About Me

I’m a PhD candidate in sociology at The Ohio State University and research associate at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. My research focuses on the causes and consequences of rising economic inequality and insecurity for individuals, families, and communities. Much of my work work brings a political economy, demographic, and/or spatial lens to research on inequality, poverty, and mobility. I’m especially interested in how inequalities accumulate over the life course and across different market contexts, as well as the potential for social institutions and social policies to ameliorate them. You can learn more about my current research projects below.

I’m a member of Debt Lab , a collaborative research group housed in The Ohio State University’s department of sociology that studies credit, debt, inequality, and insecurity.

Prior to arriving at Ohio State, I received BAs in sociology and economics from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Interests

  • Inequality, Poverty, & Mobility
  • Economic Sociology
  • Credit, Wealth, & Debt
  • Work and Labor Markets
  • Education
  • Rural and Urban Sociology
  • Social Policy

Education

  • MA in sociology, 2020

    The Ohio State University

  • BA in sociology | BA in economics, 2018

    Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Current Research Projects

Student Debt and Geographic Disadvantage

During the early 2000s rates of college enrollment and completion rose for young adults from rural backgrounds at the same time that rising college costs and stagnating family incomes increased rates of student loan borrowing. Recently published in Rural Sociology , this paper examines geographic disparities in student debt accumulation among a recent national cohort of US college-goers from rural, suburban, and urban backgrounds. The article received the 2019-2020 Olaf Larson Graduate Student Paper Award from the Rural Sociological Society and was covered by The Rural Review , The Daily Yonder , and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education’s Research Minutes podcast.

Precarious Work and Racial-Ethnic Poverty Gaps in Later Life

Persistent racial-ethnic inequalities in later life are concerning given the social vulnerability of older adults. While lack of employment is often cited as a structural source of racial-ethnic inequalities in poverty, surprisingly little is known about the role of employment quality in maintaining racial-ethnic poverty gaps, particularly as it relates to precarious work. Drawing on theories of structural racism and life course cumulative disadvantage, Lora Phillips and I use Health and Retirement Study data to decompose the proportion of the Black-White and Latinx-White poverty gaps that can be attributed to inequalities in the institutional, temporal, and economic dimensions of precarious work. A draft of this in progress paper is available here .

Labor Unions, Debt, and Financial Inclusion in Young Adulthood

Labor unions reduce labor market inequality by increasing wages, compressing the wage distribution, stabilizing working hours, and offering more comprehensive and generous benefit packages. Less is known about whether and how unions influence workers’ financial security beyond the labor market, as reflected in wealth and debt. Using data from a cohort of young workers who came of age during a historical period of high inequality and insecurity, low unionization, and the deregulation of consumer credit markets, Rachel Dwyer and I are investigating how union coverage influences the types of debts held by workers around age 30.

Heterogeneous Impacts of Incarceration on Young Adult Wage Inequality

Incarceration often represents a turning point in the life course that constrains future labor market opportunities. Yet most existing research on the employment consequences of imprisonment focuses on average effects across the population. Simon Kolbeck and I are exploring the heterogeneous impacts of incarceration on wage inequality among a cohort of young men who grew up during a period of increasingly punitive “zero tolerance” criminal justice policies in the 1990s and early 2000s. We posit that young men with the lowest incarceration risk—defined by their structural, demographic, and behavioral characteristics—experience the greatest incarceration wage penalties as they confront stigma, barriers to education and human capital formation, and strained social ties after prison.

Housing Wealth, Debt, and Health and Well-Being among Older Homeowners

Supporting health and financial security in retirement is a critical social problem for the US and other nations experiencing population aging. Many older Americans partially self-insure against the risks of older age by accumulating assets, the most significant for many being home equity. A series of projects co-authored with Stephanie Moulton, Donald Haurin, Cäzilia Loibl, and colleagues investigate how housing wealth and mortgage debt influence the health and well-being of older adult homeowners. We find that access to credit in the form of mortgage borrowing is a key mechanism linking housing wealth to economic security and better health. A paper from this project was recently published in Applied Economics and Policy Perspectives .