The UC Davis Center for Poverty 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.
California’s housing crisis stems from an inadequate supply of affordable housing coupled with insufficient legal protections for renters and homeowners. The resulting access-to-justice challenge for low-income and modest-means residents is aggravated in rural areas by the underfunding of legal-aid organizations and the state’s rural lawyer shortage. All of these factors contribute to recent increases in the state’s homeless population. Free, high-quality Legal Aid is needed urgently. We recommend the passing of new laws that protect rural low-income renters and homeowners.
Parental divorce is generally associated with unfavorable outcomes for children, particularly with regard to education. But not every divorce is equally harmful for the children it affects. Why is this? In a recent study, we found that parental divorce does lower educational attainment, but only for children whose parents are statistically unlikely to separate. For these children, divorce is an unexpected shock to an otherwise privileged childhood.
Medicaid covers more than 72 million enrollees and represents over $500 billion in government spending annually. But does it improve the health of its beneficiaries? In a recent study, we investigated the relationship between Medicaid enrollment and mortality. To do so, we compared changes in mortality for near-elderly adults with low incomes in states that did and did not expand Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act. We found a decline of 0.132 percentage points in annual mortality associated with Medicaid expansion for this population.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) serves more than one-quarter of pregnant and postpartum women in the United States. In October 2009, the WIC food package underwent revisions to improve nutritional content. In a recent quasi-experimental study of more than two million California infants, we investigated the extent to which those revisions—which increased access to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk—resulted in improvements in maternal and infant health.
Economic hardship during childhood contributes to worse mental and physical health across the lifespan. Over the past decade, researchers have begun to highlight the behavioral and biological pathways that underlie these disparities, and to identify protective factors—supportive relationships, for example—that mitigate against their occurrence. In this brief, we summarize some of this recent research and the new challenges it presents. We also make suggestions to inform both policy and practice for youth experiencing economic hardship.
During economic downturns the social safety net can play a
critical role for families as well as for the economy more
broadly. Social programs can protect vulnerable families by
making it easier for them to continue to meet basic needs. The
social safety net can also act as a fiscal stimulus — increasing
government spending when other spending is in retreat — and, in
so doing, prevent further job loss. However, over the past couple
of decades there has been an important shift in U.S.
A new rule to restrict legal immigration, published by the Trump
administration this month, is sowing confusion and anxiety even
among immigrants not directly affected by it, as fear spreads
faster than facts, immigration and health policy experts say.
The rule would allow the federal government to more easily deny
permanent residency status, popularly known as green cards, or
entry visas to applicants who use — or are deemed likely to use —
federally funded food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid.
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’
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 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 worked on various issues
related to the U.S. safety net, education, and gender. Her
research has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics,
the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, and
the Journal of Labor Economics.
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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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In 2017, the US department of agriculture estimated that
approximately 1 in 7 U.S. households was “food insecure”: they
either lacked the money to purchase enough food, or to purchase
healthy food. Public policy advocates and politicians alike have
branded the prevailing hourly federal minimum wage of $7.25 a
“starvation wage,” yet the impact of raising the minimum wage on
consumer nutrition is surprisingly underexplored.