Bio

Daniel M. Smith is the Gerald L. Curtis Visiting Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy in the Department of Political Science and School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

His interests cover a range of topics in comparative politics, political economy, and political behavior. A core substantive focus of his research and teaching is political representation in democracies, especially how institutions such as electoral systems affect voting behavior and the demographic backgrounds and behavior of political elites.

His first book, Dynasties and Democracy (Stanford University Press, 2018), introduces a comparative theory to explain the persistence of political dynasties in democracies around the world, and why they are only now beginning to wane in Japan. The book examines the advantages that members of dynasties reap throughout their political careers—from candidate selection, to election, to promotion into higher offices—and provides lessons from Japan for other democracies seeking to widen democratic representation beyond a limited number of elite families.

His research appears in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Political Analysis, and many other journals and edited volumes. He also co-organizes the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS), in addition to co-editing the Japan Decides election series. His CV gives a complete record of his research and professional activities. Current working papers are available here.

He earned his MA (2009) and PhD (2012) in political science from the University of California, San Diego, and his BA (2005) in political science and Italian from the University of California, Los Angeles. From 2012 to 2013, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University. From 2013 to 2021, he was assistant and then associate professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University.