Merike Blofield


I am Professor of Political Science at the University of Hamburg, with a focus on global health and social policy.

(Note: my current contact email is Do not use the link in my contact information -it does not work)  

The enduring question my research addresses is: when and how do governments produce more equity-enhancing policies? With a focus on Latin America, I have analyzed policy areas that intersect social, health, family, gender and labor policy. My current collaborative research projects include: design and analysis of representative surveys of attitudes toward cash transfers in seven Latin American countries, with a focus on children (funded by the German Research Foundation DFG); analysis of policy efforts and outputs on domestic and sexual violence policies (I am heading the policy section of the Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People); and a project on enhancing the detection, diagnosis and treatment of the rising epidemic of syphilis at the Colombia-Venezuela border (funded by the German Society for International Cooperation GIZ).  I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on Latin American politics and comparative welfare regimes.  

Before moving over to the University of Hamburg in 2023 to focus on health and social policy, I was Director of the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies for over three years, where I had the pleasure to lead a vibrant community of junior and senior social science scholars researching a broad variety of topics in Latin American politics, society, economics and international relations. My leadership philosophy at the ILAS was to encourage, inspire, and model collaboration as the best means to achieve excellence. This is what we achieved together, when the Leibniz Association's external evaluation committee report in 2022 highlighted the achivements of our institute, stating that the ILAS had "developed excellently into a global reference institution" (pg.44, B-13). Before 2020, I was Professor of Political Science and Director of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Miami, where I received the May Brunson Award in 2019 for doing the most to improve the status of women at the university. 

Latest peer-reviewed research 

Our new Cambridge Element,The Politics of Social Protection during Times of Crisis (2023), with Jenny Pribble and Cecilia Giambruno, came out in July 2023.

Our Lancet article Setbacks in the quest for universal health coverage in Mexico: polarised politics, policy upheaval, and pandemic disruption, led by Felicia Knaul, came out on August 7th, 2023, and is open access.

The Oxford Handbook of Governance and Public Management of Social Policy (2023) is out! With Camila Arza and Fernando Filgueira, I am co-editor of the Latin America section. 

Our Lancet Global Health Viewpoint on linkages between cash transfers and intimate partner violence programming in Latin America is out, timed for the International Day to End Violence Against Women, November 25, 2021. 

Recent policy briefs 

Our brief report on our pilot health services project, to combat the rise of syphilis, especialy congenital syphilis, in Colombia, is out (December 2023) and available here . Implemented by CARE Colombia between March and August 2023, our team (myself, Rafael Olarte, Doris Parada and Magaly Pedraza) embedded three studies into the project, to investigate the relative weight of diffferent social determinants of syphilis. 

Together with Juliana Martinez Franzoni, we published in November 2023 seven country-specific policy briefs on public opinion on cash transfers toward children, in the first systematic study of its kind. They include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. 

See our G-7/T-7 policy brief, publihsed May 2022, Toward a Global Universal Basic Income for Children

Blogs and commentaries

Here is a March 2023 podcast on addressing and supporting survivors of gender-based violence through social protection, in which I participate. 

Here is our October 2022 commentary on the Bolsonaro government's record on gender-based violence policies, in the Latin America Advisor, published by the Inter-American Dialogue.

Here is my November 2021 EU-LAC blog calling for a new social contract for children in Latin America, en espanhol aqui 

Here is my November 2021 zoom commentary (at min.44) on the UNDP State of Human Development 2021 Report on Latin America and the Caribbean, presented by Director Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva 

Here is my November 2021 written commentary on gender-based violence policies in the Latin America Advisor, published by the Inter-American Dialogue

Here is a link to an August 2021 interview I did on the Corona crisis in Latin America, with Deutsche Welle. 

Personal profile 

I was born and raised in Finland, and earned my undergraduate and Masters’ degrees at York University in Canada. I completed my Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the United States. I have had the fortune to live in many cities (and five countries) across the Americas, and my daughters were born in São Paulo, Brazil. I moved back to Europe after many years in Miami, and now live in Hamburg, Germany.