hero image
Christian Houle - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Christian Houle

Assistant Professor of Political Science | Michigan State University


An expert on comparative politics of developing countries


Christian Houle joined the department in 2013. Prior to that, he was assistant professor in the department of political science at Trinity College, Dublin, for three years. Houle's main research and teaching interests focus on the comparative politics of developing countries. He is especially interested in topics related to democracy and regime change, inequality, political instability and civil war.

His articles have been published or are forthcoming in International Organization, World Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, Political Behavior, Journal of Economic Inequality, International Interactions, Democratization and Government and Opposition.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Social Mobility


Civil Wars


Regime Change

Political Instability


Accomplishments (3)

Best Paper Award, APSA Comparative Democratization Section, (professional)


Arts & Social Sciences Benefactions Fund Grant, Trinity College, Dublin (professional)


Kellogg/Notre Dame Award, best paper in comparative politics presented at the MPSA, (professional)


Education (4)

University of Rochester: Ph.D., Political Science 2011

University of Rochester: M.A., Political Science 2008

Queens University: M.A., Economics 2004

Universie Laval: B.A., Political Science and Sociology 2002

Affiliations (2)

  • Committee Member (Chair), Comparative Democratization Section, Best Paper Prize, American Political Science Association, 2014.
  • Committee Member, Comparative Democratization Section, Best Paper Prize, American Political Science Association, 2011.

Journal Articles (3)

Does ethnic voting harm democracy?


Christian Houle

2018 A large literature argues that ethnic voting is detrimental to democracy. Ethnic voting may have at least three effects:(1) it can reduce uncertainty over electoral results;(2) it may increase the winner-take-all character of elections; and (3) it can lead to a process of ethnic outbidding. However, few studies have tested the effect of ethnic voting on democracy using large-N quantitative analysis...

view more

A two-step theory and test of the oil curse: the conditional effect of oil on democratization


Christian Houle

2018 Does oil impede democratization? This article posits that in order to understand the effect of oil on democratization one has to decompose the transition process into two steps:(1) the ending of the authoritarian regime, which initiates the process; and (2) the subsequent establishment of a democracy rather than an autocracy. I argue that oil has different effects on the two phases of the transition process: while oil has contradictory effects on the likelihood that an authoritarian regime fails, it diminishes the likelihood of the establishment of democracy following the failure...

view more

Does economic inequality breed political inequality?


Christian Houle

2018 Does economic inequality generate political inequality? While there is a large literature on the effect of inequality on regime change and support for democracy, there is little research on its effect on political equality across socioeconomic positions. Yet democracy and political equality, although related, are distinct concepts...

view more