Sarah F. Anzia

Michelle J. Schwartz Assistant Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

About Sarah

Anzia studies American politics with a focus on state and local government, elections, interest groups, political parties, and public policy. Her recent work examines how the timing of elections can be manipulated to affect both voter turnout and the composition of the electorate, which, in turn, affects election outcomes and public policy. She also studies the role of government employees and public sector unions in elections and policymaking in the U.S. In addition, she has written about the politics of public pensions, women in politics, the historical development of electoral institutions, and the power of political party leaders in state legislatures.

In the News

Sarah F. Anzia quoted on impact of rising unemployment among young workers by Anna Almendrala, "Almost a Third of Young People Have Lost Their Jobs So Far" VICE, April 6, 2020.
Sarah F. Anzia quoted on public pensions by Adam Ashton, "CalPERS Beats Earnings Target for First Time in Three Years" Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2017.
Alan E. Wiseman quoted on women in office by Matthew Yglesias, "A Hillary Clinton Presidency Will Greatly Boost Women's Representation in Politics, with Big Policy Consequences" Vox, June 6, 2016.
Sarah F. Anzia's research on voter turnout and off-cycle elections discussed by Eitan Hersh, "How Democrats Suppress the Vote," FiveThirtyEight, November 3, 2015.
Sarah F. Anzia's research on public pensions discussed by Daniel Borenstein, "On Pensions, Labor is Driven by Political Considerations Rather than Actuarial Calculations," Contra Costa Times, July 24, 2015.
Sarah F. Anzia's research on the effects of election timing discussed by Catherine Saillant, "Effort Would Consolidate L.A. Elections with State and Federal Voting," Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2015.
Sarah F. Anzia's research on public sector unions discussed by Scott Stinson, "Labour’s $4B Election Fund: Unions Free to Spend Compulsory Dues on Political Activities," National Post, June 6, 2014.
Sarah F. Anzia's research on the effects of seniority-based transfer rules discussed by Stephen Sawchuk, "Are Contracts to Blame for Teacher-Quality Gaps," Education Week, April 15, 2014.
Sarah F. Anzia's research on election timing discussed by Anna Sale, "Why Don’t New Yorkers Vote?," WNYC News, April 18, 2013.


"Public Sector Unions and the Costs of Government" (with Terry M. Moe). Journal of Politics 77, no. 1 (2015): 114-127.
Explores the effects of public sector unions and collective bargaining on several government cost outcomes: expenditures on salaries, expenditures on fringe benefits, and employment.
"Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups" (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
Systemically addresses the effects of election timing on political outcomes, arguing that low turnout for off-cycle elections increases the influence of organized interest groups like teachers’ unions and municipal workers.
"Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, and Disadvantaged Schools" (with Terry M. Moe). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 36, no. 1 (2014): 83-111.
Focuses on key provisions of collective bargaining agreements – seniority-based transfer rights – that affect teacher assignments, showing that these transfer rights burden disadvantaged schools with higher percentages of inexperienced teachers.
"Partisan Power Play: The Origins of Election Timing as an American Political Institution" Studies in American Political Development 26, no. 1 (2012): 24-49.
Examines three large American cities over the course of the nineteenth century to find that American political parties regularly manipulated the timing of city elections to secure an edge over their rivals; demonstrates that the timing of city elections has been an important determinant of voter turnout since before the Civil War.
"The Jackie (and Jill) Robinson Effect: Why Do Congresswomen Outperform Congressmen?" (with Christopher R. Berry). American Journal of Political Science 55, no. 3 (2011): 478-493.
Uses data on congressional districts over time to study the relative success of men and women in delivering federal spending to their districts and in sponsoring legislation. Finds that congresswomen secure roughly 9% more spending from federal discretionary programs than congressmen, and that women sponsor and cosponsor significantly more bills than their male colleagues.
"Election Timing and the Electoral Influence of Interest Groups" Journal of Politics 73, no. 2 (2011): 412-427.
Argues that the decrease in turnout that accompanies off-cycle election timing creates a strategic opportunity for organized interest groups to influence election outcomes and policy.