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Aksel Sundström

Senior Lecturer

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

About Aksel Sundström

Associate professor (docent) and senior lecturer.

Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford (Department of Politics and International Relations), spring 2022.

Sundström has two major research interests; 1) the relationship between corruption and effective 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.

Besides a focus on comparative politics, he has wide experience of field research work in South Africa. His dissertation studied the problem of local bribery among officials in natural resource governance (example of articles from the PhD thesis in the journals Global Environmental Change and Public Administration).

Leads a project that investigates to what extent the establishment of protected areas in African countries has effects on local corruption. Also works with a project studying nature reserves that extend across national borders. A related project will examine the effects of the increasingly militarized style of conservation governance in the region. He has received funding from the Swedish Research Council for several projects, both as main applicant and co-applicant.

Conducted a year-long stay in 2017-2018 as a Democracy Fellow at Harvard University, supported by the SRC postdoc program.

Sundström has recently written a book titled Youth without representation, which examines young adults’ absence as candidates, legislators and ministers around the world (with Daniel Stockemer). It is coming out with the University of Michigan Press, due in late 2022.

He is responsible for developing the Quality of Government datasets and overseeing the work of the QoG data team.

In charge of the political science track within the Programme in Environmental Social Science (SMIL) at the School of Business, Economics and Law.

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).

In several outputs, Sundström 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 related work in progress, see paper here on public support for female leaders across Africa. For a full list of publications, see CV.


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.


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).