CPI 2012-13 New Scholars Grant Competition Winners

The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality is pleased to announce the winners of our 2012-13 New Scholars Grant Competition:


Sarah Bruch, University of Iowa

How Safe Are the Safety Nets?

This project examines trends in how successfully the safety net is assisting low-income families as well as state variation in such trends. The analyses will be based on consistent measures of nine safety net programs observed in all fifty states between 1994 and 2010. The empirical anchor is an original data set with unique advantages for the task at hand: the State Safety Net Policy dataset (SSNP). Using comparable, state-level indicators for each program, the analyses will address the inequalities in what low-income families receive, the likelihood of receipt in different programs and jurisdictions, and the impact of these state-level policies on household poverty.


Jennifer Flashman, Yale University

That's What Friends Are For? The Role of Friends in the Maintenance of Socioeconomic Achievement Gaps

Inequality in the United States increased dramatically in the last 40 years. While attention is focused on the growing income gap between the very rich and everyone else, a parallel increase in educational inequality occurred among children and adolescents. Today, the achievement gap between children in high versus low income families is 30 to 40 percent larger than it was 25 years ago. In this project I study the role that friends play in the maintenance of achievement differentials across socioeconomic status. Using data from the saturated sample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and longitudinal social network models, I ask three key questions: 1) How does socioeconomic status structure the friendships of adolescents? 2) How does the academic make-up of adolescents' friendships affect their academic achievement? 3) To what extent do these friend effects explain the achievement disparities observed among adolescents from different SES backgrounds? In contrast to past research, I answer these questions together, studying the ways that friendships and behaviors co-evolve to influence population‐level patterns of inequality.


Margaret Gough, Harvard University

The Effect of the Economic Downturn on the Health and Well-being of Families: An Examination of Food Consumption Practices and Physical Activity

Has the economic downturn brought about a real deterioration in food consumption and in physical activity? Are families with unemployed family members especially vulnerable to such health effects? By studying these questions, this project can tease out some of the possibly hidden long-term consequences of the downturn, consequences that may be highly sensitive to economic hardship within families. The project will also explore the role of public and private assistance in mitigating any of these health effects as well as possible differences in experiences by race, ethnicity, gender, and education.


Daniel Shoag, Harvard Kennedy School

Persistent Unemployment: The Role of Migration and Housing

The process of spatial income convergence has slowed considerably in the last thirty years. Moreover, not only are place-based income differences becoming more entrenched, but so too are spatial differences in unemployment. This suggests the simple question: Why don’t workers move to where the jobs are? Using new data on online vacancies and job search behavior, this project examines how migration, up-skilling, and skill-mismatch work to clear labor markets across regions. It also explores how housing markets and regulations affect the role of migration in response to unemployment shocks.


Paul T. von Hippel, University of Texas, Austin

Trends in Family and Household Income Inequality Within and Between School Districts and States

The past four decades have witnessed a substantial increase in income inequality, especially among families with children. In addition, the same period has witnessed a substantial increase in residential segregation by income. High‐ and low‐income households are increasingly likely to live in separate states and counties; and within the same county or metropolitan area, high- and low‐income households are increasingly likely to live in separate neighborhoods. Despite agreement on these basic trends, it is unclear how important each trend is relative to the others. To what degree has the increase in total income inequality been driven by inequality within rather than between different geographic areas? This project aims to answer this question about trends in components of inequality and to solve associated methodological problems. The approach that is taken entails decomposing inequality of household and family income into three nested components: inequality between states, inequality between school districts within the same state, and inequality among households and families within individual school districts.