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Paul Pierson

Affiliated Scholar

Paul Pierson is professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Avice Saint Chair in Public Policy. Before taking this position in 2004, he was professor of government at Harvard University, where he taught from 1988 to 2004.

Pierson’s first book, Dismantling the Welfare State? (1994), won the American Political Science Association’s Kammerer Prize for the best book published on American national politics and policy in 1994. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious fellowships, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, and a Russell Sage Foundation Fellowship.

Professor Pierson’s work concentrates on comparative public policy, political economy, and the welfare state. His writing has appeared in Politics and Society, Comparative Political Studies, and Governance. Pierson is currently working on two books on long-term changes in the American political system. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Major Works:


  • Politics in Time: History, Institutions and Social Analysis. (Manuscript in progress.)
  • Offcenter: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. Yale, 2005.
  • The New Politics of the Welfare State (Ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • European Social Policy: Between Fragmentation and Integration. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1995. Edited with Stephan Leibfried. [German translation published by Suhrkamp Verlag]
  • Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher and the Politics of Retrenchment. Cambridge University Press, 1994.


  • "Business Power and Social Policy: Employers and the Formation of the American Welfare State," Politics and Society, forthcoming (June 2002). Co-authored by Jacob Hacker.
  • "The Limits of Design: Explaining Institutional Origins and Change," Governance, Vol. 13, No. 4, October, 2000.
  • "Three Worlds of Welfare State Research," Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 33, No. 6/7, August/September, 2000, pp. 791-821.
  • "Path Dependence, Increasing Returns, and the Study of Politics," American Political Science Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, June, 2000, pp. 251-67.

Appearances: Center for American Progress Radio, FreshAir