About Me

Zhenhuan (Reed) Lei

Welcome! I am an assistant professor jointly appointed in the Department of Political Science and La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was a visiting scholar at Peking University, National School of Development, from August 2022 to July 2023.

My research focuses on comparative political economy with a regional specialization in China. I am interested in the political logic behind government officials’ incentives to invest in public projects. Such factors as the mismatch between the long-term infrastructure investment and officials’ shorter tenure, the lower visibility of certain public works, and the lack of coordination across regional governments may undermine governmental incentives to invest in public infrastructure. I have been working on several papers and a book project that illuminates how certain governments overcome these challenges, drawing on cross-national comparisons and data from China.

My research also tries to understand the functions of political institutions in China, including the party-state relationship, the legislature, and the judicial system. My other ongoing work investigates the political selection and succession problems in comparative perspectives, drawing on data from different settings and periods. My work has been published or is forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Comparative Economics, the Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, the Journal of Politics, and Studies in Comparative International Development.

Prior to joining UW-Madison, I obtained my Ph.D. in political science at New York University (2020), received an M.A. in economics and an M.P.A. at the University of Southern California (2016), and completed my undergraduate studies at China Foreign Affairs University (2014).

You can find my latest CV here. Please feel free to contact me at zhenhuan.lei[at]wisc.edu if you are interested in my work!