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Margaret Levi
Levi in 2019
Born1947 (age 73–74)
OccupationPolitical scientist, author
AwardsJohan Skytte Prize in Political Science
Academic background
EducationBryn Mawr College, Harvard University
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington

Margaret Levi (born 1947) is an American political scientist and author, noted for her work in comparative political economy, labor politics, and democratic theory, notably on the origins and effects of trustworthy government.


She earned her BA from Bryn Mawr College in 1968 and her PhD from Harvard University in 1974, the year she joined the faculty of the University of Washington.


She is the Sara Miller McCune Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford and Professor of Political Science, Stanford University, and Jere L. Bacharach Professor Emerita of International Studies in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. She has been a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University. She held the Chair in Politics, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, 2009–13. At the University of Washington she was director of the CHAOS (Comparative Historical Analysis of Organizations and States) Center and formerly the Harry Bridges Chair and Director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies.

Levi's book Of Rule and Revenue (1988), a study of the institutions of state revenue production, helped pioneer rational choice approaches in comparative politics. She has since pushed rational choice analysis into new substantive areas, for example, in examining people's acceptance of military conscription in Consent, Dissent, and Patriotism (1997).

She is also the co-author of Analytic Narratives (Princeton University Press, 1998) Cooperation Without Trust? (Russell Sage, 2005), and Labor Standards in International Supply Chains (Edward Elgar, 2015). In the Interest of Others (Princeton, 2013), co-authored with John Ahlquist, explores how organizations provoke member willingness to act beyond material interest. In other work, she investigates the conditions under which people come to believe their governments are legitimate and the consequences of those beliefs for compliance, consent, and the rule of law. Her research continues to focus on how to improve the quality of government. She is also committed to understanding and improving supply chains so that the goods we consume are produced in a manner that sustains both the workers and the environment.

Levi started The Brand Responsibility Project—a research project to document the campaign and dispute settlement between Nike, Inc. and the Central General de Trabajadores of Honduras (CGT). CGT claimed that Nike was responsible for providing terminal compensation, benefits and priority rehiring for 1,800 factory employees following the 2009 bankruptcy and closure of two Honduran factories (Hugger and VisionTex) that were part of Nike's supply chain.[1]

She was general editor of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics and is co-general editor of the Annual Review of Political Science. Levi serves on the boards of the: Social Science Research Council (SSRC); Institute For Advanced Study in Princeton; Center for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (CEACS) in Madrid; Scholar and Research, Group of the World Justice Project, and the Berggruen Institute. Her fellowships include the Woodrow Wilson in 1968, German Marshall in 1988–1989, and the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences in 1993–1994. She has lectured and been a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, Brown University, the European University Institute, the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, the Juan March institute, the Budapest Collegium, Cardiff University, the University of Oxford, Bergen University, and Peking University.

Awards and honors

She became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 2002, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2015. She served as president of the American Political Science Association from 2004 to 2005. In 2014 she received the William H. Riker Prize in Political Science. She was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2018.[2] She is the 2019 winner of the Johan Skytte Prize.

Personal life

Levi and her husband, Robert Kaplan, are avid collectors of Australian Aboriginal art. Ancestral Modern, an exhibition drawn from their collection, was on view at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) in 2012. Yale University Press and SAM co-published the catalogue.

Selected publications


  1. ^ Brand Responsibility Project Records 2004–2012.0.84 cubic feet (2 boxes) of textual materials plus 83.8 GB of digital files.
  2. ^

Sources and further reading