Projects in theme: Persistent Disparities In Health And Human Capital

Identity and Mobility: Historical Fractionalization, Parochial Institutions, and Occupational Choice in the American Midwest", 

Munshi examines the long-term effects of fractionalization arising from parochial institutions in the American Midwest. Individuals born in counties with greater ethnic fractionalization in 1860 are today more likely to participate in institutions such as churches and parochial schools and less likely to select into mobile skilled occupations.

Implementing School Choice in Charlotte, NC

Schooling choice can lead to persistent disparities if individuals in different groups have different levels of access to good schools or make different types of decisions about which schools to attend. This project investigates impacts on student outcomes, competitiveness and racial segregation as a result of the implementation of a new public-school choice system that was first approved in December 2001 by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. In this study, Hastings looks at the consequences of winning one’s first choice school in a choice lottery.

Long-Term Effects of the Mother's Pension Program on Adult Outcomes

Aizer is looking at the long-run effects of the Mother’s Pension program, which was established as early as 1911 in some states, and is the first government-sponsored welfare program in the U.S. It was designed to improve the conditions of young children that had become dependent through the loss or disability of the breadwinner. Because of the program’s historical nature, she can investigate the long-term effects of cash transfers to low-income families on a variety of outcomes, including educational attainment and earnings.

Maternal Smoking Behavior and Peer Effects

Aizer, along with Laura Stroud in Community Health, is examining the role of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on maternal smoking in changing smoking behavior during pregnancy and how these changes spread across educational groups. Their results suggest that not only were the educated more responsive to the initial announcement but, consistent with a peer-effects model, smoking reductions among the educated were more dramatic in areas of high educational segregation.

Neuromarkers of Age-Related Cognitive Decline

J. Hogan is providing biostatistical expertise on this project, designed to determine neuroimaging and genetic biomarkers of cognitive decline.

Prenatal Conditions and Postnatal Environments: Impact on Future Economic Status

Aizer (in collaboration with Laura Stroud and Stephen Buka in Community Health) explores the effects of maternal stress on child outcomes using a unique longitudinal data set. She finds that cortisol levels of low SES mothers are both higher on average and more variable, suggesting that prenatal stress may play an important role in explaining why relatively few children born into poverty are able to escape it as adults.

Race, Incarceration and American Values

High rates of incarceration are in part a consequence of persistent inequality and may have long-term impacts on economic and social well-being for individuals and communities. Loury recently focused on the rise in rates of incarceration, particularly among African Americans. In his recent book, Race, Incarceration and American Values: The Tanner Lectures, he argues that the disproportionately black and brown prison populations are the victims of civil-rights opponents who successfully moved the country's race dialogue to a seemingly race-neutral concern over crime.

Shaping Long-Term Care in America

Foster, along with a former student, evaluates how race-based preferences and geographical distance affect nursing home sorting. He finds that the resulting segregation exacerbates racial disparities in the quality of nursing-home care. In addition to peer-reviewed academic papers, this project resulted in a repository of long-term care data and state policies, and a Web site providing access to policies, provider data, and a quality-based map of LTC providers by location.

Social Inequalities: The Intertwining of Human Difference and Environments

Recent advances in genomic science, and understandings of biological difference, present new research opportunity in regard to social inequality.  In particular, researchers can consider more explicitly whether and how human physiology is relevant to institutional and structural explanations of inequality.  This grant supports the PI in development of this line of inquiry through funding training in relevant areas of inquiry outside of sociology.

The Economic Determinants of Domestic Violence

Aizer applies economic models of bargaining and econometric techniques to estimate the causes and consequences of domestic violence. Aizer shows that there is a negative causal relationship between violence during pregnancy and newborn health, exploiting for identification variation in the enforcement of laws against domestic violence. Her findings show that a decrease in the male-female wage gap can improve the health of women via reductions in violence.