Assistant Professor

University of California, San Diego

Dept. of Political Science &

Global School of Policy and Strategy

twitter: @aspaglayan

I study what motivates politicians to expand access to education and improve the quality and equity of education systems, in developing countries and developed countries (including the U.S.). I use original datasets spanning long periods of time to understand why some governments today provide more and/or better education than others. I draw on insights from comparative political economy, development economics, economics of education, political and economic history.


I received my PhD in political science from Stanford University, an MA in education policy (Stanford), a Master of Public Policy (Georgetown University) and Licenciatura en Economia (Universidad de San Andres, Argentina).

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I have always been drawn to the question of why some politicians but not others have incentives to adopt public policies conducive to economic development. I am particularly interested in the political incentives underlying education policy decisions, given the central importance of education for human development and economic.


I approach my work from an interdisciplinary perspective—partly by choice, partly by nature, and mostly because I cannot avoid it.


I have worked on a range of public policy issues, from macroeconomic to labor to education policy; in organizations varying from small think tanks to large international organizations; and in several countries. These experiences have informed the questions I study and how I think about the world. In particular, while at the World Bank (2007-2010), I co-authored a background paper on the politics of education reform to inform the Education Sector Strategy 2020; conducted comparative research to inform institutional reforms to assure the quality of education in Chile, Mexico and Egypt; and was part of the four-person core team that developed SABER Teachers.

I enjoy teaching as much as research—both are reflections of my enthusiasm for learning!

You can download my CV here.