Aksel Sundström

Senior Lecturer

Department of Political Science
Visiting address
Sprängkullsgatan 19
41123 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 711
40530 Göteborg

About Aksel Sundström

Aksel Sundström is an associate professor (docent) and senior lecturer.

He was a Democracy Fellow at Harvard University 2017-2018 and a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford, the spring 2022.

Sundström is responsible for developing the Quality of Government (QoG) Institute datasets and overseeing the work of the QoG data team, an open data platform on corruption and other societal indicators.

He was recently awarded an ERC Starting Grant, which will fund the project Female Leaders and African Droughts (Fem-LEAD).

Sundström has two major research interests; 1) the study of environmental politics, especially in low-income countries, and 2) the study of political representation, focusing on the absence of women and youth in political institutions.

Within the larger theme of environmental politics, Sundström examines a host of issues: He works with several projects funded by the Swedish Research Council that study different political dimensions of protected nature reserves in African countries. Besides a focus on comparative politics, he has wide experience of field research work in South Africa and neighboring countries. His dissertation studied the problem of corruption and local bribery among officials in natural resource governance (example of articles in Global Environmental Change and Public Administration).

Within the theme of political representation, Sundström studies a number of knowledge gaps. In several outputs, he has developed the insights on how to measure and understand processes around women's political presence and rights across the world. Together with colleagues in the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project, he has launched the 'Women's Political Empowerment Index', a set of data that is free for the public to download and use (see also Sundström et al. 2017). For an example of work on public support for female leaders across Africa, see article in Public Opinion Quarterly.

He recently published the book Youth without Representation, which examines the low presence of young adults as candidates and politicians around the world (University of Michigan Press). The book (written with Daniel Stockemer) is the first to tackle this problem and, as it has been selected for an open access initiative, it is free to download.

His research has been published in a range of outlets, including; Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Governance, Party Politics and World Development (see Google Scholar).

Sundström supervises several PhD-candidates. He is in charge of the political science track within the Programme in Environmental Social Science (SMIL) at the School of Business, Economics and Law.

For a full list of publications, see CV.

Selection of work in progress:

Drought and Political Trust” with P. Ahlerup, S. Jagers and M. Sjöstedt (see University of Gothenburg Department of Economics Working Paper no. 832). Invited for revisions.

The Impact from Corruption on Climate Change Mitigation” with N. Harring, S. Jagers and M. Povitkina (see QoG Working Paper no 2024:3). Under review.

“The Ethnic Politics of Nature Protection: Ethnic Favoritism and Protected Areas in Africa” with S. Dawson, F. Haass (Oslo) and C. Müller-Crepon (LSE). In preparation.

“When Elders Rule: Age Composition in Decision-Making and Legitimacy Perceptions” with C. McClean (Yale) and D. Stockemer (Ottawa). In preparation.

“Accountability and ownership of resources: an experiment in Peru” with M. Alvarado, T. Ahmed and S. Jagers. In preparation.

“Global public opinion to expanding protected areas to 2030: conjoint experiments on attitudes to goal conflicts in conservation” with P. Michaelsen and S. Jagers. In preparation.

For more information, see personal webpage:


PhD, Political Science, University of Gothenburg, 2015.

Visiting scholar at the University of Michigan, Spring 2015.

Courses during PhD-program at universities in Oxford, Michigan (the ICPSR programme), Keele, Ljubljana and Vienna.

Spent one undergraduate semester at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


Winner of the First-time Voter Award 2023, with D. Stockemer, for work on youth inclusion in electoral affairs in 2022 (the book Youth Without Representation and the WARP Dataset), awarded by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies.

ERC Starting Grant, 2023.

Nominated by University of Gothenburg to the 2019 Pro Futura program – Riksbankens Jubileumsfond’s effort to promote cutting-edge research in humanities and social sciences.

Shared third-prize in the essay competetion Intergenerational Justice Prize 2018 (with Daniel Stockemer).

Nominated to Elsevier's Atlas award for article in World Development (Sundström et al. 2017), August 2017.

Young sustainability talent 2016, a recognition given to 33 persons in Sweden by the magazine Aktuell Hållbarhet.

The 2016 Eva Selin Lindgren memorial scholarship (given annualy to one researcher at Chalmers or GU).

Received the "best paper" prize at the Swedish Political Science Association’s meeting 2014.


Work experience as a journalist, foreign affairs reporting (example here).