Paul Pierson

Paul Pierson

John Gross Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

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About Paul

Pierson’s research focuses on the politics of public policymaking, with a particular concentration on social welfare programs and tax policies both in the United States and other affluent democracies. His recent scholarship has centered on the role of organized business interests in the formation of American public policy. He regularly speaks to policymakers as well as to civic groups in California, Oregon and Washington.


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In the News

"The New Blue Divide," Paul Pierson (with Jacob S. Hacker), Boston Review, February 28, 2024.
Paul Pierson quoted by Julia Curley, "Guest Speaker Puts Personal Spin on 'Hamilton' During Political Lecture" The Cornell Daily Sun, February 11, 2018.
Paul Pierson quoted by Linda B. Glaser, "Lecture Series to Examine 'The Difficulty of Democracy'" Cornell Chronicle, January 31, 2018.
"Don't Dismantle Government - Fix It," Paul Pierson (with Jacob S. Hacker), The American Prospect, April 1, 2016.
"Clinton’s Bold Vision, Hidden in Plain Sight?," Paul Pierson (with Jacob S. Hacker), New York Times, March 17, 2016.
"The Real Cause of the Flint Crisis," Paul Pierson (with Jacob S. Hacker), The Atlantic, March 7, 2016.
Paul Pierson quoted on money in elections by Sean McElwee, "The Democratic Primary’s Ugly Truth: Hillary vs. Bernie Doesn’t Matter until We Change Our Electoral System" Salon, October 19, 2015.
Paul Pierson quoted on America's extreme right by David Roberts, "Tech Nerds are Smart. But They Can't Seem to Get Their Heads around Politics." Vox, August 27, 2015.
Paul Pierson quoted on the ACA as a "starter home" law by Dylan Matthews, "Barack Obama is Officially One of the Most Consequential Presidents in American History" Vox, June 26, 2015.
Paul Pierson quoted on median voter theorem by Lee Drutman, "Can Unlimited Contributions to Political Parties Really Reduce Polarization?" The Washington Post, June 23, 2015.
"No Cost for Extremism: Why the GOP Hasn't (Yet) Paid for Its March to the Right," Paul Pierson (with Jacob Hacker), The American Prospect, Spring 2015.
Paul Pierson quoted on support for the G.O.P. in an era of runaway inequality by Thomas B. Edsall, "ObamaCare, Hands off My Medicare" New York Times, April 22, 2015.
"Can Business Govern America?," Paul Pierson, Rebroadcast of talk to Eugene City Club, KLCC (Eugene, Oregon), March 7, 2012.
"Romney is the Right Man for America. George Romney, That Is," Paul Pierson (with Jacob Hacker), Washington Post Outlook, February 10, 2012.
"Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on Engineered Inequality," Paul Pierson, Interview with Bill Moyers, Moyers and Company, January 13, 2012.
"The Wisconsin Union Fight isn’t about Benefits. It’s about Labor’s Influence," Paul Pierson (with Jacob Hacker), Washington Post Outlook, March 4, 2011.
"Inside the Wealth Conspiracy," Paul Pierson (with Jacob Hacker), Bloomberg News, November 22, 2010.
"For the Good of Democracy, Tax Cuts for the Rich Must Expire," Paul Pierson (with Jacob Hacker), Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2010.
"The GOP’s American Vision: Off Center," Paul Pierson, Interview with Terri Gross, NPR's Fresh Air, December 1, 2005.


"American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper" (with Jacob S. Hacker) (Simon and Schuster, 2016).

Explains how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. Traces the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.

"Drift and Democracy: The Neglected Politics of Policy Inaction," (with Jacob Hacker), working paper presented to the Working Group for Institutional Change, January 31, 2011.
Looks at the failure in many areas of public policy to update a policy in the midst of major social changes that causes its effects to shift substantially.
"Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class " (with Jacob Hacker) (Simon-Schuster, 2010, paperback 2011).
Investigates the political and financial forces that have undermined the economic well-being of the middle class over the last three decades.
"The Case for Policy-Focused Political Analysis," (with Jacob Hacker), paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, August 31, 2009.
Argues that the marginalization of policy analysis has been detrimental to the recent development of American political science.
"The Transformation of American Politics: Activist Government and the Rise of Conservatism " (Princeton University Press, 2007).
Co-edited with Theda Skocpol, this volume explores how the substantial expansion of federal domestic policy in the 1960s and 1970s helped shape the polarized politics we experience today.
"Off-Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy " (with Jacob Hacker) (Yale University Press, 2005).
Argues that many of the dysfunctional aspects of contemporary American democracy can be traced in part to the sharp rightward drift of the Republican Party.