Andrea Louise Campbell

Department Head and Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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About Andrea

Campbell’s research focuses on public opinion, political participation, and public policy, with a particular interest in social policy and political inequality. Current projects include an examination of Americans’ attitudes toward taxes over time, and a study of the impact of the Great Recession on the fifty states that asks why some states faced greater fiscal crises than others and how policy choices varied. Campbell speaks to community groups, writes for think tanks, and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences commission on the Fiscal Future of the United States


America's Low Taxes in Comparative Perspective

Using the Private Sector to Deliver Public Benefits

  • Kimberly Morgan

In the News

"Why the U.S. Tax System is so Complicated — but Americans are Proud to Pay Taxes Anyway," Vanessa Williamson (with Andrea Louise Campbell), Interview with John Sides, The Washington Post, April 12, 2018.
"Has Child Care Policy Finally Come of Age?," Andrea Louise Campbell, American Prospect, May 22, 2015.
Andrea Louise Campbell quoted on the decentralization of social programs by Eric Patashnik, "Five Key Lessons about the Welfare State" The Washington Post, April 6, 2015.
"What Happens When Your Pregnant Sister-in-Law is Paralyzed in an Accident — And Has No Insurance," Andrea Louise Campbell, Interview with Harold Pollack, The Washington Post, November 23, 2014.
Andrea Louise Campbell's research on America's social-insurance and -assistance programs discussed by John S. Rosenberg, "Ensnared," Harvard Magazine, October 1, 2014.
"Getting Poor to Get Help: How a Tragic Accident Trapped My Family in Poverty," Andrea Louise Campbell, Time, September 23, 2014.
Guest to discuss the undertaxation of America as compared to other industrialized countries on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Andrea Louise Campbell, August 20, 2012.
"Down the Insurance Rabbit Hole," Andrea Louise Campbell, New York Times, April 4, 2012.
"Why Seniors Like Traditional Medicare," Andrea Louise Campbell, Room for Debate , New York Times, April 5, 2011.


"America the Undertaxed: U.S. Fiscal Policy in Perspective" Foreign Affairs 91, no. 5 (September/October 2012): 99-112.
Seeks to better understand current polarized narratives behind the respective fiscal policy platforms espoused by the two major U.S. parties by viewing the American tax system in the context of other developed countries. Finds that, compared to other nations, the U.S. model collects little revenue, poorly redistributes that revenue, and is overly complex.
"Reassessing the Conventional Wisdom: Entitlements from the Inside" The Forum 13, no. 1 (2015): 105-118.
Examines the conventional wisdom around U.S. social policy. Suggests that more qualitative and ethnographic approaches are needed for social policy, as well as examinations of the interactions among multiple programs and their complicated and often contradictory rules.
"The Durability of Pierson’s Theory about the Durability of the Welfare State" PS: Political Science & Politics 48, no. 2 (2015): 284-288.
Analyzes the different theories of welfare state spending as discussed in Paul Pierson’s "Dismantling the Welfare State."
"Trapped in America's Safety Net: One Family's Struggle" (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
Traces the author's brother's family’s Dickensian odyssey through America’s health insurance and other social insurance programs. Reveals the many shortcomings and inequities of America social policy that leave people exposed to tremendous risk.
"The Delegated Welfare State: Medicare, Markets, and the Governance of Social Policy" (with Kimberly J. Morgan) (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Illuminates how many U.S. social policies are not run directly by government, but instead delegated to non-profit organizations, for-profit firms, and even to consumers themselves. Using the Medicare Part D prescription drug program as a case study exemplifying all three kinds of indirect administration, this book examine the implications of delegation for program effectiveness, fraud and abuse, and accountability.
"Paying America’s Way: The Fraught Politics of Taxes, Investments, and Budgetary Responsibility" in Reaching for a New Deal: Ambitious Governance, Economic Meltdown, and Polarized Politics in Obama's First Two Years, edited by Theda Skocpol and Larry Jacobs (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011), 386-421.
Examines how the invisibility of Obama administration policies to deal with the Great Recession along with historically low trust in government undermined efforts to address economic inequality and reorient the tax burden to fall more heavily on the rich.
"Social Security: Political Resilience in the Face of Conservative Strides" (with Ryan King), in The New Politics of Old-Age Policy, 2nd edition, edited by Robert Hudson (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 233-253.
Shows how public skepticism and lack of support among Congressional Republicans defeated George W. Bush’s second-term push to privatize Social Security.
"What Americans Think of Taxes" in The New Fiscal Sociology, edited by Monica Prasad, Isaac Martin, and Ajay Mehrotra (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 48-67.
Examines the politicization of taxes over time, showing that heightened elite rhetoric beginning in the 1970s captured public attention and increased the impact of attitudes toward taxes on voting and public views of the political parties.
"Financing the Welfare State: Elite Politics and the Decline of the Social Insurance Model in America" (with Kimberly J. Morgan). Studies in American Political Development 19, no. 2 (2005): 173-95.

Argues that the payroll tax has been fiscally successful and unusually popular, but once criticized by policymakers on both the right and left, it has become less credible as a means for broadly funding the nation’s long-term social programs or meeting new demands for social protections.

"How Policies Make Citizens: Senior Citizen Activism and the American Welfare State" (Princeton University Press, 2003).
Shows how the growth of Social Security helped transform U.S. senior citizens from the least to the most politically active age group – by giving them income and free time to facilitate participation, along with a tangible stake in public policy and a shared identity allowing mobilization by political parties and interest groups such as the AARP.