Political Economy Analysis Publications


Applied political economy analysis provides rapid assessment procedures to assess the political dimensions of policymaking in ways that enhance the quality of policy reform processes. This is also called applied political analysis.

Recent years have shown increasing interest and attention to applied political economy analysis (A-PEA) for public health, from international agencies, government officials, and academic researchers. Still, there are limited resource materials and few training courses on how to do A-PEA for public health. This webpage brings together some of my efforts to address these gaps, with links to a practical guide, software for A-PEA, a recent article with personal reflections, and then various articles related to A-PEA for public health.

A Practical Guide to A-PEA

A Guide to Applied Political Analysis for Health Reform, by Michael R. Reich and Paola Abril Campos. Working Paper No. #1, India health Systems Project, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, August 2020.

This guide helps reformers navigate the political processes involved in changing and implementing health policies that will improve societal health and well-being. Policy reform is a profoundly political process, and advocates need to manage the politics of change, through careful political analysis and innovative political strategies. This guide is aimed to assist in applied political analysis—not in advancing theory, but in supporting practitioners. The document provides guidance that will help in the art of policy reform, through step-by-step suggestions for analysis.

Computer Software for A-PEA

PolicyMaker 4.0: Computer-Assisted Political Analysis, by Michael R. Reich and David Cooper. Software, Brookline, MA: PoliMap, 2010.

This easy-to-use Windows-based software can help you manage the political dimensions of policy reform by analyzing the political landscape, understanding key political actors, and creating effective strategies to promote your point of view on any policy question or political issue. PolicyMaker software provides step-by-step guidance to help you conduct a stakeholder analysis and design political strategies to support your policy. PolicyMaker can be used in a group for strategic planning among key advisors, or as an instrument for seeking consensus or agreement among different players, or as a confidential policy advocacy or lobbying tool. PolicyMaker has been used around the world by government officials, advocacy groups, private companies, international agencies, and the faculty members of major universities.

Some Personal Reflections

Politics and Policies of Health Systems: “Reflections on 50 Years of Observing Protests, Leaders, and Political Analysis,” by Michael R. Reich. Health Systems & Reform 9:1, 2023.

This commentary presents my reflections on the politics and policies of health systems related to my work over the past 50 years. The article is based on a plenary lecture at the Seventh Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Bogotá, Colombia, in November 2022, examining a persistent challenge for people working to improve public health: How can the powerless influence policy? Using examples from my past writings, I discuss the role of social protest movements, the impact of political leadership, and the relevance of political analysis.

Articles with Methods for A-PEA for Public Health

Campos, Paola Abril, and Michael R. Reich, “Political Analysis for Health Policy Implementation,” Health Systems & Reform 5(3):224-35, 2019.

Fox, Ashley, Yarlini Balarajan, Chloe Cheng, and Michael R. Reich, “Measuring Political Commitment and Opportunities to Advance Food and Nutrition Security: Piloting a Rapid Assessment Tool,” Health Policy and Planning 30(5): 566-578, 2015.

Fox, Ashley, and Michael R. Reich, “The Politics of Universal Health Coverage in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Framework for Evaluation and Action,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 40(5): 1023-1060, 2015.

Reich, Michael R., “The Politics of Reforming Health Policies,” Promotion & Education 9(4):138-142, 2002.

Reich, Michael R., “Applied Political Analysis for Health Policy Reform,” Current Issues in Public Health 2:186-191, 1996.

Short Commentaries on A-PEA

Reich, Michael R., “Political Economy Analysis for Health,” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 97(8), 2019.

Balarajan, Yarlini, and Michael R. Reich, “Political Economy Challenges in Nutrition,” Globalization & Health 12:70, 2016, at doi: 10.1186/s12992-016-0204-6.

Reich, Michael R., and Yarlini Balarajan, “Political Economy Analysis for Nutrition Policy,” Lancet Global Health 2(12): e681-e682, 2014.

 Practical Examples of A-PEA

Glassman, Amanda, Michael R. Reich, Kayla Laserson, and Fernando Rojas, “Political Analysis of Health Reform in the Dominican Republic,” Health Policy and Planning 14(2):115-126, 1999.

 Case Studies using Political Economy Analysis

James, Erin, Martin Lajous, and Michael R. Reich, “The Politics of Taxes for Health: An Analysis of the Passage of the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax in Mexico,” Health Systems & Reform 6(1): e1669122, 2020.

Sparkes, Susan P., Jesse B. Bump, Ece A. Özçelik, Joseph Kutzin, and Michael R. Reich, “Political Economy Analysis for Health Financing Reform,” Health Systems & Reform 5(3):183-94, 2019.

Reich, Michael R. “Political Economy of Non-Communicable Diseases,” Health Systems & Reform 5(3):250-6, 2019.

Balarajan, Yarlini, and Michael R. Reich, “Political Economy of Child Nutrition Policy: A Qualitative Study of India’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme,” Food Policy 62:88-98, 2016.

Sparkes, Susan Powers, Jesse B. Bump, and Michael R. Reich, “Political Strategies for Health Reform in Turkey: Extending Veto Point Theory,” Health Systems & Reform 1(4):263-275, 2015.

Gómez-Dantés, Octavio, Michael R. Reich, and Francisco Garrido-Latorre, “Political Economy of Pursuing the Expansion of Social Protection in Health in Mexico,” Health Systems & Reform 1(3): 207-216, 2015.

Shroff, Zubin Cyrus, Sanjay Kumar, and Michael R. Reich, “Health Insurance as a Tool of Tactical Redistribution in Electoral Politics in Tamil Nadu, India,” Asian Survey 55(5):991-1017, 2015.

Shroff, Zubin Cyrus, Marc J. Roberts, and Michael R. Reich, “Agenda Setting and Policy Adoption of India’s National Health Insurance Scheme: Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana,” Health Systems & Reform 1(2): 107-118, 2015.

Bump, Jesse, and Michael R. Reich, “Political Economy Analysis for Tobacco Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries,” Health Policy and Planning 28(2): 123-133, 2012.

Kwon, Soonman, and Michael R. Reich, “The Changing Process and Politics of Health Policy in Korea,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 30(6): 1003-1025, 2005.

Reich, Michael R., “The Politics of Agenda-Setting in International Health: Child Health Versus Adult Health in Developing Countries,” Journal of International Development 7:489-502, 1995.

Reich, Michael R., “The Politics of Health Reform in Developing Countries: Three Cases of Pharmaceutical Policy,” Health Policy 32:47-77, 1995.

Reich, Michael R., “Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Policy and Politics,” Health Policy and Planning 9(2):130-143, 1994.

Reich, Michael R., “Essential Drugs: Economics and Politics in International Health,” Health Policy 8:39-57, 1987.

Reich MR, “The Political Economy of Health Transitions in the Third World,” in Chen LC et al., eds., Health and Social Change in International Perspective, Boston: Harvard School of Public Health, 1994, pp. 413-451. [Download PDF]