Professor Isabela Mares is the author of three single-authored books.

A recently completed book, entitled From open secrets to secret voting: The adoption of electoral reforms protecting voters against electoral intimidation will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2015. This book examines an under-explored dimension in the process of democratization, namely the adoption of electoral reforms that reduced opportunities for electoral intimidation and vote buying. It explores the economic and political factors that affected the incentives of politicians to support the adoption of legislation that provided a better protection of electoral secrecy and the consequences of these reforms for the development of political parties.

The starting premise of the analysis is that imperfections in the protection of electoral secrecy created ample political opportunities for electoral irregularities during the first wave of democratization.  However, these political opportunities were unequally distributed across districts. The first part of the book examines how economic and political conditions affected the costs of electoral intimidation and the incentives of politicians to rely on employees of the state and private actors to influence the electoral choices made by voters. The book tests these arguments using both a disaggregated analysis of the petitions for electoral irregularities and a quantitative analysis of the electoral petitions submitted to the German Reichstag.

A second part of the book examines the factors that affected the incentives of politicians to support electoral reforms that provided a better protection of electoral secrecy. It argues that support for electoral reforms came from politicians that faced relatively higher costs of electoral intimidation in their districts. The book tests these propositions through an examination of the economic and political factors that predict legislative support for improved protection in the secrecy of the ballot. I find that economic conditions in a district that increase the costs of electoral intimidation — such as labor scarcity or high levels of occupational heterogeneity — are, at the same strong predictors of support for electoral secrecy.

The third part of the book examines the electoral consequences of legislation protecting electoral secrecy. The protection of electoral secrecy had a strong effect on the willingness of voters to take electoral risks and support opposition candidates. By raising the costs of electoral intimidation of candidates on the right, these electoral reforms weakened the ability of these parties to compete. These changes in the translation of seats to votes are the immediate factor that contributed to a change in the position of these parties on the right about the desirability of electoral reform and contributed to the formation of a political majority supporting the adoption of proportional representation.

Taxation, wage bargaining and unemployment (New York: Cambridge University Press 2006) relies on a combination of game theoretic models, quantitative and qualitative research to provide an examination of cross-national and temporal variation in the employment performance of advanced industrialized countries. In theoretic terms, the book provides an extension of the Calmfors-Driffill model of wage determination to consider how considerations about social policy affect (through their effect on the utility of unions) the wage setting process and resulting levels of employment. The book shows both theoretically and empirically how increases in fiscal tax burden, a change in the composition of social policy transfers and a growth in the transfers going to labor market outsiders have constrained the ability of the wage bargaining process to restore high levels of unemployment despite the existence of wage moderation.

The politics of social risk: business and welfare state development (New York: Cambridge University Press 2003). Winner of the Gregory Luebbert Award for the best book in comparative politics awarded by the American Political Science Association and of the best book award awarded by the Council for European Studies.

This book provides a theoretical and empirical reinterpretation of the political foundations of the modern welfare state. I show that the incidence of risk is the central factor predicting support for or opposition to encompassing social insurance policies. The adoption of social insurance, I argue, does not result from political conflict between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ voters or between organizations representing labor and employers but results from cross-class alliances among sectors with a high risk profile. Empirically, the book draws on a wealth of primary evidence covering over a century of social policy development in two countries, France and Germany, to document the importance of cross-class alliances in explaining the adoption of redistributive insurance or its failure.