Kristen Kao


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

About Kristen Kao

Kristen Kao received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a Senior Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. Kristen is an expert in survey methodology and experimental design in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa contexts.

Her most recently funded projects include a multi-method, comparative study of the integration of Syrian migrants into Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden over 6 years; a study on the drivers of forgiveness versus revenge among diverse groups in Iraq employing 3 large-N surveys and experiments; and surveys in East Africa examining the interaction between social institutions and local governance across issues of authority and legitimacy, vote buying and clientelism, as well as stereotypes and inequalities. You can find out more about her work on her website at

In 2019, her research on post-conflict reconciliation in Iraq received the Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha award for the best paper presented at the American Political Science Association (APSA) annual meeting, the largest annual gathering of political scientists in the world. She has published work on conflict, ethnic clientelism, non-state authorities, and electoral institutions in the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, World Development, Mediterranean Politics, the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, Survey Practice, the Oxford Handbook of Politics in Muslim Societies, The Washington Post, and Carnegie’s Sada, among others. Her research has received funding from the US National Science Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, Riksbankens Jubilieumsfond, the Social Science Research Council, and APSA among others. She has also been a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt.

In her free time Kristen enjoys playing competitive beach volleyball, cooking (and eating) new types of food, and learning languages.