Sarah Bush

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University
Areas of Expertise:
  • Policy in Other Countries
  • U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Women

Connect with Sarah

About Sarah

Bush studies the nature and consequences of international democracy promotion as well as human rights and gender politics around the world with a particular focus on the Middle East. Her recent projects include a book on the evolution of foreign aid programs supporting democracy since the end of the Cold War. Bush was previously the co-executive director of Americans for Informed Democracy, a non-partisan organization that trained more than 20,000 youth members to tackle social challenges from climate change to American relations with the Muslim world.




"When and Why is Civil Society Support ‘Made-in-America’? Delegation to Non-State Actors in American Democracy Promotion" Review of International Organizations (2015).
Shows that in the countries where aid officials worry most about ensuring that democracy aid supports other U.S. policy objectives - namely, countries that are important for U.S. foreign policy - they will fund American NGOs relatively more.
"Anti-Americanism, Authoritarian Politics, and Attitudes about Women's Representation: Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Jordan" (with Amaney A. Jamal). International Studies Quarterly 59, no. 1 (2015): 34-45.
Argues that an American endorsement of women in politics has no average effect on popular support for women's representation and that domestic patterns of support and opposition to autocrats determine citizens' receptivity to policy endorsements, with policy endorsements of foreign-supported reforms polarizing public opinion.
The Taming of Democracy Assistance: Why Democracy Promotion Does Not Confront Dictators (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Focuses on the survival instincts of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that design and implement democracy assistance. Argues that NGOs seek out tamer types of aid, especially as they become more professional. Provides new understanding of foreign influence and moral actors in world politics, with policy implications for democracy in the Middle East.
"Confront or Conform? Rethinking U.S. Democracy Assistance," Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), February 28, 2013.
Explores recent shifts in the nature of U.S. government-funded democracy assistance programs that have made them less likely to confront autocratic governments and more focused on measurable outputs, and gives recommendations on how to avoid these pitfalls and engender more positive outcomes.
"International Politics and the Spread of Quotas for Women in Legislatures" International Organization 65, no. 1 (2011): 103-137.
Shows that developing countries adopt quotas requiring women’s representing in politics in response to international pressure. Suggests that democracy promotion can succeed at changing countries’ political institutions, but raises questions about whether quotas can ultimately improve women’s substantive representation when they lack domestic support.
"The Democracy Establishment," PhD dissertation, Princeton University, November 2011.
Examines how and why the United States and other developed countries turned to democracy promotion at the end of the Cold War and what the impact of doing so has been on the conduct of politics in developing countries across the world.

In the News

"Should We Trust Democracy Ratings? New Research Finds Hidden Biases.," Sarah Bush, The Washington Post, November 7, 2017.
"Americans Knew about Russia’s Election Meddling – Here’s What That Might Mean for Future U.S. Elections," Sarah Bush (with Lauren Prather), Political Violence at a Glance, July 27, 2017.
"What Trump’s Foreign Aid Cuts Would Mean for Global Democracy," Sarah Bush, The Conversation, April 9, 2017.
"Democracy Promotion is Failing. Here’s Why.," Sarah Bush, The Washington Post, November 9, 2015.
Interview on democracy assistanceSarah Bush, Project on Middle East Political Science, May 7, 2015.
"Promoting Democracy in Tunisia," Sarah Bush, fifteeneightyfour, March 16, 2015.
Regular contributionsSarah Bush to Political Violence at a Glance Blog.
"Does Western Pressure for Gender Equality Help?," Sarah Bush (with Amaney A. Jamal), The Washington Post, July 30, 2014.
Sarah Bush's research on international democracy promotion discussed in Jordan Michael SmithSarah Bush, "The U.S. Democracy Project," The National Interest, May 1, 2013.
"Are We Repeating Democracy Promotion Mistakes?," Sarah Bush, Foreign Policy, July 9, 2012.