, Political Institutions Section, LASA

“Political Corruption and Partisan Engagement: Evidence from Brazil” (with Matthew S. Winters) Journal of Politics in Latin America, April 2015

“Lacking Information or Condoning Corruption: When Do Voters Support Corrupt Politicians?” (with Matthew S. Winters) Comparative Politics, 45:4, 2013.

“What Wins Votes: Why Some Politicians Opt Out of Clientelism” American Journal of Political Science, 56:3, 2012. (Sage Prize for Best Paper in Comparative Politics presented at the 2011 APSA Annual Meeting)

“The Link Between Voting and Life Satisfaction in Latin America” (with Matthew S. Winters) Latin American Politics and Society 53:4, 2011.

“Why Primaries in Latin American Presidential Elections?" (with Ozge Kemahlioglu and Shigeo Hirano) Journal of Politics 71:1, 2009

“The Local Connection: Local Government Performance and Satisfaction with

Democracy in Argentina,” Comparative Political Studies, 41:3, 2008 (Best paper award from the Latin American Political Institutions Section (LAPIS) at the 2006 Latin American Studies Association Congress)