Welcome! I am an Assistant Professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan. I am also affiliated with the Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion at Harvard University. I hold a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School. Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.
My research examines the political origins and consequences of economic inequality in comparative perspective. I am interested in elucidating the conditions under which economic inequality becomes politically salient to affect political attitudes and behavior and the quality of democracy including democratic discontent. I am especially interested in identifying causal paths of how historical patterns of economic development and regime change affect inequality, inequality perceptions, and the sense of injustice both at the individual and collective levels. I utilize mixed methods, including lab and field experiments, primary surveys, interviews, ethnography, and comparative historical analysis based on in-depth qualitative fieldwork.
My current book project, Judging Inequality, explains how people define and judge economic inequality through the lens of the sense of injustice and the mechanisms through which inequality judgment shapes the political arena such as the politics of redistribution, political polarization, and democratic discontent. This work is based on my dissertation, which was awarded the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO) Dissertation Prize by the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the Department of Economics, University of Chicago. I am the first non-Economics Ph.D. to win the prize.
My research has been supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education and the Center for East Asian Studies and the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, among others.
You can reach me at yeonjulee [at] aoni.waseda.jp.