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Gary King

Gary King, Ph.D., is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University — one of 25 with Harvard’s most distinguished faculty title — and Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science.

King develops and applies empirical methods in many areas of social science, focusing on innovations that span the range from statistical theory to practical application.

King is an elected Fellow in 8 honorary societies (National Academy of Sciences, American Statistical Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Society for Political Methodology, National Academy of Social Insurance, American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the Guggenheim Foundation) and has won more than 55 prizes and awards for his work.

King was elected President of the Society for Political Methodology and Vice President of the American Political Science Association. He has been a member of the Senior Editorial Board at Science, Visiting Fellow at Oxford, and Senior Science Adviser to the World Health Organization.  He has written more than 185 journal articles, 20 open source software packages, and 8 books.

King proposed the now widely accepted standard for fairness in legislative redistricting known as “partisan symmetry,” and the methods used by courts and parties to detect when partisan gerrymandering violates it. His “ecological inference” methods for inferring individual behavior from aggregate data are used in most jurisdictions applying the Voting Rights Act to detect racial gerrymandering. His book with Keohane and Verba, Designing Social Inquiry, helped launch the modern subfield of qualitative methods in political science; his book Unifying Political Methodology had a similar role for quantitative political methodology. His “Replication, Replication” article helped initiate the data sharing movement in political science, and his ongoing international “Dataverse” project supports the movement across fields. His “anchoring vignettes” approach to cross-cultural survey comparability has been used in more than 100 countries by researchers, governments, and others.

King has pioneered “politically robust” research designs that make possible unusually large randomized experiments in politically difficult circumstances — including the largest ever randomized health policy experiment, to evaluate the Mexican universal health insurance program, and the only large scale randomized news media experiment in the U.S. He has reverse engineered Chinese censorship and fabrication of social media posts, improved Social Security Trust Fund forecasts, and developed empirical methods and software widely used in academia, government, and private industry for automated text analysis, rare events, missing data, measurement error, causal inference, interpreting statistical results, and for forecasting elections, mortality rates, and international conflict.

King’s work is widely read across scholarly fields and beyond academia. He was listed as the most cited political scientist of his cohort; among the group of “political scientists who have made the most important theoretical contributions” to the discipline “from its beginnings in the late-19th century to the present”; and on lists of the most highly cited researchers across the social sciences. King’s many former students and postdocs now hold positions at leading universities and companies around the world. He has collaborated with hundreds of scholars, including many of his students, on research for publication. He has served on more than 30 editorial, nonprofit, and corporate boards; as founding editor of The Political Methodologist, and on the governing councils of the American Political Science Association, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Society for Political Methodology, Midwest Political Science Association, Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and Institute for Data, Science, and Society.

King is also co-founder and an inventor of the original technology for Crimson Hexagon (merged with Brandwatch, acquired by Cision), Learning Catalytics (acquired by Pearson), Thresher (acquired by Two Six Technologies, a Carlyle Company), OpenScholar (acquired by Monomyth Group), Perusall, and QuickCode. He has received 17 patents for these technologies.

King is a proud graduate of SUNY New Paltz (B.A., 1980) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.A., Ph.D., 1984). He taught at NYU for three years before coming to Harvard in 1987.

You can visit his university webpage here.

Google Scholar Citation Page

Gary's Seminars

Matching Methods for Observational and Experimental Causal Inference

We will discuss how to detect and ameliorate model dependence, where small, indefensible changes in model specification have large, perhaps unintended impacts on our conclusions. Easy-to-use matching methods for both observational and experimental data will be discussed.

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