2021 Grant Recipients
Assessing the Effects of Immigration Discourse on Subjective Evaluations of Americanness and Resource Allocation
Joshua Feigenbaum Award
Victoria Asbury is a PhD candidate in sociology at Harvard University. She is a cultural sociologist who engages innovative methods to provide empirical knowledge about American identity, racial attitudes, immigration, and US politics.
In “Assessing the Effects of Immigration Discourse on Subjective Evaluations of Americanness,” Victoria takes an innovative multidimensional experimental approach to assess the relative weight of ascribed (e.g. nativity, race, and gender) and morally imbued acquired characteristics in conceptions of national belonging. Furthermore, she uses experimental manipulations informed by original computational text analyses of nearly 28,000 political documents from national Democratic and Republican lawmakers to show how language oriented towards breaking down or propping up boundaries between immigrants and native-born citizens can alter evaluations of national belonging. This work is based on an original nation-wide study conducted by YouGov in August 2021 of 4,500 non-Hispanic White Americans.
This research provides a fuller, multidimensional gradational portrait of who is and is not considered “truly American” by White people in the United States. Furthermore, this work shows that prototypical immigration discourse can influence the perceived importance of ascribed and acquired characteristics for national belonging.
Benjamin A. Barsky
Assessing Individual and Structural Factors Associated with Opioid Mortality among Recently Incarcerated Individuals in Massachusetts
Benjamin A. Barsky is a Ph.D. candidate in Health Policy at Harvard University. Ben researches in the areas of health law and justice, mental health policy, and disability rights. He received his J.D. and Master of Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and B.A. from Johns Hopkins University.
Opioid overdose is the leading cause of death among recently released incarcerated individuals. The risk of opioid mortality is also highest in the first two weeks after release, accentuating the need for social and health care supports immediately upon release. Still, little is known about (1) person-level characteristics (e.g., length of incarceration, health status) that drive opioid mortality after release; (2) the role of place and geographic context in influencing opioid-related incidents; and (3) the preventive and protective effect of health care safety net resources, including public health insurance and targeted opioid use disorder treatment programs. This study promises to fill these gaps in the literature. In so doing, it intends to (1) identify specific interventions that will improve health outcomes among recently released incarcerated individuals and (2) inform the design of laws, policies, and programs that allow for healthier transitions back into the community.
Beyond Conviction: Criminal Court Processes and their Implications for Inequality
Lindsay Bing is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and co-founder of the Texas Prison Education Initiative, a program offering college courses inside Texas prisons. Bing's research focuses on how the American criminal legal system shapes life chances at the individual and population level.
Amidst rising awareness of the harms of mass incarceration, states are expanding legal interventions that allow defendants to avoid the mark of criminal conviction. Bing's dissertation uses a unique compilation of linked administrative data to investigate the changing contours and consequences of criminal legal contact, asking whether and how the expansion of alternatives to conviction affects inequality and social mobility.
Ana P. Canedo
The Economic and Social Consequences of Return Migration to Mexico
Ana Canedo is a PhD candidate in Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. Her research lies at the intersection of economic inequality and social policy, with a special focus on immigration policy, education, and labor markets.
Her dissertation explores how return migration from the U.S. to Mexico ––both voluntary and forced–– affects the economic and social prospects of Mexico’s population. While the social and labor market effects of immigration inflows on the U.S. have attracted a lot of attention among researchers, the consequences of return migration on the home country have been comparatively under-researched. This is rather surprising since a large proportion of migrants return home at some point in their life, bringing back with them their accumulated savings, acquired knowledge, and human and social capital. The project employs mixed methods, including a combination of linear fixed effects regression models and instrumental variable analysis, discrete-time models, and semi-structured interviews to address the gaps in our understanding of the economic and social consequences of return migration to Mexico.
Examining the Direct and Indirect Effects of Contraceptive Access
Neko Michelle Castleberry is a doctoral candidate in American University's Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research interests include policies regarding family planning, reproductive health care, LGBTQ+ health disparities, and gender equality. Prior to pursuing her PhD, she conducted research at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Focusing on state and federal policies that eliminate contraceptive costs for users, this dissertation examines the direct effects of no-cost contraceptives on contraceptive usage and likelihood of unintended birth, as well as the indirect effects of mothers having access to no-cost contraceptives on the health of young children.
The Color of Homelessness: The Causes, Reproduction, and Consequences of Racial Inequality in Homelessness
Matt Fowle is a PhD Candidate in Public Policy and Management at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research uncovers how public policies and institutions can either reinforce or undermine housing security and well-being among low-income households of color.
“The Color of Homelessness: The Causes, Reproduction, and Consequences of Racial Inequality in Homelessness,” examines three crucial questions on racial inequality in homelessness: 1) What causes it? 2) What reproduces it? and 3) What are its consequences? Employing qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods, he interrogates the extent to which racial disparities in homelessness are both a key outcome of inequities produced by public policies and social institutions and a primary factor in reproducing downward intergenerational mobility and premature death.
Investigating the Relationship between Jails, Incarceration, and Health Care Institutions
Konrad Franco is a PhD candidate in Sociology at UC Davis. His research broadly pertains to punishment and health. He primarily uses quantitative methods paired with contemporary and historical administrative data to study jails, prisons, immigration detention centers, clinics, and hospitals.
Franco's dissertation is focused on the relationship between county jails and the various health care facilities that provide treatment for mental health disorders, substance use disorders, or general acute needs. He uses quasi-experimental research designs to investigate if the availability of inpatient or outpatient mental health care treatment contributes to either changes in jail incarceration or the health of the incarcerated. He also evaluates the negative spillover effects of jail infrastructure on nearby clinics and hospitals.
An Evaluation of Crime-Free Housing Ordinances
Donald R. Cressey Award
Max Griswold is a PhD student and policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. His research focuses on how health, housing, and criminal justice policies create inequitable outcomes within marginalized communities.
Over 2000 US cities have crime-free housing ordinances (CFHOs), including 150 cities within California. Despite the prevalence of CFHOs, no previous research has investigated if this policy achieves its stated aim of reducing crime within cities. Evaluating this policy is particularly important given the potential to limit civil rights: CFHOs require low-income housing units to include a supplemental lease agreement as part of their standard lease, stating law enforcement can compel landlords to evict tenants, even without an arrest or conviction for a crime. This project aims to evaluate the effects of CFHOs within cities using a combination of causal identification strategies and semi-structured interviews with community-based organizations and community members.
Patching Up the Safety Net: The Negotiation and Construction of Long-Term Care Systems in the U.S.
Eli Ginzberg Award
Erin Ice is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Erin’s research investigates how an aging population challenges and reorganizes contemporary family life and welfare state arrangements.
Her dissertation project interrogates policymakers' push to “age in place.” To do so, she studies how kin caregivers and aging adults manage health and residential transitions. With interview, ethnographic, and survey data, she outlines the multiple ways that independence gets invoked, performed, and prioritized in caregiving relationships. These ideals of independence both strain and alleviate the work involved to make “aging in place” a reality.
Dealing with the Perpetrators of Gross Human Rights Violations Abroad: A Study of the use of “Magnitsky” Sanctions
Harold D. Lasswell Award
Yifan Jia is a PhD candidate in law at King’s College London. She is a qualified lawyer and practiced criminal law in Beijing before joining King's. Her research interests are human rights law, criminal law and criminal justice, especially from transnational and international perspectives.
Jia’s project investigates, on the one hand, the human rights-centered justification of global human rights sanctions regimes, and on the other hand, potential human rights concerns arising when they are used, and the risk of undue ‘politicization’ of decisions to impose sanctions. The project also aims to examine the impacts of global human rights sanctions regimes.
Estimating the Unintended and Racialized Consequences of the Police-Centric Response to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Sandhya Kajeepeta is a Senior Researcher at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and a PhD candidate in epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the public health consequences of criminalization and incarceration and the impacts of criminal legal responses to violence.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an urgent public health and public safety problem that constitutes a growing proportion of violent crime. Since the 1980s, policing has been the US's primary response to IPV despite inconclusive evidence of its effectiveness and increased recognition of the harms of mass criminalization. The police-centric response to IPV, including mandatory arrest laws, may have unintended consequences for survivor health and safety, and these consequences may disproportionately harm survivors of color. Sandhya's dissertation research aims to estimate such unintended and racialized consequences of the policing response to IPV.
Uncounted and Invisible: The Lives and Health of H-2A Workers in Ohio
Anisa Kline is a PhD candidate in the Geography Department at the Ohio State University and a board member of MHPSalud, a national nonprofit that promotes community health workers in Latino communities. Her academic background is in Spanish and Latin American Studies.
Her current project utilizes a mixed methods survey of Mexican and Central American agricultural guestworkers throughout Ohio to examine how their working and living arrangements impact their health, occupational safety, and healthcare access. Inspired by the summer she spent doing farmworker outreach, her research aims to identify potential policy changes that could improve the health and wellbeing of this population.
Pay-As-You-Go Healthcare: The Effects of Ungated Healthcare on Formal Insurance Markets
Irving Louis Horowitz Award
Sarah Kotb is a PhD Candidate at Harvard's Health Policy program and its economics track. Her research interests lie in public insurance programs and the tradeoffs involved in their design. Prior to starting her PhD, Sarah worked as a Research Fellow at the Stanford Law School.
Sarah's project aims to examine how formal health insurance markets respond to the provision of care that is ungated by insurance such as subsidized clinics and state-sponsored programs for the uninsured. With the increasing availability of these free and subsidized sources of care, prior research has hypothesized that some groups may have less of an incentive to purchase formal insurance that requires monthly premiums and/or have high deductibles. The project will empirically examine the extent to which this effect takes place and whether it is particularly pronounced among healthy groups leading to adverse selection.
Three Papers on Childcare and Labor Supply
Sarah Jiyoon Kwon is a Social Policy Analysis PhD candidate at Columbia University School of Social Work. Her research is motivated by a desire to promote the lives of children and families. She studies family and child policy and its effect on child care experiences, child development, and family well-being.
Sarah’s dissertation includes three papers that examine the role of child care policy in promoting early childhood education and care and parent labor supply. The first paper examines the heterogeneous effects of universal prekindergarten (UPK) on center-based care enrollments and child care expenditures by household income with a specific focus on middle-income children who experience a “child care squeeze.” The second paper explores the effect of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) on center-based care enrollments and maternal labor supply using a simulated instrument approach. Finally, the third paper investigates whether and to what extent grandparents can play a buffering role in the labor supply of parents of children aged 0-5 during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of grandparental care specifically and home-based care and informal care in general in times of a health and child care crisis.
Employing the Unemployed of Marienthal: Evaluation of Guaranteed Job Program
Lukas Lehner is a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford. He researches labor market policies and has founded the Oxford Supertracker. Previously, he worked as an economist at the OECD in Paris and at the International Labour Organization in Geneva.
His project consists of a randomized control trial and synthetic control method to evaluate a pilot job guarantee program. The program provides employment opportunities to long-term unemployed and is implemented by the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS). It has been featured by the OECD, ILO, Financial Times, Forbes, and CNN.
Is the Gender Wage Gap Mitigated or Exacerbated by Family Policies? Evidence from a Cross-National Analysis of OECD Countries
John L. Stanley Award
Meiying Li is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the USC. Her research interests include gender inequality, family policies, and quantitative methods. Her publications include a review of how work-family reconciliation policies have affected gender inequality, and how neighborhood inequality has perpetuated unequal access to COVID vaccination.
Due to the Build Back Better legislation, early childhood education and care (ECEC) and paid parental leave are in the spotlight. Although the benefits of such policies are clear for children and families, the effects on gender wage inequality are unclear. This dissertation evaluates how these policies affect gender wage inequality. Specifically, I examine the possibility that family policies exacerbate gender inequality, especially in high-skilled occupations. I argue that these consequences are associated only with long paid leaves (over 9 months), but shorter leaves and ECEC actually mitigate gender-based inequality. The results will help reconcile the opposing points of view.
A Tale of Two Credits: Contested Algorithms of Trust of Chinese Social Credit Systems
Chuncheng Liu is a sociology and science studies PhD candidate at the University of California San Diego. He studies how states and markets classify and quantify people, with a particular interest in the politics of algorithms.
Liu's dissertation project utilizes ethnography and surveys to examine the Chinese social credit systems (SCSs), which evaluate citizens’ trustworthiness into scores with different algorithms. He explores the design, implementation, and perception of SCSs across different stages to unpack the mechanism and consequences of the algorithms on the ground.
What Changed? Cumulative (Dis)Advantage and the Role of Social Policy in Black-White Infant Health Disparities
Martinus Nijhoff Award
Nicholas Mark is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at New York University. He studies the causal mechanisms linking racism and social conditions to inequality in educational and health outcomes, with an emphasis on understanding the potential for social policy to reduce disparities.
Nick's dissertation assesses the potential for social policy to influence racial inequality in infant health. He first presents a rich description of Black-White inequality in birth weight across age, space, and time. He then estimates the causal effects of specific policies and harmful exposures to better understand how policy could be targeted to reduce inequality.
Writing the Right Thing: Do Counselor Recommendation Letters Promote Equity in Selective College Admission?
Tara Nicola is a PhD candidate in Education at Harvard University. Her research focuses on issues concerning access, choice, and equity in higher education, especially in relation to the college admission process. She holds an MSc from the University of Oxford and a BA from Johns Hopkins University.
Nicola's dissertation explores the landscape of counselor recommendation letters for undergraduate admission. Although most selective colleges require undergraduate applicants to submit a high school counselor recommendation letter, it is unknown if systematic differences exist in what counselors share. Nicola uses machine learning and natural language processing techniques to document the content and features of letters at scale, showing the ways this application component designed to ameliorate inequity in the selective college admission process can perpetuate it instead.
Understanding the Variation in Social Policies for Vulnerable Children in Europe: Policies, Politics, and Outcomes
Robert K. Merton Award
Ertuğrul is a PhD student in Social Policy at the University of Oxford. He has worked for various non-governmental and international organizations as a country expert and policy analyst. His research interests include child and family policies, child poverty, political representation and politics of social policy.
Ertugrul's dissertation aims to investigate the conditions suitable for the development of social policies for disadvantaged children in European welfare states, where they have emerged as one of the most vulnerable groups in recent years. Why do some countries promote children’s welfare, while others do not? To understand this variation, Ertugrul's PhD project examines the role of social and political actors, such as governments, political parties, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, international organizations and human rights advocates in promoting children’s welfare.
Hidden in Carceral Sight: A Qualitative Examination of Youth Sexual Victimization in Detention
Amber is a Sociology PhD Candidate at the University of Minnesota and an American Bar Fellow National Science Foundation Law & Inequality Fellow and Ruth Peterson Fellow. Her research interests include the law, crime, punishment, and racialized gendered violence.
7.1% of youth in juvenile detention facilities and 2 percent of youth in adult facilities report sexual victimization. Yet, few sociolegal or criminological studies have examined how sexual violence occurs within youth detention. Using 76 interviews with legal practioners and formerly incarcerated survivors and over 150 legal documents, my dissertation investigates how carceral institutions reproduce, frame, and respond to sexual victimization in youth detention.
Algorithmic Fairness in Practice: How Judge Discretion Interacts with a Sentencing Risk Assessment Instrument
Dasha Pruss is a PhD candidate in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She uses qualitative, quantitative, and theoretical approaches to study the social impacts of AI/ML systems. Her dissertation focuses on predictive algorithms used in the criminal legal system, including risk assessment instruments.
Risk assessment instruments are often presented as a progressive judicial reform – a way of reducing bias in sentencing, abolishing cash bail, and reducing mass incarceration. In reality, little is known about whether and how risk assessment instruments promote these progressive goals. This project empirically studies the impacts of the Sentence Risk Assessment Instrument, a new recidivism risk assessment instrument used in sentencing decisions in Pennsylvania criminal courts. The project focuses on the interaction between judicial discretion and risk assessment recommendations. Qualitatively, it analyzes how judges interpret and use these recommendations. Quantitatively, it assesses how often judicial decisions conform to recommendations for different kinds of defendants.
The Impact of Paid Sick Leave Mandates on Women’s Employment, Wellbeing and Health
Meredith Slopen is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Policy Analysis at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Her research focuses on workplace and labor policies as social determinants of health and family wellbeing.
Slopen's dissertation examines the potential of paid sick leave (PSL) mandates to improve health, health care utilization, workforce participation, and economic security among women in the United States. The findings will increase understanding of how sick leave may provide workplace flexibility to support families, particularly low-income women and mothers.
Sick by Structure: Residential Segregation, Social Networks, and Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Health
Nicholas C. Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington. His research employs quantitative methods to investigate social factors that produce, maintain, and exacerbate racial-ethnic disparities in health.
Nicholas’ dissertation employs multilevel quantitative methods to investigate social network processes linking residential segregation to health and health disparities among Black, White, and Hispanic Americans. Specifically, he asks: (1) What is the relationship between residential segregation and health for Black, White, and Hispanic Americans? (2) Does residential segregation attenuate or exacerbate racial-ethnic disparities in health? (3) How, if at all, does residential segregation produce racial-ethnic differences in structural, compositional, and functional characteristics of social networks? (4) Do structural, compositional, and functional characteristics of social networks mediate and/or moderate the association between residential segregation and health across racial-ethnic groups?
Documenting the Undocumented: Tracking Central American Resettlement and Integration in Mexico
Levi Vonk is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in Medical Anthropology at UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco. His first book, Border Hacker (2022), is a work of creative nonfiction that follows the journey of one undocumented migrant hacker across Mexico.
Levi's ethnographic research investigates Central American migrants' uneven access to labor protections, banking, and legalization processes in Mexico, especially in regards to temporary documents known as "humanitarian visas" currently replacing a portion of the country's traditional asylum system.