Leonard's research is broadly focused on Political and Economic development, particularly in Africa and his specific interests include topics such as democratization, clientelism and redistributive politics, resource curse, and long-term social impact of historical events. He is the author of numerous publications in leading academic journals, including “The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa” (with Nathan Nunn), in the American Economic Review; “The Paradox of “Warlord” Democracy: A Theoretical Investigation,” in the American Political Science Review (2004); Clientelism and Voting Behavior: A Field Experiment in Benin, World Politics (2003) as well as “Electoral Competition under the Threat of Political Unrest” (with Matthew Ellman) in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (2000).
Professor Wantchekon is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Executive Committee of the Council for International Teaching and Research at Princeton. He served as the Secretary of the American Political Science Association (2008-2009) and on the Ibrahim Index Technical Committee (2009-2013). Finally, he is a core partner director at the Afrobarometer Network and the founder the Africa School of Economics (ASE) set to open in Benin in 2014.