The Program on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective was inaugurated in 2013 at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. It investigates problems with American democracy, including polarization and gridlock, poor governance, and declining trust in government institutions. It also analyzes policy initiatives and institutional reforms that have the greatest potential to address those features of American democracy that are most impairing its performance. An important and distinctive feature of the Program on American Democracy’s work is to study American problems in comparative perspective, with particular attention to the structure and functioning of other established democracies.
The Program’s research focuses on specific areas, including electoral systems reform, comparative budgetary policy, and lobbying and campaign finance reform. This research links institutional changes to a range of outcomes such as political participation, democratic accountability, and polarization. It also draws lessons from institutional reforms in other advanced democracies.