Maria Victoria Murillo

Maria Victoria Murillo

Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Maria Victoria Murillo

International Affairs Building, Room 832

Personal Details

Focus areas: Political sustainability of the commodity boom, linkages between parties and richer and poorer voters, the economic determinants of electoral volatility in Latin America, legislators and economic representation in Argentina, weak institutions in Latin America 

Maria Victoria Murillo (Ph.D., Harvard, 1997) holds a joint appointment with the Department of Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs and is currently the Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS).

Murillo is the author of Labor Unions, Partisan Coalitions, and Market Reforms in Latin America, which was translated as Sindicatos, Coaliciones Partidarias y Reformas de Mercado en América Latina by Siglo XXI Editores and Political Competition, Partisanship, and Policymaking in the Reform of Latin American Public Utilities. She is also the co-author of Non-Policy Politics: Richer Voters, Poorer Voters, and the Diversification of Electoral Strategies with Ernesto Calvo (Cambridge University Press 2019) and Understanding Institutional Weakness: Power and Design in Latin American Institutions (Cambridge University Press, Element in Latin American Politics and Society Series, 2019) with Daniel Brinks and Steven Levitsky. She is also the co-editor of Understanding Weak Institutions: Lessons from Latin America (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2020), Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness (Penn State University Press 2005), Carreras Magisteriales, Desempeño Educativo y Sindicatos de Maestros en América Latina (Flacso, 2003), and Discutir Alfonsín (Siglo XXI, 2010). Her work has also appeared in International Organization, World Politics, American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, World Development, the Annual Review of Political Science, and many Latin American academic journals.

Murillo's research on distributive politics in Latin America has covered labor politics and labor regulations, public utility reform, education reform, agricultural policies, and economic policy more generally. Her more recent work focuses on electoral behavior, contentious dynamics, and the analysis of institutional weakness. Her empirical work is based on a variety of methods ranging from quantitative analysis of datasets built for all Latin American countries to qualitative field work in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela and survey and experiments in Argentina and Chile.

Murillo received her B.A. from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Murillo has taught at Yale University, was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University (Harvard Academy for Area Studies & David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies), and at the Russell Sage Foundation, as well as a Fulbright fellow.


  • PhD, Harvard University
  • MA, Harvard University
  • BA, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Research And Publications

Understanding Institutional Weakness: Power and Design in Latin American Institutions

Jun 2019

Cambridge University Press

Maria Victoria Murillo

Daniel Brinks

Steven Levitsky

Non-Policy Politics: Richer Voter, Poorer Voter, and the Diversification of Parties’ Electoral Strategies

Jan 2019

Cambridge University Press

Maria Victoria Murillo

Ernesto Calvo

Local Economic Voting and the Agricultural Boom in Argentina

May 2018

Latin American Politics and Society

Maria Victoria Murillo

Jorge Mangonnet

Julia Rubio

Economic Performance and Incumbents’ Support in Latin America

Feb 2017

Electoral Studies

Maria Victoria Murillo

Giancarlo Visconti

In The Media

María Victoria Murillo and co-authors wrote that new survey suggests that “voters for Bullrich and Milei, especially men, oppose the pace of cultural change on gender issues.”

Feb 13 2024
Americas Quarterly
Democratic Resilience

Professor Maria Victoria Murillo says in light of the recent election in Argentina, Milei’s election shows that "the anger against the government was stronger than the fear of the unknown.”

Nov 24 2023
ABC News Australia
Geopolitical Stability

President Santiago Peña MPA-EPM ’03 discusses election and policy and recalls his time at Columbia. 

Sep 28 2023

The SIPA political scientist Maria Victoria Murillo recently received an award from her home country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation.

Mar 23 2023

How did the political situation in Peru escalate to violence? Victoria Murillo unpacks why the country is in turmoil today.

Jan 25 2023
Columbia News