The MIT Governance Lab (MIT GOV/LAB) is hosting the fourth annual Political Behavior of Development Conference (#PBD19) in Cambridge, MA on Friday, November 15, 2019 with a poster session the evening of November 14th. We are doing an open call for abstracts due May 27th (


The conference seeks to convene scholars who are developing new theories and gathering evidence on the myriad ways in which citizens, government actors, and informal elites behave in developing countries. We are particularly interested in understanding how citizens, bureaucrats and elected officials form attitudes, opinions and beliefs that influence overt behaviors, such as participating in social movements, protest, interactions with the bureaucracy, contributions to public goods, participation in clientelistic exchanges, and voting. By fostering a conversation among scholars working on a range of behaviors in diverse contexts, we hope to concretize and discuss what constitutes (and how we should understand) political behavior in developing countries. For reference, past conference agendas are available online for last year’s PBD18, PBD17, and the inaugural PBD16.


This year’s conference will include a combination of paper presentations, workshop sessions, where participants read papers in advance for an in-depth discussion, and a dynamic keynote discussion with academics and practitioners. We will also have a poster session the evening before showcasing graduate student research (November 14th, 5:30-7:30 PM).

Paper and Poster Submission

We invite you to submit abstracts for consideration. We encourage proposals on all topics related to political behavior in developing country contexts. To broaden the topics discussed in this year’s conference, we are particularly interested in proposals investigating:

  • Urbanization, informality, and migration
  • Use of “big”data to understand political behavior
  • Bureaucratic behavior
  • Justice and judicial authority
  • Social psychology in development
  • (Mis)information, trust and polarization
  • Political behavior in authoritarian contexts

We encourage submissions from scholars and practitioners based outside the US who work in low and middle income countries. Limited, but reasonable, travel stipends are available. Priority will be given to work-in-progress over polished projects. Interested participants should submit abstracts of no more than 500 words by May 27th ( Accepted papers will be notified by mid-June; complete papers must be submitted by November 5th. If you have any questions, please email us (

Planning Committee: Lily Tsai, Danny Hidalgo, Blair Read, Paige Bollen, Ying Gao, Sean Liu, Leah Rosenzweig, Stuart Russell, Nicole Wilson.