PhD researchers in Political Economy

PhD researchers in Political Economy

Published Deadline Location
21 Jan 15 Mar Leiden

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Leiden University, the institute of Political Science of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for two PhD researchers in Political Economy

Job description

The researchers will work on the `Micro-foundations of Debt Crises’ project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and led by Dr. Matthew DiGiuseppe. This project takes a bottom-up approach to understanding the political roots of government debt crises. It proposes that in order to understand why governments borrow excessively and experience crises, we must first understand what citizens are thinking (or not thinking) about debt policy. Citizens’ preferences are the cornerstone of political theories because they inform policymakers’ incentives. Yet, no studies have systematically examined why citizens in some countries are willing to take steps before a crisis to reduce government debt while others ignore warnings and reward political inaction.

This project pursues two successive objectives. First, the project will conduct the first comprehensive analysis of individual-level preferences for debt reduction before a crisis. It will develop and test multiple hypotheses that seek to explain which elements of society are (un)supportive of debt reduction policies, what rational or irrational factors motivate their decisions, and how stable these preferences are to manipulation by elites. The analysis centers around original and innovative multi-country survey experiments that elicit the character and stability of preferences for debt reduction. The project’s second phase uses these insights to connect the micro to the macro. By understanding which groups of citizens are motivated by which material factors or cognitive biases, we will develop new theories explaining how the distribution of these groups across countries, and their interaction with institutions, influence political decisions and ultimately affect the risk of sovereign debt crises.

The researchers in the two positions will focus on understanding how the preferences and behavior of citizens and creditors shape incentives for political action to either reduce or heighten the risk of a sovereign debt crisis. The students will work closely with Dr. DiGiuseppe and a post-doc to develop projects related to the micro-foundations of sovereign debt crises and carry out the deliverables outlined in the grant proposal. While they will work on project related tasks, the students will also have the autonomy to pursue their own research questions if they are related to the project’s aim. 

Key responsibilities

  • Conduct research and write a PhD dissertation;
  • Undertake relevant coursework and other training including a methods summer/winter course;
  • Participate in PhD program activities and the general intellectual life of the Institute.


Leiden University


  • A Master’s degree in Political Science or in a cognate discipline with an evident interest in political science;
  • Familiarity with quantitative methods (especially survey design and causal inference) or a strong desire to learn advanced quantitative methods;
  • A substantive interest in the political economy of sovereign debt, international/comparative political economy, public opinion, or political behavior;
  • An excellent command of English;
  • Excellent study results and academic skills, visible in the Bachelors and Masters course transcripts.
  • Strong critical thinking and writing skills, visible in the writing sample;
  • The ability to work independently, and as part of a team.

Conditions of employment

The position starts in September 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter. If accepted, the candidates will initially be appointed for a period of one year. The contract may be prolonged with an additional two to three years. Salary range from € 2.325 to € 2.972 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the collective employment agreement of Dutch universities). 

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. 

Leiden University requires teaching staff to obtain the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ). If the successful applicant does not already  possess this qualification or its equivalent, he/ she must be willing to obtain this qualification within two years.


Leiden University

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises four institutes: education and child studies, political science, psychology and cultural anthropology & development sociology. The Faculty also includes the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour.

The Institute of Political Science is consistently one of the top-ranked departments of its kind in Europe. It has over 80 academic staff, including many non-Dutch scholars, and houses a number of editorships of international refereed journals. Members of the institute are also involved in a number of the university’s multi-disciplinary research centres, including Central and East European Studies, International Relations, Parties and Representation, and Political Philosophy. The Institute is based in Leiden but also teaches at the university’s campus in The Hague (12 minutes away by train).

The Institute offers a range of programmes at the Bachelor and Master levels and also trains PhD students in political science. The BSc programmes include general Political Science (in Dutch & English, in Leiden), International Politics (in Dutch & English, in Leiden), and International Relations and Organisations (in English, in The Hague). The MSc programme (taught mostly in English) includes four specialisations taught in Leiden (International Politics; Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict; Parties, Parliaments and Democracy; Political Legitimacy and Justice) and two specialisations taught in The Hague (International Organisation; Dutch Politics).


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society; Economics
  • 36—38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • 20-025



Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK, Leiden

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