Dr. Alexandra Scacco

Portrait Foto Alexandra Scacco, Ph.D. (Private)


alex.scacco [at] wzb.eu
Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin
E 301
Vice Director of the Research Department


Alex Scacco is a Senior Research Fellow and Vice Director of the Institutions and Political Inequality unit at the WZB. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and previously worked as an Assistant Professor at New York University.

Alex's work focuses on the causes and consequences of individual decisions in conditions of extreme risk, where potential costs are high and benefits uncertain. Why, for example, do individuals choose to participate in communal violence, to migrate across the Sahara and the Mediterranean, or to trust outgroup members in contexts of recurring conflict? How does intergroup conflict affect political attitudes and social cohesion?

She addresses these questions using observational and experimental methods in a range of settings in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Her methodological interests focus on improving measurement in field-based research and knowledge aggregation in social science.

Her book, Anatomy of a Riot (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press), draws on original survey and interview data to unpack the relationship between poverty, membership in neighborhood-level social networks and the decision to participate in a series of deadly religious riots in contemporary Nigeria.

Alex has done fieldwork in Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, and is currently a principal investigator in ongoing projects in Israel and Lebanon.

Full CV

Google Scholar

Selected Publications

2024. "Who Wants to be Legible? Digitalization and Intergroup Inequality in Kenya" (with Lisa Garbe, Nina McMurry, and Kelly Zhang), forthcoming, Comparative Political Studies

2023. "COVID-19 and Mental Health in Low and Middle Income Countries" (with Nursena Aksunger, Corey Vernot, Rebecca Littman, Maarten Voors, et. al.), PLOS Medicine.

2023. "Reducing Prejudice through Intergroup Contact Interventions" (with Rebecca Littman, Chagai Weiss), Psychological Intergroup Interventions, Routledge.

2021. "COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance and Hesitancy in Low and Middle Income Countries'' (with Julio Solis Arce, Shana Warren, Niccolo Meriggi, et al.), Nature Medicine.

2021. "Christian-Muslim Relations in the Shadow of Conflict: Insights from Kaduna, Nigeria'' (with Shana Warren), Oxford Handbook of Politics in Muslim Societies, Melani Cammett and Pauline Jones, editors, Oxford University Press.

2020. "The Aggregation Challenge" (with Macartan Humphreys), World Development 127.

2018. "Can Social Contact Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Nigeria" (with Shana Warren), American Political Science Review 112 (3).

2014. "Intergroup Violence and Political Attitudes: Evidence from a Dividing Sudan" (with Bernd Beber and Philip Roessler), Journal of Politics 76 (3).

2012. "What the Numbers Say: A Digit-Based Test for Election Fraud" (with Bernd Beber), Political Analysis 20 (2).

2012. "The Curse of Oil? Natural Resources, Ethnic Diversity and Nigerian Political Development," Country Studies in Comparative Politics, David Samuels, editor, Pearson & Longman Co.

Under Contract

Anatomy of a Riot: Participation in Ethnic Violence in Nigeria (Cambridge University Press)

Under Review

"The Myth of the Misinformed Irregular Migrant? Survey Insights from Nigeria's Irregular Migration Epicenter" (with Bernd Beber), revise and resubmit, Journal of Politics.  

"Crowdsourcing Statistical Models to Predict COVID-19 Deaths Across and Within Countries" (with Miriam Golden, Haoyu Zhang, Tara Slough, Macartan Humphreys, et al.), revise and resubmit, PNAS.

"Desegregating Digital Spaces: A Facebook Field Experiment in Jerusalem'' (with Alexandra Siegel and Chagai Weiss).

Selected Working Papers

"Political and Social Correlates of Covid-19 Mortality" (with Constantin Manuel Bosancianu, Hanno Hilbig, Macartan Humphreys, Sampada KC, and Nils Lieber).

"Coping with Partition: Wealth, Security, and Migration in Post-Separation Sudan'' (with Bernd Beber and Philip Roessler).

"Identity in Partition: Evidence from a Panel Survey in Sudan" (with Bernd Beber and Philip Roessler).

"Long-term Effects of Intergroup Contact: Field Experimental Evidence from Nigeria'' (with Shana Warren).