Christopher Witko

Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

Connect with Christopher

About Christopher

Witko's research focuses on how public policies shape and respond to economic outcomes like unemployment and inequality, and how the public and organized interests influence public policy. His most recent book is Hijacking the Agenda: Economic Power and Political Influence.


How the U.S. States are Tackling Inequality – and What More Can be Done

  • William W. Franko

How Roadblocks to Voting Make Income Inequality Worse

  • William W. Franko
  • Nathan J. Kelly

In the News

Opinion: "The U.S. Tax System Is Grossly Unfair to the Middle Class," Christopher Witko, Penn Live, Patriot - News, April 18, 2022.
Opinion: "What’s Stopping Congress From Raising the Minimum Wage," Christopher Witko (with Jana Morgan), The Hill, July 20, 2021.
Quoted by Michael Hobbes in "Partisanship Is Making Americans Vote for Things They Don’t Actually Want," Huffpost, November 12, 2020.
Opinion: "Your Most Important Assignment: Vote!," Christopher Witko (with Candis Watts Smith), Onward State, September 25, 2020.
Opinion: "How Wall Street Became a Big Chunk of the U.S. Economy - and when the Democrats Signed On," Christopher Witko, The Washington Post , March 29, 2016.
Research discussed by Sean McElwee, in "For the Effects of Voting, Look to Policy, Not Elections," Demos, March 27, 2015.
Research discussed by Sean McElwee, in "If Everyone Voted, Progressives Would Win," Al Jazeera America, March 17, 2015.
Opinion: "Financialization is More Rapid When Interested Sectors are More Active in Politics and Unions and the Democratic Party are Weaker," Christopher Witko, London School of Economics American Politics Blog, January 23, 2015.
Research discussed by Sean McElwee, in "The 1% are More Likely to Vote than the Poor or the Middle Class, and It Matters - a Lot," Vox, October 24, 2014.
Opinion: "Democrats, Those with Low Income, and Those Concerned with Inequality are Likely to Support 'Robin Hood' Tax Policies," Christopher Witko, London School of Economics American Politics Blog, December 10, 2013.
Opinion: "What Makes a Public University System World Class?," Christopher Witko, The San Francisco Chronicle, August 4, 2006.
Opinion: "What California Offers Business," Christopher Witko, The Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2004.


"Class Bias in Voter Turnout and Income Inequality," (with William W. Franko and Nathan J. Kelly), Auburn University, University of Tennessee, and University of South Carolina, October 31, 2013.
Examines how an increasing gap in voter turnout between the rich and poor has contributed to growing income inequality in the U.S.
"Does Breastfeeding Contribute to the Racial Gap in Reading and Math Test Scores?" (with Kristen Peters, Jin Huang, and Michael G. Vaughn). Annals of Epidemiology 23, no. 10 (2013): 646-651.
Finds that differential rates of breastfeeding between black and white mothers can explain 17 percent and 9 percent of the gap in black-white reading and math test scores, respectively, later in childhood.
"Inequality, Self-Interest and Public Support for “Robin Hood” Tax Policies" (with William W. Franko and Caroline Tolbert). Political Research Quarterly 66, no. 4 (2013): 922-936.
Examines how one's economic position and attitudes toward income inequality influence public support for redistributive taxation.
"Federalism and American Inequality" (with Nathan J. Kelly). Journal of Politics 74, no. 2 (2012): 414-426.

Finds that when both state and federal governments are controlled by left-leaning parties inequality is lower, and that the minimum wage is a jointly controlled policy affecting income inequality in the states.

"Campaign Contributions, Access and Government Contracting" Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 21, no. 4 (2011): 761-778.
Discovers that firms that donated more money to federal candidates received a larger number of government contracts from 1979-2006.
"PACs, Issue Context and Congressional Decision-Making" Political Research Quarterly 59, no. 2 (2006): 283-295.
Finds that on highly salient and ideological issues campaign contributions do not influence roll call voting, but do influence the amount of effort that members of Congress devote to particular issues, while the opposite is true for non-salient, non-partisan issues.