Birney, Mayling

Dr Mayling Birney  


Position held

Experience keywords:

anti-corruption reforms; governance; politics and political economy of China; rule of law; survey research; village elections and local-national relations in China

Research summary > [Click to expand]

Mayling Birney is a comparative political scientist with a special expertise in China. She is currently finishing a book that explains the benefits and drawbacks of China's system of governing, which she calls a "rule of mandates." She argues that this governing system helps achieve national priorities and short-term stability, but may endanger efforts to build rule of law, political reforms, and longer-term stability. She is also an expert on village elections, local politics, and original survey research in China.

From 2007-2010, Dr Birney was at Princeton University, where she was jointly appointed as the Wilson-Cotsen Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows and a Lecturer in the Woodrow Wilson School, and taught courses on Chinese politics and comparative regime change and stability. In 2006-2007, she was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a leading think tank in Washington D.C. In an earlier part of her career, Dr Birney also explored democratic politics in the United States from various angles, including through professional work as a Legislative Aide in the United States Senate. She holds a PhD in political science from Yale University, an MSc in economics from LSE, and a BA from Harvard University.

Sectors and industries to which research relates:

Consultancy; Law; Policy and Regulatory Bodies; Public Administration

Countries and regions to which research relates:


Media experience:


Contact Points

LSE phone number:

+44 (0)20 7955 7455



Birney, Mayling (2015) Why the fear of the Magna Carta in Beijing? Mayling Birney speaks to BBC Newshour International Development (16 Oct 2015) Blog entry


Birney, Mayling (2014) Decentralization and veiled corruption under China’s rule of mandates World Development, 53. 55-67. ISSN 0305-750X


Birney, Mayling (2013) Decentralization and veiled corruption under China's "rule of mandates" World Development, 53. 55-67. ISSN 0305-750X


Birney, Mayling and Shapiro, Ian and Graetz, Michael (2011) The political uses of public opinion: lessons from the estate tax repeal In: Shapiro, Ian, (ed.) The Real World of Democratic Theory. Princeton University Press, Oxford, UK, 180-218. ISBN 9780691090009


Birney, Mayling (2010) China’s rule of mandates and the centralized authoritarian control of elections. In: Annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, 02-05 Sep 2010, Washington, USA


Birney, Mayling (2008) Accurately inferring meaning from incomplete and insincere responses to sensitive survey questions in authoritarian regimes. In: Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, 28-31 August 2008, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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Brookings Institution Research Fellow (2006-7)

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