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Daniel Galvin

Professor of Political Science

PhD, Political Science, Yale University

Daniel J. Galvin is a Professor of Political Science and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

His current research focuses on labor policy and politics, worker organizations, and the enforcement of labor standards. His new book, Alt-Labor and the New Politics of Workers’ Rights, is forthcoming with Russell Sage Foundation. It examines the changing nature of workers’ rights over the last half-century and the political development of alt-labor groups (nonunion, nonprofit forms of worker organization), which are supporting and organizing predominantly low-wage immigrant workers and workers of color in their fight for their rights in the political and economic arenas.  He also researches and writes on presidential politics, political parties, and American political development. Galvin is the author of Presidential Party Building: Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush (Princeton University Press), co-editor of Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State (NYU Press), and has published numerous journal articles and book chapters.

His work has been recognized with several awards, including the Emerging Scholar Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA) section on Political Organizations and Parties, the Mary Parker Follett best article prize from the APSA Politics and History section (for “From Labor Law to Employment Law: the Changing Politics of Workers’ Rights”), and the Best Paper Award from the APSA Public Policy section (for “Deterring Wage Theft: Alt-Labor, State Politics, and the Policy Determinants of Minimum Wage Noncompliance”). His research has been supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Economic Policy Institute, the National Science Foundation, the AT&T Research Fellowship, the Miller Center for Public Affairs, the LBJ Foundation, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation. His teaching has been recognized by the E. LeRoy Hall Award for Excellence in Teaching and the R. Barry Farrell Teaching Award, and he was twice elected by the Northwestern student body to the Faculty Honor Roll. 

Galvin is currently chair of the Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy program at the Institute of Policy Research. He is also affiliated with the Comparative-Historical Social Science (CHSS) program and the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy (CSDD) at Northwestern.

Current Research

The New Politics of Workers’ Rights. Over the last several decades, as national labor law has “ossified,” the U.S. workplace has “fissured,” and precarious, nonstandard, “bad” jobs have proliferated, a growing number of workers – disproportionately low-wage immigrants, women, and people of color – have become increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the workplace. In response, a new politics of workers’ rights has begun to emerge in new venues (state and local levels), focusing on new governing institutions (employment laws), and featuring new organizational forms (worker centers and other “alt-labor” groups), coalitions (including traditional labor unions, community groups, and social movements), and strategies (including innovative efforts to build political power for low-wage workers and their communities).  These developments have resulted in new substantive rights and protections for workers and have helped to invigorate the labor movement, but at the same time, they have added new problems without resolving the problems produced by labor law’s drift in the first place. In this project, Galvin uses original quantitative and qualitative data to analyze the new policy innovations and document and assess the political development of alt-labor groups over the first two decades of the 21st century. This research, which has resulted in several journal articles, will appear in Galvin’s forthcoming Alt-Labor and the New Politics of Workers’ Rights (Russell Sage Foundation, 2024). 

Race, Geography, and Inequalities in Minimum Wage Enforcement. Galvin is the PI on a multi-year study titled Unequal Protections: Regional Disparities in Labor Standards Policies, Enforcement, and Violations funded by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. In this project, Galvin and coauthors examine the relationship between region, race, state enforcement capacities, and minimum wage violations in the United States, and what the mechanisms are by which weaker state enforcement capacities might produce a higher incidence of minimum wage violations. The researchers theorize a repertoire of mechanisms linking the legacy of slavery and the post-slavery racialized economy in the South to weak state enforcement capacity and minimum wage violations as well as the role of federalism in creating and maintaining Black-white racial disparities in wages and other outcomes.

Wage Theft and the Strategic Enforcement of Labor Standards. In collaboration with state and local departments of labor, Galvin and colleagues at the workplace justice lab@RU conduct policy studies to examine the relationship between the complaints agencies receive from workers and underlying estimated violation rates. By identifying dysfunctional industries that are high in estimated violation rates but low in complaint rates, Galvin and colleagues help government agencies develop strategic enforcement practices to root out systemic and pervasive wage theft. Collaborations are ongoing with the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Illinois Department of Labor, the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, the Colorado Division of Labor Standards and Statistics, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards, the Chicago Office of Labor Standards, and King County (Washington) Office of Equity and Social Justice.

Selected Publications


Galvin, D.  2024. Forthcoming. Alt-Labor and the New Politics of Workers’ Rights. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Galvin, D. 2010. Presidential Party Building: Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Galvin, D., with Ian Shapiro and Stephen Skowronek, eds. 2006. Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State. New York: NYU Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

Galvin, D. and C. Thurston. 2022. “APD as a Problem-Driven Enterprise.” Studies in American Political Development 36, 2: 156-158. 

Tsoukalas, A., J. Round, J. Round, and D. Galvin. 2022. “Minimum Wage Enforcement: The Unfinished Business of Florida’s Constitutional Amendment.” Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy 32, 3: 463-490.  

Galvin, D. 2021. “Alt-Labor’s Turn Toward Politics and Public Policy to Combat the Exploitation of Low-Wage Workers: Building Power and ‘Punching Above Their Weight’” Economic Policy Institute (Washington, D.C.), 1-60.

Galvin, D. 2021. “Wage Theft in a Recession: Unemployment, Labor Violations, and Enforcement Strategies for Difficult Times.” International Journal of Comparative Labour Law & Industrial Relations 37 (2): 107-132. With Janice Fine, Hana Shepherd, and Jenn Round. [ungated]

Galvin, D. 2021. “Surprising Causes: Propensity-Adjusted Treatment Scores for Multimethod Case Selection.” Sociological Methods and Research. With Jason N. Seawright. [ungated]

Galvin, D. 2020. "Labor’s Legacy: The Construction of Subnational Work Regulation." ILR Review 74, 5 (October): pp. 1103–1131.

Galvin. D., and J. Hacker. 2020. "The Political Effects of Policy Drift: Policy Stalemate and American Political Development." Studies in American Political Development.

Galvin, D. 2020. "Party Domination and Base Mobilization: Donald Trump and Republican Party Building in a Polarized Era." The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics.

Galvin, D. 2019. “From Labor Law to Employment Law: The Changing Politics of Workers’ Rights." Studies in American Political Development 33, 1 (April): 50-86

  • Winner of the Mary Parker Follett prize for best article in Politics & History, APSA, 2020.

Galvin, D. 2019. “Let’s Not Conflate APD with Political History, and Other Reflections on ‘Causal Inference and American Political Development.’” Public Choice (July): 1-16,

Galvin, D. 2017. The "changing of the guard" from labor law to employment lawLabor Studies Journal 42(3).

Galvin, D. 2016. Deterring wage theft: Alt-labor, state politics, and the policy determinants of minimum wage compliancePerspectives on Politics 14(2): 324–50.

  • Winner of the Best Paper on Public Policy Award, APSA section on Public Policy

Popular Writings

Galvin, D. with J. Vincent. 2021. “Democratic presidents have traditionally hurt their parties. Joe Biden may be different.” The Washington Post – Monkey Cage, January 21.

Galvin, D. with D. Schlozman and S. Rosenfeld. 2020. “What Happened to that ‘Blue Wave’?” The Washington Post – Monkey Cage, November 10.

Galvin. D., and J. Fine, J. Round, and H. Shepherd. 2020. Maintaining Effective U.S. Labor Standards Enforcement Through the Coronavirus RecessionWashington Center for Equitable Growth, September.