Mitchell A. Orenstein is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University in Boston and an associate of both the Center for European Studies and the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.
Professor Orenstein is a scholar of international politics focusing on the political economy of transition in Central and Eastern Europe, pension privatization worldwide, and the role of policy paradigms in economic reform. His research lies at the intersection of comparative politics, international political economy, and global public policy, employing a problem-driven research approach based on asking big, policy-relevant questions and answering them through carefully designed, in-depth field research.
Orenstein’s first book, Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Postcommunist Europe (University of Michigan Press, 2001), won the 1997 Gabriel A. Almond Award of the American Political Science Association for the best dissertation in comparative politics. This book compares strategies for economic reform adopted in the Czech Republic and Poland after 1989 and their political, economic, and distributional consequences. It shows why democracies, under certain circumstances, can be more effective than dictatorships in economic policy making.
Privatizing Pensions: The Transnational Campaign for Social Security Reform (Princeton University Press, 2008) won the 2009 Charles H. Levine Prize of the International Political Science Association for a book that “makes a contribution of considerable theoretical or practical significance in the field of public policy and administration, takes an explicitly comparative perspective, and is written in an accessible style.” Privatizing Pensions demonstrates the impact of a coalition of transnational actors led by the World Bank on pension privatization worldwide. This study shows that transnational actors can exert a powerful influence on domestic policy reform in democratic states despite lacking direct veto power, by influencing the ideas and policy preferences of domestic veto players.
Pensions, Social Security, and the Privatization of Risk (Columbia University Press, 2009) examines pension reform options for the United States under the Obama administration, drawing lessons from international experience. Professor Orenstein continues to study the effect of transnational actors on policy-making in democratic states and is starting a new project on the crisis of free market capitalism.
Professor Orenstein has also published two books on European social policy with the World Bank. Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle, co-authored with Dena Ringold and Erika Wilkens, is a seminal study of Roma poverty, sociology, and public health. It won the Voter’s Choice Award for the most innovative analytical and advisory activity and the World Bank Europe/Central Asia Knowledge Fair in 2004. Pension Reform in Europe: Process and Progress, co-edited with Robert Holzmann and Michal Rutkowski, analyzes the political economy of pension reform throughout the European Union.
Orenstein’s teaching encompasses the fields of comparative politics, European studies, and international political economy. He teaches an elective course on Europe and its Eastern Neighborhood at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, which analyzes the geopolitical competition between the European Union and Russia over the political and economic futures of the countries in between. Professor Orenstein also teaches Democratization and Governance at the graduate level, which provides a systematic introduction to theories of democracy and democratization worldwide.
Prior to joining the faculty of Northeastern University in 2012, Orenstein held appointments at Harvard, Yale, Brown, Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, and Moscow State Universities. Orenstein’s research has been recognized with fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has consulted for the World Bank, USAID, the government of Slovakia, and other organizations. Professor Orenstein has lived for several years in Europe – in Britain, France, Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia. His hobbies include travel, piano, and coaching youth baseball. He is married with three children.
Mitchell A. Orenstein
Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science
202 415 4066 (cell), 617 373 3876 (work)
301 Meserve Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115