Research

2005

This paper reports findings of a study examining child-, classroom-, and school-level factors that effect academic achievement among public school children in the South. Using ECLS-K data, we compare and contrast the learning environments in high/low minority and high/low poverty schools. A sizeable minority of Southern children attend schools that are race and/or class segregated; on multiple dimensions these schools are less desirable than are schools attended by more privileged children, and children attending these schools have lower levels of academic achievement.

2004

Refugees are typically poorer than other immigrants and native born, although the average difference is smal, with changes in the unemployment rate explaining most of the difference in poverty rates. In times of recession, or in areas with particularly high unemployment rates, refugees will fare worse, perhaps due to concentrations of refugees in industries with higher cyclical variation in unemployment. We also find that refugees’ poverty rates start higher but fall more rapidly with time, suggesting that refugees assimilate more rapidly than other immigrants.

In this paper I exploit the fact that the social and economic reforms over the past two decades differentially affected the opportunity costs of non-participation in work, welfare, and disability programs for single mothers across different birth-year and education cohorts. This cohort variation in after-tax wages and transfer benefits is used to identify own- and cross-price elasticities of demand for and substitution across wage, welfare, and disability income over 1979 to 2001 in the Current Population Survey.

This study examines whether regional variations in health status measures are consistent across the income gradient, or whether they are more pronounced at the lowest income levels. We use data from the Community Tracking Survey, a large randomized telephone survey of residents in 60 U.S. communities. Controlling for individual risk factors and county level income inequality, lowest income individuals have poorer scores on counts of chronic diseases, global health ratings, and the physical and mental components of the SF-12.

The black-white earnings gap has historically been larger in the South than in other regions of the United States. This paper shows that this regional gap has closed over time, and in fact reversed during the last decades of the twentieth century. Three proposed explanations for this trend focus on changing patterns of selective migration, reduced discrimination in Southern labor markets, and lower levels of school segregation and school resource disparities in the modern South relative to the North.

The 1990s witnessed a significant geographic redistribution of immigration away from the traditional immigrant-receiving states, mainly California, and towards other parts of the country, mainly the Southern states that have not historically been immigrant-receiving states. This paper documents the impact of this change in immigrant settlement patterns on the skill endowment of the workforce in Southern states.

We estimate a model of food stamp program participation allowing for differences between refugees and immigrants. The model examines pre and post reform participation. It further isolates the effect of local labor markets. Using auxiliary information from the INS’ Statistical Yearbooks we are able to identify the impact refugee status has on participation. We demonstrate that regressions using ad hoc variables are subject to severe measurement error bias. We also correct for measurement error in the report of food stamp participation.

Agricultural entrepreneurship is receiving heightened attention as a potential means for economic revitalization of communities adversely affected by changes in the agricultural sector. In particular, resource limited farmers in the Appalachian region of the United States have been hit by major changes in the tobacco industry. Very little is known about resource limited farmers respond to changing industry conditions and policy attempts to remedy structural change.

2003

The extent to which means-tested transfers, social insurance, and tax credits fill the gap between family’s private resources and the poverty threshold is a periodic barometer of the social safety net. Using data on families from the Current Population Survey I examine how the level and composition of before- and after-tax and after-transfer poverty gaps changed in response to changes in the policy and economic landscapes over the past two decades.

There is spirited debate between those who maintain that public assistance to the poor decreases poverty by raising their incomes (an income enhancement effect) and those who contend that welfare increases poverty by discouraging the poor from working (a work disincentive effect). Extant studies have been inconclusive because they have focused on the effect of welfare benefits on the poverty rate, but have not employed designs that allow researchers to sort out distinct income enhancement and work disincentive effects.