Political economist Konstantin Sonin to join Chicago Harris faculty

Konstantin Sonin, a prominent Russian scholar whose research interests include development economics, economic theory and political economy, will join the faculty of the Harris School of Public Policy this fall.

Sonin served as a professor and vice rector at the prestigious Higher School of Economics in Moscow until December 2014. In recent years Sonin has focused on applying behavioral microeconomic concepts to an array of social and political phenomena, including corruption, dictatorship and the inequitable distribution of property. His research has earned him three medals from the Global Development Network, as well as consecutive best economist awards from the Russian Academy of Science in 2002 and 2003. In 2008, he received the Ovsievich Memorial Prize in Mathematical Economics, given annually to a distinguished Russian scholar under 40.

In addition to his academic work, Sonin writes a blog on Russian political and economic issues and contributes regularly to the Russian-language newspaper Vedomosti and the English-language Moscow Times. He is frequently cited in the Western press as an expert on the Russian economy. 

“We are pleased to welcome Konstantin to our faculty,” said Chicago Harris Dean Daniel Diermeier. “His path-breaking research on democratization and the complexities of policymaking in authoritarian systems have significantly deepened our understanding of economic and political development. As an expert and sought-out commentator on Russian politics and economics, he combines deep, theoretical insights with practical relevance.”

Sonin is no stranger to the landscape of Chicago academics. He served as a visiting professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management from 2009 to 2010 and has co-written several papers with Georgy Egorov, an economist at Kellogg frequently joined by Clark Medal winner Daron Acemoglu of MIT. He returned to Chicago in May 2014 as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.  

“I am very excited to join Chicago Harris,” Sonin said. “For an economist, the University of Chicago is the place of most exciting intellectual developments of the past half-century, and Chicago Harris is exactly the place where each political economist aspires to be. It already has one of the strongest political economics teams in the world, and I am looking forward to contributing to its atmosphere and output.” 

A Russian native, Sonin earned a master of science degree from Moscow State University in 1995 and a master of arts degree in economics at Moscow’s New Economic School in 1998. He completed his PhD in mathematics at Moscow State University that same year with a dissertation on ring theory, a subfield of abstract algebra. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, he served on the faculty of the New Economic School from 2001 to 2013. Sonin was also a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. in 2004-05. He remains affiliated with the Higher School of Economics as a visiting professor and adviser.