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Daniel Galvin

Associate Professor of Political Science

PhD, Political Science, Yale University

Daniel J. Galvin is an Associate 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. He is writing a book on the changing politics of workers’ rights and the efforts of low-wage workers to build power and strengthen their rights and protections in the workplace. 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 and is currently a book manuscript-in-progress, is supported in part by the Russell Sage Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

Wage Theft and Strategic Enforcement of Labor Standards. Workers in the United States are experiencing record unemployment at the same time that governments across the country are facing extraordinary budget deficits. Evidence from the Great Recession of 2007–2009 indicates high levels of unemployment weaken the labor market power of those low-wage workers who remain employed. Galvin and colleagues demonstrate that minimum wage violations increased dramatically during the Great Recession and disproportionately impacted Latinx, Black, female, and non-citizen workers. It is therefore critically important that federal, state, and local labor standards are vigorously and strategically enforced during times of economic stress. If minimum wage laws are not enforced during the current recession, then not only are the most vulnerable workers—those already struggling to make ends meet on poverty wages—at a higher risk of financial harm due to wage theft by their employers, but also the whole structure of wages in an industry or a city is weakened. Labor enforcement agencies at all levels of government must be both effective and strategic in their enforcement approaches while facing severe resource constraints that are likely to be exacerbated by recession-related shortfalls in government revenues and complicated by low-wage workers’ reluctance to make official complaints about wage theft lest they lose their jobs.

Selected Publications


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. 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

Other Writings

Galvin, D. with A. Davis, J. Fine, and J. Round. 2021. “Florida Policymakers Need to Reassess How the Minimum Wage is Enforced.” Joint Report by the Florida Policy Institute and the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization Report (March).

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. 

Galvin. D., J. Fine, and J. Round. 2020. Roadmap for Strategic Enforcement: Complaints and Compliance with San Francisco’s Minimum WageCenter for Innovation in Worker Organization Data Brief, September. 

Galvin, D. 2017. Wage theft is widespread, but politics and policies can play a powerful role in reducing itLondon School of Economics US Centre’s blog on American Politics and Policy, March 13.

Galvin, D. 2016. Obama built a policy legacy. But he didn’t do enough to build the Democratic PartyThe Washington Post – Monkey Cage, November 16.

Galvin, D. 2015. How to get paid what you’re owed, in three easy steps. (Okay, maybe not so easy.) The Washington Post – Monkey Cage, September 6.