Zoila Ponce de León Assistant Professor of Politics

Zoila Ponce de León

Huntley 210
Website - Curriculum Vitae

Zoila Ponce de León is an Assistant Professor in the Politics Department and a core faculty member of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) Program. Her research focuses on social policy and comparative political economy, with particular emphasis on the politics of policymaking. She is broadly interested in explaining the variation in the expansion of social benefits across new democracies. Her book project, Political Parties and Policy Reform: Expansion of Healthcare in Latin America, approaches this issue by studying how and why the role of political parties as policymakers influences the quality of legislation and its implementation. Through the comparison of healthcare reform processes in Chile, Mexico, and Peru in the 2000s, she analyzes how programmatic versus non-programmatic parties affect the policymaking process.

Ponce de León studies other factors that influence the expansion of social benefits as well as political representation, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expansion of the private healthcare sector, gender bias on legislator responsiveness, party-voter policy congruence and clientelism, and immigration attitudes. Her work has been published in the following peer-reviewed journals: Journal of Latin American Studies, Journal of Experimental Political Science, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, and Revista de Ciencia Política.


Ph.D. in Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2018)
M.A. in Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2014)
B.A. in Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (2011)


Comparative Politics, Social Policy, Healthcare Policy, Comparative Political Economy, Latin American Politics, Political Parties, Representation, Immigration, COVID-19


Latin American Politics; Global Politics; Immigration Attitudes; Applied Statistics; Dystopian Fiction, Horror & Politics

Selected Publications

"Healthcare Reform out of Nowhere? Policy Reform and the Lack of Programmatic Commitment in Peru." 2021. Journal of Latin American Studies 53(3): 493-519. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022216X21000493

 *Winner of the Journal of Latin American Studies Best Article Prize for 2021.

“Women Want an Answer! Field Experiments on Gender Bias in Legislator Responsiveness," with Gabriele Magni. 2020. Journal of Experimental Political Science. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/XPS.2020.23 

*Selected by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program for inclusion in its Gender Action Portal.

“Peru 2018: Political Precariousness in the Times of Lava Jato," with Luis García. 2019. Revista Ciencia Política 39 (2): 341-365. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-090X2019000200341 

“The Changing Shapes of Latin American Welfare States," with Evelyne Huber. 2019. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.1656