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Vargas Thomas, Postdoctoral Fellow

photo of Thomas Vargas

Thomas Vargas

Postdoctoral Fellow

Postdoctoral Fellows
Department of Political Science

Area(s) of Interest:


Tom was born and raised in San José, Costa Rica, but completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. His research focuses on the provision of public education in the developing world, with attention to the political origins of education policy. In particular, he emphasizes how political choices regarding education are a result of the interaction between the political alignments of interest groups, electoral incentives, and international factors such as policy diffusion. He also specializes in the political economy of development, studying how inequality (of income and land) is related to redistribution and democratization. To study these topics he make use of quantitative and qualitative methods, including interviews, archival work, large-N statistical work, and survey experiments. 

While at McMaster, Thomas will be working on turning his dissertation into a book and researching how citizen perceptions of government limit the government’s ability to improve public services. In addition, he will work as an Editorial Assistant for Dr. Dion in her capacity as an Editor of the American Political Science Review and collaborate with her on various research projects.


  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of Minnesota, August 2020.
  • MPP International Development, The College of William & Mary, May 2012.
  • BSFS International Politics and Latin American Studies, Georgetown University, May 2010.