Paru R. Shah

Professor of Political Science and Senior Scholar, Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

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About Paru

Shah’s research examines the politics and policy consequences of racial and ethnic minority office holding, most often in cities and school districts. Her work addresses questions of where and when minority candidates run for office, when they win, and the policy outputs and relationships to constituents. Her current research agenda focuses on racial and ethnic candidate emergence and political ambition. She serves as an elected school board member in Shorewood, Wisconsin.

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In the News

Opinion: "Efforts To Suppress Voting Are on the Rise. Here’s How We Got Here. And Here’s How We Can Stop Them," Paru R. Shah, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, September 7, 2021.
Quoted by Sean McElwee in "Ferguson's Municipal Elections Show That Voter Turnout Matters," Demos, April 9, 2015.
Opinion: "A Tipping Point for Ethnic Minorities?," Paru R. Shah, The Conversation, November 6, 2014.
Opinion: "Too Few Minority Politicians? You Can’t Win if You Don’t Run," Paru R. Shah, The Conversation, October 31, 2014.
Guest on WPR’s “The Kathleen Dunn Show”, November 7, 2013.
Research discussed by Daniel Strauss, in "How the Voting Rights Act Helped Elect More Black Politicians in Cities," Talking Points Memo, October 7, 2013.
Guest on WPR’s “The Kathleen Dunn Show”, October 17, 2012.


"It Takes a Black Candidate: A Supply-Side Theory of Minority Representation" Political Research Quarterly 67, no. 2 (2014): 266-279.
Examines in a new way the continued under-representation of racial minorities from elected office. Finds that key demographic and institutional factors inhibit the likelihood of black candidates running for office, and concludes that the representation gap is a supply, rather than demand, issue.
"Are We There Yet? The Voting Rights Act and Black Representation on City Councils, 1981-2006" (with Melissa Marschall and Anirudh Ruhil). Journal of Politics 75, no. 4 (2013): 933-1008.
Compares covered and uncovered cities between 1981 and 2006, and demonstrates the continued importance of the Voting Rights Act in ensuring minority representation.
"The Centrality of Racial and Ethnic Politics in American Cities and Towns" (with Melissa Marschall), in Oxford Handbook on Local Politics, edited by Susan Clarke, Peter John and Karen Mossberger (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Describes the new racial and ethnic landscape across America, and reviews the literature on race and representation, the implications of minority office-holding in local politics, and the influence of context on racial attitudes and behaviors.
"Motivating Participation: Estimating the Impact of Symbolic Representation on Latino Parent Involvement" Social Science Quarterly 90, no. 1 (2009): 212-230.

Finds that fostering effective parent-school partnerships is facilitated by Latino representation in both governance (school boards) and school administration (principals and teachers). That is, Latino parents participate more in school activities and decision-making when there are Latino school administrators present, supporting previous theories of symbolic representation.

"The Attitudinal Effects of Minority Incorporation: Examining the Racial Dimensions of Trust in Urban America" (with Melissa Marschall). Urban Affairs Review 42, no. 5 (2007): 629-658.
Disentangles the relationship between descriptive representation within the police force and political trust, on the one hand, and descriptive representation and policing policies on the other hand.