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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. He is also a nonresident fellow at the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.

His research focuses on the development of political institutions, political organizations, and public policy in the United States. 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 current book project examines the changing politics of workers’ rights since the 1960s.

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 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 and field chair of the American Politics subfield in the political science department. 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 at CIWO (Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations) demonstrate that minimum wage violations increased dramatically during the Great Recession and disproportionately impacted Latinx, Black, female, and non-citizen workers. Specifically, non-citizens were more than twice as likely to experience a minimum wage violation than citizens; Latinx workers were 84 percent more likely to have their minimum wage rights violated than white workers; Black workers and women were almost 50 percent more likely than White workers and men, respectively, to have their minimum wage rights violated; Latinx women who were not U.S. citizens were four times more likely to experience a minimum wage violation than White male citizens; and non-citizen Black women were 3.7 times more likely to be subject to minimum wage violations than White male citizens. 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.

The Political Effects of Policy Drift: Policy Stalemate and American Political Development. In recent years, scholars have made major progress in understanding the dynamics of “policy drift”—the transformation of a policy’s outcomes due to the failure to update its rules or structures to reflect changing socioeconomic circumstances. Amid polarization and gridlock, drift has become an increasingly common mode of policy change, and its major causes are now well understood. Yet surprisingly little attention has been paid to the distinctive political consequences of drift—to the ways in which drift, like the adoption of new policies, generates its own “policy feedback” effects. This project, joint with Jacob Hacker of Yale University, is meant to fill this gap. Galvin and Hacker lay out clear expectations concerning drift’s likely effects on downstream politics—in particular, on the development of institutions and organized groups—and then assess these arguments in the context of four varied cases of drift: labor law, health care, welfare, and disability insurance. Their core argument is that drift generates new incentives, interests, and alliances that simultaneously respond to the disruptive effects it produces and are heavily constrained by those effects. Regardless of whether these dynamics culminate in big reforms, they are one of the principal ways in which American politics and policy “develop.”

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. 2020. "Labor’s Legacy: The Construction of Subnational Work Regulation." ILR Review.

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., and C. Thurston. 2019. “The Limits of Policy Feedback as a Party-Building Tool.” In Unsettled Time: American Political Development and the Trump Presidency. Philip Rocco and Zachary Callen, eds. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 

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., and J. Fine, J. Round, and H. Shepherd. 2020. 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.