The many faces of GESIS


I am a political scientist at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne, where I lead the team Survey Data Augmentation. Before joining GESIS, I was senior researcher at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), interim professor for political science at the University of Konstanz, and a postdoctoral researcher at Heidelberg University. In 2014, I obtained my PhD with a thesis titled A nudge too far? The effects of democracy aid on democratization and political instability from the Department of Government at the University of Essex. My first degree is a Diplom in Regional Studies Latin America from the University of Cologne.


In my current research, I focus on measuring regime change and state capacity, developing methods to combine different types of data at various levels of spatial and temporal aggregation. In substantive terms, want to contribute to better understanding where, when, and how political transitions occur, and how negative consequences of such change can be mitigated. My research has appeared in The Journal of Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, Third World Quarterly, and other international, peer-reviewed journals.


Journal article

Carlitz, Ruth, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2024. "Harmony or cacophony? A disaggregated analysis of aid fragmentation." Studies in Comparative International Development 59 176-198. doi:

Hackenesch, Christine, Svea Koch, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2022. "Beyond rich and poor: Identifying global development constellations." Development Policy Review 40 (6): e12628. doi:

Ziaja, Sebastian. 2020. "More Donors, More Democracy." Journal of Politics 82 (2): 433-447. doi:

Ziaja, Sebastian, Jörn Grävingholt, and Merle Kreibaum. 2019. "Constellations of state fragility: an empirical typology." Studies in Comparative International Development 54 (2): 299-321. doi:

Elff, Martin, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2018. "Method factors in democracy indicators." Politics and Governance 6 (1): 92-104. doi:

Grävingholt, Jörn, Sebastian Ziaja, and Merle Kreibaum. 2015. "Disaggregating state fragility: A method to establish a multidimensional empirical typology." Third World Quarterly 36 (7): 1281-1298. doi:

Faust, Jörg, Jörn Grävingholt, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2015. "Foreign aid and the fragile consensus on state fragility." Journal of International Relations and Development 18 (4): 407–427. doi:

Ziaja, Sebastian. 2012. "What do fragility indices measure? Assessing measurement procedures and statistical proximity." Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft 1 (6): 39–64. doi:

Chapter in an edited book

Dreher, Axel, Valentin Lang, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2018. "Foreign Aid." In The Oxford Handbook of Governance and Limited Statehood, edited by Anke Draude, Tanja Börzel, and Thomas Risse, 394-415. Oxford University Press. doi:

Anheier, Helmut, Sonja Kaufmann, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2018. "Ten years after: the global financial and economic crisis - impact and implications." In The Governance Report 2018, edited by Hertie School of Governance, Oxford University Press.


Fabra Mata, Javier, and Sebastian Ziaja. 2009. Users' Guide on Measuring Fragility. German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Working and discussion paper

Lorch, Jasmin, Sebastian Ziaja, and Jörn Grävingholt. 2024. Constellations of State Fragility: Improving International Cooperation through Analytical Differentiation. IDOS Policy Brief 5/2024. Bonn: German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS). doi:

Presentation at a conference

Ziaja, Sebastian, Markus Geray, David Sebudubudu, and Armin von Schiller. 2022. "Reducing perceptions of inequality via electronic governance: A field experiment from Botswana." European Political Science Association (EPSA) Annual Conference, Prague, 23.-25.06.2022, 2022-06-24.