Our Mission

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.

In the News


New Release: Reducing Intergenerational Poverty
NASEM Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Experiencing poverty during childhood can lead to lasting harmful effects that compromise not only children’s health and welfare but can also limit them to a lifetime of poverty that passes on to future generations. This cycle of economic disadvantages weighs heavily not only on these families but also the nation, reducing overall economic output and placing increased burden on the educational, criminal justice, and health care systems.


New paper published by former Ph.D. Student and CPIR Affiliate David Weissman

Dr. Weissman’s paper on the antipoverty programs and income disparities in brain structure and mental health was published by Nature Communications. David Weissman is the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in McLaughlin’s Stress & Development Lab at Harvard University. Former CPIR affiliate Dr. Weissman received his PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Davis, where he worked under the mentorship of CPIR affiliates Dr. Paul Hastings and Dr. Amanda Guyer.

Abstract: Macrostructural characteristics, such as cost of living and state-level anti-poverty programs relate to the magnitude of socioeconomic disparities in brain development and mental health. In this study we leveraged data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study from 10,633 9-11 year old youth (5115 female) across 17 states. Lower income was associated with smaller hippocampal volume and higher internalizing psychopathology. These associations were stronger in states with higher cost of living. However, in high cost of living states that provide more generous cash benefits for low-income families, socioeconomic disparities in hippocampal volume were reduced by 34%, such that the association of family income with hippocampal volume resembled that in the lowest cost of living states. We observed similar patterns for internalizing psychopathology. State-level anti-poverty programs and cost of living may be confounded with other factors related to neurodevelopment and mental health. However, the patterns were robust to controls for numerous state-level social, economic, and political characteristics. These findings suggest that state-level macrostructural characteristics, including the generosity of anti-poverty policies, are potentially relevant for addressing the relationship of low income with brain development and mental health.


Sociology PhD Candidate, Paola Langer, won the 2023 Population Association of America Poster Award for her work, State-Level Spending and Black–White Mortality Gaps

Sociology PhD Candidate, Paola Langer, won the 2023 Population Association of America Poster Award for her work,  State-Level Spending and Black–White Mortality Gaps 

Current Research

Article J. Paul Leigh

New Paper from CPIR Affiliate J. Paul Leigh
American Journal of Public Health
May 2023

COVID-19 May Have Been Job Related for One Fourth of Diagnosed Adults

We catch COVID-19 from each other. The fewer people we encounter,
the safer we will be. Our desire for fewer encounters was especially apparent in employment arrangements during the first two and a half years
of the pandemic. Most workers whom employers allowed to work from home did so; most whose employers did not allow this reported to their workplaces.

Article J. Paul Leigh

Estimating Effects of Wages on Smoking Prevalence Using Labor Unions as Instrumental Variables
New article by J. Paul Leigh

Objectives: To test for the effects of wages on smoking using labor unions as instrumental variables. Methods: We analyzed four waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (2013 to 2019 alternate years). The overall sample included workers aged 18 to 70 years in 2013 and subsamples within blue clerical/white-collar and private/public sector jobs (N = 37,117 to 8446 person years). We used two instrumental variables: worker’s union membership and states’ right-to-work laws.

Post J. Paul Leigh

New Paper Published by Affiliate J. Paul Leigh
American Journal of Epidemiology
July 2020

Invited Commentary: Methods for Estimating Effects of Minimum Wages on Health


UC Network on Child Health, Poverty, and Public Policy

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.

Meet the Researchers


Briana Ballis
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California-Merced

Briana Ballis is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of California-Merced. Her research interests are in labor economics. Much of her work focuses on studying the determinants of inequality in education. Through her work, she seeks to better understand how individuals’ educational investment decisions are shaped by their environments and backgrounds, and, in particular how policies or programs that impact vulnerable youth can sere to reduce (or exacerbate) pre-existing gaps in later life.


Katheryn Russ
Professor of Economics

Katheryn Russ has expertise in open-economy macroeconomics and international trade policy. She is a faculty research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research International Trade and Investment Group and Co-Organizer of the International Trade and Macroeconomics Working Group. She is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and served as Senior Economist for International Trade and Finance for the White House Council of Economic Advisors 2015-16.

(530) 752-9241

Robert Faris
Professor of Sociology

Robert Faris uses social network analysis to investigate how health risk behaviors, including bullying, dating violence, substance use, and delinquency, spread through social ties and are structured in the  social hierarchies of schools. His recent work shows that adolescents bully their own friends, as well as schoolmates with whom they share friends, to achieve higher social status, and examines the moderating role of network stability in this dynamic. 


Rose Kagawa
Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

Rose Kagawa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Kagawa conducts research on violence prevention and firearm policy and has particular interest in understanding how social and environmental contexts influence violence perpetration and victimization through the life course.


Lauren Au
Assistant Professor of Nutrition

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.

3215 Meyer Hall

Noli Brazil
Associate Professor of Community & Regional Development

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 migration.


Jennifer Falbe
Associate Professor of Nutrition and Human Development

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
Distinguished Professor of Psychology

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.

152 Young Hall
Davis, CA
(530) 752-6981

Marianne Page
Professor of Economics and Co-Director, Center for Poverty & Inequality

Marianne Page is a Professor of Economics and Co-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.

1138 Social Sciences & Humanities Building
Davis, CA
(530) 554-4940

Leticia M. Saucedo
Professor of Law

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.

2123 King Hall
Davis, CA
(530) 752-3426

Lisa R. Pruitt
Professor of Law

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.

1111 King Hall
Davis, CA
(530) 752-2750

Michal Kurlaender
Professor of 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.

127 School of Education Building
Davis, CA
(530) 752-3748

Ross A. Thompson
Distinguished Professor of Psychology

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.

279 Young Hall
Davis, CA
(530) 754-6663

Ming-Cheng Lo
Professor of Sociology

Ming-Cheng Miriam Lo’s poverty related research focuses on the health care experiences of low-income immigrants. 

2266 Social Sciences and Humanities Building
Davis, CA

Paul Hastings
Professor of Psychology

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.

283 Young Hall
Davis, CA
(530) 297-4438

Cassandra Hart
Associate Professor of Education

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.

(530) 752-5387

Giovanni Peri
Professor of Economics

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.

1140 Social Sciences & Humanities Building
Davis, CA
(530) 554-2304

Upcoming Events

Event Andrews Conference Room 2203 SS&H

Engage and Evade: How Latino Immigrant Families Manage Surveillance in Everyday Life
Asad L. Asad, Stanford University

Some eleven million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States, carving out lives amid a growing web of surveillance that threatens their and their families’ societal presence. Engage and Evade examines how undocumented immigrants navigate complex dynamics of surveillance and punishment, providing an extraordinary portrait of fear and hope on the margins.