Monica Prasad

Associate Professor of Sociology


Monica Prasad's areas of interest are political sociology, comparative historical sociology, and economic sociology. Her book The Politics of Free Markets (University of Chicago Press, 2006) won the 2007 Barrington Moore Award. Prasad's new work includes research on the origins of progressive taxation in America, a comparative historical investigation of carbon taxes, and an edited volume on the sociology of taxation (co-edited with Isaac Martin and Ajay Mehrotra) called The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Her most recent book is The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty (Harvard University Press, 2012).

Prasad is the recipient of several awards including a Fulbright (pdf) to the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris in 2011 and a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies also in 2011. She received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (pdf) in 2009.

Current Research

The Origins of Progressive Taxation in America. Prasad has published a book, The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty, and is working on articles uncovering the curious history of the American tax system. Everyone knows that the United States is the only advanced industrial country without publicly financed national healthcare or compulsory national health insurance, that it has one of the smallest public welfare states in the Western world, and that there is consequently more poverty and economic vulnerability in it than in other wealthy countries. Most people, however, are surprised to learn that the United States also has the most progressive tax system of all the advanced industrial countries. In recent years, some scholars have wondered whether the one explains the other: whether the U.S.’s relatively more progressive tax system, established during the first half of the 20th century, constrained the development of the welfare state over the second half. In investigating this issue, Prasad aims to develop a more convincing theory of comparative political economy. This work has received funding from the National Science Foundation.

Selected Publications


Prasad, M. 2012. The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty. Harvard University Press.

Martin, I., A. Mehrotra, and M. Prasad, eds. 2009. The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective. Cambridge University Press.

Prasad, M. 2006. The Politics of Free Markets: The Rise of Neoliberal Economic Policies in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. University of Chicago Press.

Journal Articles

 Prasad, M. 2012. The popular origins of neoliberalism in the Reagan tax cut of 1981. Journal of Policy History 24(3): 351–83.

Prasad, M., and S. Munch. 2012 State-level renewable electricity policies and reductions in carbon emissions. Energy Policy 45: 237–42.

Prasad, M., and Y. Deng. 2009. Taxation and the worlds of welfare. Socio-Economic Review 7(3): 431–57.

Prasad, M., with K. Morgan. 2009. The origins of tax systems: A French-American comparison. American Journal of Sociology 14(5): 1350–94.

Prasad, M. 2005. Why is France so French? Culture, institutions, and neoliberalism, 1974–81. American Journal of Sociology 111(2): 357–407.