Dr. Elizabeth Rigby

Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration
Address: Media and Public Affairs Building
805 21st St. NW
Washington, DC, 20052
Phone: 202-994-6196
Fax: 202-994-6792


Elizabeth Rigby is an Assistant Professor in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University where she teaches courses on the role of politics in the policymaking process. Her research examines the interplay of politics, policy, and social inequality.

In current projects, Dr. Rigby examines the representation of the poor across state legislatures, public opinion regarding health disparities, achievement gaps and other forms of social inequality, and the effect of electoral institutions on class and racial bias in political participation. Her research has been published in a range of journals including: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Policy Studies Journal, Political Research Quarterly, and Social Science Quarterly.

Dr. Rigby holds a Ph.D. (with distinction) in Politics and Education from Columbia University. In addition, she received post-doctoral training in population health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar.

Complimenting this academic training, Dr. Rigby has worked at the intersection of politics, policy, and inequality in a range of roles. These include: coordinating a state-wide lobbying campaign, consulting with state policymakers on design of early childhood education programs, teaching in a large urban school district, and conducting evaluation research in Head Start programs. Together these experiences convinced her of the importance of structural and institutional influences on both individual outcomes and the inequalities we see among population sub-groups. This conviction motivates her work illuminating the causes and consequences of public policy in our society.

Current Research

Politics of Poverty and Inequality
Health and Social Policy Analysis
Policymaking Process
Political Parties


PhD, Politics and Education, Columbia University
MA, Education, Washington University in St. Louis
BA, Political Science, Emory Univesity



Rigby, Elizabeth, Jennifer Hayes Clark, and Stacey Pelika (forthcoming). “Party Politics and Enactment of ‘ObamaCare’: A Policy-Centered Analysis of Minority Party Involvement.”  Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

Moynihan, Donald, Pam Herd, and Elizabeth Rigby (forthcoming.)  “Policymaking by Other Means: Do Governments Use Administrative Barriers to Limit Access to Medicaid?  Administration and Society.

Rigby, Elizabeth and Gerald C. Wright (2013). “Political Parties and Representation of the Poor in the American States.”  American Journal of Political Science, 57(3):552-565.
       Selected as Best Paper in State Politics and Policy presented at APSA Conference in 2007

Rigby, Elizabeth and Jake Haselswerdt (2013). “Hybrid Federalism, Partisan Politics, and the Early Implementation of State Health Insurance Exchanges.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 43(3):368-391.

Rigby, Elizabeth (2012). “State Resistance to ObamaCare.” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, 10(2):5.

Rigby, Elizabeth and Melanie J. Springer. (2011). “Does Electoral Reform Increase (or Decrease) Political Equality?” Political Research Quarterly, 64(2):420-434.

Rigby, Elizabeth and Gerald C. Wright. (2011). “Whose Statehouse Democracy? Policy Responsiveness to Poor vs. Rich Constituents in Poor vs. Rich States,” (p. 189-222). In Peter Enns and Chris Wlezien (Eds.).  Who Gets Represented?  New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2011). “How the National Prevention Council Can Overcome Key Challenges and Improve Americans’ Health.” Health Affairs, 30(11):2149-2156.

Marschall, Melissa, Elizabeth Rigby and Jasmine L. Jenkins. (2011). “Do State Policies Constrain Local Actors?  The Impact of English Only Laws on Language Instruction in Public Schools.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 41(4):586-609.

Ryan, Rebecca M., Anna D. Johnson, Elizabeth Rigby and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. (2011). “The Impact of Child Care Subsidy Use on Child Care Quality.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26: 320-331.

Blacksher, Erika, Elizabeth Rigby and Claire Espy (2010). “Public Values, Health Inequality, and Alternative Notions of a ‘Fair’ Response.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 35(6): 889-920.

Kimbro, Rachel T. and Elizabeth Rigby (2010). “Federal Food Policy and Childhood Obesity: A Solution or Part of the Problem?” Health Affairs, 29(3): 1-8.
     Selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as 2nd Most Influential Research Paper in 2010

Rigby, Elizabeth, Joe Soss, Bridget C. Booske, Angela M. Rohan and Stephanie A. Robert. (2009). “Public Responses to Health Disparities: How Group Cues Structure Support for Government Intervention.” Social Science Quarterly, 90(5): 1321-1340.

Grogan, Colleen and Elizabeth Rigby. (2009). “Federalism, Partisan Politics, and Shifting Support for State Flexibility: The Case of the U.S. State Children’s Health Insurance Program.” Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 39: 47-69.

Robert, Stephanie, Bridget C. Booske, Elizabeth Rigby, and Angela M. Rohan. (2008). “Public Views on Determinants of Health, Interventions to Improve Health, and Priorities for Government.” Wisconsin Medical Journal, 107(3), 124-130.   

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2007). “Same Policy Area, Different Politics: How the Characteristics of Policy Tools Alter the Determinants of Early Childhood Education Policy.” Policy Studies Journal, 35(4), 653-670.

Rigby, Elizabeth, Rebecca M. Ryan and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn (2007). “Child Care Quality in Different State Policy Contexts.”  Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 26(4), 887-907.

Rigby, Elizabeth, Kate Tarrant and Michelle Neuman, (2007). “Alternative Policy Designs and the Socio-Political Construction of Child Care.” Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Special Issue: Child Care Politics, 8(2), 98-108.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2005). “Linking Research and Policy on Capitol Hill: Insights from Research Brokers.”  Evidence and Policy, 1(2), 25-45.


Rigby, Elizabeth. (2013). Review of Voices for Children: Rhetoric and Public Policy by William T. Gormley.  Social Services Review.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2012). Review of Health Care Reform and American Politics by Lawrence R. Jacobs and Theda Skocpol and of Remedy and Reaction by Paul Starr.  Perspectives on Politics, 10(4):1079-1081.

Rigby, Elizabeth (2011). “Accountability in an Intergovernmental Context: Federal Education Policy as a Cautionary Tale.” Review of Collision Course by Paul Manna and The Ordeal of Equality by David Cohen and Susan Moffitt. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 21: 387-395.

Rigby, Elizabeth (2010). Review of “Rich Democracies, Poor People: How Politics Explain Poverty” by David Brady. Journal of Children and Poverty, 16(1):86-87.


Rigby, Elizabeth and Julia Lynch, “Who Cares if the Bucket Leaks? Efficiency Concerns and Support for Redistributive Policy among the American Public.

Rigby, Elizabeth. “Poor Democrats, Rich Republicans, and the Policy Consequences of Income-Party Stratification”

Rigby, Elizabeth and John Sides. “Inequality in the 2012 Presidential Election”

Rigby, Elizabeth and Gerald C. Wright. “Policy Consequences of Party Polarization: Evidence from State Social Welfare Policymaking.”  

Rigby, Elizabeth and Megan Hatch. “For Richer or Poorer: The Politics of Redistribution in Bad Economic Times”


Rigby, Elizabeth and Megan Hatch (2014).”Equity, Inequality, and Politics.” In Michael Shally-Jenson (Ed).  Encyclopedia of American Political Culture.  New York: Praeger/Greenwood Press.

Rigby, E. (2013). “Economic Policy: An Important (but overlooked) Piece of “Health in All Policies.”  Invited Discussion Paper, Institute of Medicine (IOM), Washington, DC.

Rigby, Elizabeth (2013). “Why we Don’t Need a Second War on Poverty (At Least not Now).” Huffington Post’s The Road Forward Series, January 15, 2013.

Rigby, Elizabeth (2012). Do Electoral Reforms Promote Equal Participation?” Scholars Strategy Network Key Findings, http://scholarsstrategynetwork.org.

Kimbro, Rachel and Elizabeth Rigby. (2010). “Is Federal Food Assistance Part of the Childhood Obesity Problem? James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Health Policy Newsletter, Houston: Rice University.

Kimbro, Rachel and Elizabeth Rigby. (2010). “School Lunch Programs Help Reverse Childhood Obesity,” The Houston Chronicle,  B11, Friday March 5, 2010.

Rigby, Elizabeth and Michelle Belco (2009). “Providing Public Goods: Alternative Policy Approaches,” in Kent Tedin (Ed.), The People and American Government, Volume II. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2009). “On this of all MLK Days, Commit to Service Projects.” The Houston Chronicle, Monday January 19, 2009.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2008). “Why I am Thankful for Big Government.” The Houston Chronicle, E1, Sunday November 23, 2008.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2008). “Family Health Policies.”  In W. Kirch (Ed.). Encyclopedic Reference of Public Health.  Dresden: Springer.

Rigby, Elizabeth. (2007).” State Prekindergarten Programs.”  In R. New & M. Cochran (Eds).  Early Childhood Education: An International Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.
     [Also wrote entries on: Preschool Programs and the federal Child Care and Development Fund]  

Rigby, Elizabeth, Kagan, Sharon L., Ochshorn, Susan, and Fuller, Bruce. (2004). Infant and Toddler Child Care: Meeting the Needs of Families with Options that Work. Denver, CO: National Conference of State Legislatures.

Kagan, Sharon. L. and Rigby, Elizabeth. (2003). Policy Matters: Improving the Readiness of Children for School: Recommendations for State Policy (A Concept Paper Commissioned for the Policy Matters Project). Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Social Policy.

Classes Taught

PPPA 6002  Research Methods and Applied Statistics
PPPA 6011  Politics and Policy Analysis