The UC Davis Center for Poverty & Inequality Research
mission is to facilitate non-partisan academic research on
poverty in the U.S., disseminate this research, and train
the next generation of poverty scholars. Our research agenda
includes four themed areas of focus: labor markets and poverty,
children and intergenerational transmission of poverty, the
non-traditional safety net, and immigration.
A decade after it passed into law, a majority of Americans now support the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a recent study, I investigated whether the policy itself, through its beneficiaries, changed public opinion and sowed the seeds of its own defense against efforts to repeal it. I found that individuals who enrolled in plans on the health insurance marketplaces had significantly more positive opinions of the ACA after implementation.
The Center for Poverty & Inequality Research (CPIR) at UC Davis
in collaboration with Howard University, Morehouse College and
Spelman College, hosts the UCD-SPREE program, which introduces
undergraduates from these institutions to poverty research in the
social sciences and helps them develop knowledge and skills for
Across the United States, the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are much greater for already disadvantaged people. The health and economic burdens faced by people experiencing homelessness make them especially vulnerable. This vulnerability has been heightened further by the widespread curtailing of crucial services for people experiencing homelessness following COVID-19 outbreaks at temporary shelters.
Systemic oppression makes the Latino community especially vulnerable to the economic, health, and psychological risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Latina mothers, in particular, must navigate the pandemic from their racialized, gendered, and classed positions while caring for children and families. In a recent study, conducted during California’s initial shelter-in-place mandate (March 20 – June 1, 2020), we surveyed 70 Latina mothers from Sacramento and Yolo Counties. We assessed stress, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms among these women.
Among disadvantaged groups, rates of postsecondary enrollment are disproportionately low, with undocumented immigrants facing particularly high barriers to college. In a recent study, we investigated the effects of a decrease in Colorado college tuition on college application and enrollment behavior. Specifically, we used student-level data to analyze a law that granted in-state tuition to certain undocumented students residing in Colorado. We found an increase in the credit hours and persistence of newly enrolled and likely undocumented students in the period after the law was introduced.
A profound change has been proposed by the Biden
administration for U.S. immigration law. Following up
on candidate Joe Biden’s promise of immigration reform
legislation, the U.S. Citizenship Act would eliminate the term
“alien” from the U.S. immigration laws.
The country’s bedrock immigration law, the Immigration and
Nationality Act, would be amended to say that “[t]he term
‘noncitizen’ means any person not a citizen or national of the
Maria Elena Hernandez recently retrieved a flowery box tucked in
her closet and dusted it off. For more than a decade, she has
used it to store tax returns, lease agreements and other
documents that she has collected to prove her family’s long years
of residence in the United States.
President Joe Biden on his first day in office sent Congress an
extensive immigration proposal that could have big implications
for California, which is home to the largest undocumented
immigrant population in the nation.
The plan, known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, would
provide a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million unauthorized
immigrants living in the United States. About 2 million of them
live in California.
The goal of this UCOP-funded pilot program on Child Health,
Poverty and Public Policy is to lay the foundation for a UC-wide
network of scholars who are committed to rigorous cross-training
in multiple disciplinary-specific skills and “languages” that are
necessary to produce a comprehensive understanding of the
mechanisms by which health and nutrition programs (e.g.
Although a growing number of studies suggest that providing poor
families with income supplements of as little as $1,000 per
year will improve children’s well-being, many poor children
miss important sources of income support provided through the tax
system because their parents either do not work or do not
file taxes. Accessing assistance through means-tested programs is
Do mothers’ biological responses to stress transfer to her child?
This is a question addressed in a recently published study by
Leah Hibel of UC Davis and Evelyn Mercado of UCLA. Though prior
reports have shown that mothers help their children regulate
distress through calming and soothing, there are few studies that
examine the ways in which a mother facing stress might transmit
stress to her child. This study shows that mothers transmit
stress to their infants and that mothers’ emotions appear to play
a role in this transmission.
Exclusionary immigration policies have led to a sizeable
undocumented population that is largely barred from access to
resources in the United States, however there is little research
that looks at the impact of legal status on immigrants’
Dr. Au’s research involves the assessment of dietary intakes and
the food environment for the prevention of obesity in low-income,
racially diverse infants and children. Her focus is on
understanding how to promote healthier eating and prevent obesity
in federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Special
Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
and the National School Lunch Program.
Jasmine E. Harris earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her
A.B. from Dartmouth College. Professor Harris’s research
focuses on the role of disability rights in the overall
antidiscrimination agenda. She uses procedural laws and
interdisciplinary research to consider how law can advance social
norms of disability. Her articles have appeared in such
leading legal journals as the Columbia Law Review, New York
University Law Review, Ohio State Law Review, and American
University Law Review. Professor Harris is also a faculty
affiliate of the Aoki Center on Race and Nation Studies.
Noli Brazil received his doctorate in Demography from the
University of California Berkeley in 2013, and is an Assistant
Professor in the Department of Human Ecology. His research and
teaching interests focus on the causes and consequences of
neighborhood inequality. Current research projects include
examining the interactions between neighborhoods and schools,
understanding the determinants of residential mobility and
attainment during young adulthood, and Hispanic US internal
Dr. Falbe’s research focuses on studying programmatic, policy,
and environmental interventions to prevent chronic disease and
reduce health disparities. Dr. Falbe led an evaluation of the
nation’s first soda tax in Berkeley, California. Her research has
also examined primary care nutrition and physical activity
interventions for youth, healthy retail programs, and
multi-sector community interventions to prevent obesity. Dr.
Falbe received a dual doctorate in Nutrition and Epidemiology in
2013 from Harvard University.
Gail Goodman received her degree in Developmental Psychology from
UCLA in 1977. Her areas of research expertise include welfare
recipients, foster care, and the intergenerational transmission
of attachment insecurity.
Marianne Page is a Professor of Economics and Director
of the Center for Poverty & Inequality Research at UC
Davis. She has authored numerous scholarly articles
focusing on low-income families. A labor economist, she is
an expert on intergenerational mobility and equality of
opportunity in the United States. She has also published on
issues related to the U.S.
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Leticia Saucedo received her degree, cum laude, from
Harvard Law School in 1996. Her research centers on employment
and immigration law, immigrants in low-wage workplaces and the
structural dynamics affecting their entry.
Lisa Pruitt’s areas of research include legal and policy
implications of income inequality along the rural-urban continuum
and legal aspects of declining mobility, with an emphasis on
diminishing access to higher education.
Michal Kurlaender’s work focuses on education policy and
evaluation, particularly practices that address existing
racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequality at various stages of
the educational attainment process.
Ross A. Thompson’s research focuses on the applications of
developmental research to public policy concerns, including
school readiness and its development, early childhood
investments, and early mental health.
Paul Hastings received his degree from the University of Toronto.
His research focuses on the impact of stressors on child and
adolescent well-being, and the effects of poverty on
physiological reactivity, regulation and development of mental
and physical health problems.
Cassandra Hart is associate professor of education policy. She
evaluates the effects of school, state and national education
programs, policies, and practices on overall student achievement,
and on the equality of student outcomes. Hart’s recent work
has focused on school choice programs, school accountability
policies, early childhood education policies, and effects on
students of exposure to demographically similar teachers.
She is also interested in the effects of virtual schooling on
student outcomes, both in K-12 and post-secondary settings.
Giovanni Peri received his degree in Economics from UC Berkeley
in 1998. His research focuses on the determinants of
international migrations and their impact on labor markets,
productivity, and investments.
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Long-standing social and health inequities have put many people
from racial and ethnic minority groups at high risk during the
Covid-19 pandemic. Join our panel of research experts for a
discussion of the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on the
health and economic well-being of marginalized groups in the
U.S., and next steps for policy.