My research has focused on the politics of social provision in the US and Western Europe. I first became interested in this topic as a graduate student at Princeton University where coursework in American social policy, the comparative politics of the welfare state, and European history opened my eyes to the startling differences in how wealthy nations provide for the care and well-being of their citizenry. My dissertation pursued this question from a particular angle—varying systems of child care provision—in France and the US, and examined these two cases in both a historical perspective and within a larger sample of western countries. Building on this, I wrote a book about differences in child care, parental leave, and other work-family policies in France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United States. Other work has examined these policies in a broader array of advanced industrialized countries. I began turning my attention towards health care policy and politics thanks to a postdoctoral program run by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Between 2001 and 2003, I was a fellow in the Foundation's Scholars in Health Policy Program at Yale University. During this time, I studied the issue of social care through another lens—how different societies provide long-term care services for their aging populations. In a comparative study of the United States and Germany, I explored the role of federalism in shaping these two countries' diverging responses to a similar policy challenge in the late 1980s.This research, done in collaboration with Andrea Louise Campbell (Dept. of Political Science, MIT), also marked the start of an on-going research partnership with Campbell. Together, we applied for and received an investigators' award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as a National Science Foundation grant, to study the politics of a more recent social policy reform—the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.We have approached this reform from our respective strengths—me as a student of elite-level decision-making, and she was a student of mass political behavior and public opinion. While I have sought to reconstruct the origins and passage of this reform through interviews and a variety of primary and secondary sources, she has conducted and analyzed a survey of Medicare beneficiaries that examines how this measure has affected their lives, political opinions, and political behavior. Working together, we are able to explore the interplay of elite and mass politics around one of the most significant social policy reforms of recent years.


B.A. (1992) Northwestern University M.A. (1996) Princeton University; Ph.D. (2001) Princeton University


  • Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, The George Washington University, 2003-present
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Scholars in Health Policy Research, Yale University, 2001-03
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of French Studies, New York University, 2000-01


Social policy (US, Western Europe); health policy and politics; European politics; family policy

Project Summary

On December 8, 2003, President Bush signed into law the largest increase in social spending since the Great Society—the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) that added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The bill also sought to change the governance of the Medicare program by increasing the role of private insurance companies in delivering benefits. This project explores the origins, passage, and consequences of this reform for both Medicare beneficiaries and the politics of American health policy. The study examines the MMA within the context of both recent efforts to promote market-based reforms of federal entitlements and the long history of "complex governance" of the American welfare state.

Major Publications

  • Working Women and the Welfare State: Religion and the Politics of Work-Family Policies in Western Europe and the United States (Stanford University Press, 2006).
  • "The Politics of Mothers' Employment: France in Comparative Perspective," World Politics 55, 2 (January 2003): 259-89.
  • "Financing the Welfare State: Elite Politics and the Decline of the Social Insurance Model in America," co-authored with Andrea Campbell, Studies in American Political Development 19, 2 (Fall 2005): 173-95.