Refereed Publications

Is There Wealth Stability Across Generations? Evidence from Panel Study, 1984-2017. Contemporary Economic Policy, July 2022. (Download Here) (Media: Marketplace)

Abstract: The net wealth accumulation of grandparents appears to be strongly determinative of the net wealth holdings of their adult grandchildren. While these general features are understood, few details are known about the persistence of wealth components that determine overall portfolio outcomes and their variance. I find that grandparental linkages in household portfolio components (risky assets, safe assets, non-financial assets) are strongly positively correlated with the asset components of the current generation. Meanwhile, I find that there is persistence in intergroup disparities in wealth components, accounting for the intergenerational transfers of wealth from grandparents and parents. My decompositions of net wealth into risky, safe, and non-financial assets illuminate different policy implications connected to total wealth accumulation and wealth inequality across younger households. 

Economic Insecurity in the Family Tree and the Racial Wealth Gap (with Darrick Hamilton). Review of Evolutionary Political Economy, June 2022. (Download Here) (Media: The Atlantic)

Abstract: Previous research demonstrates that middle income households are facing high prevalence of economic insecurity in relatives associated with altruistic transfers to relatives in need. We examine the idea that wealth accumulation will be greatly weakened for middle income households with proximity to a larger kin network of economic hardship. The focus of our examination is across and within generations; members of the same family tree that have grown up in different public policy regimes. Using panel data on U.S. families, by horizontally adding cousins, along with siblings, and vertically adding grandparents, along with parents, we extend the breadth and depth of the work of Chiteji and Hamilton (2002). We find that, compared to their white counterparts, third generation middle income black families are disproportionately exposed to relatives that face poverty, unemployment, and wealth disparity. A decomposition of the wealth disparity reveals that economic insecurity in the family tree is one of the largest contributors to the black-white wealth gap among middle income earners in the third generation. Our results show that the impacts across different public policy regimes are still relevant today.

Intergenerational Economic Mobility and the Racial Wealth Gap (with Cassandra Robertson). American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, May 2021. (Download Here) (Media: EJB Talks)

Abstract: A growing body of research documents the importance of wealth and the racial wealth gap in perpetuating inequality across generations. We add to this literature by examining the impact of wealth on child income. Our two stage least squares regressions reveal that grandparental and parental wealth have an important effect on the younger generation’s stock (first stage results), which in turn affects the younger generation’s household income (second stage results). We further explore the relationship between income and wealth by decomposing the child’s income by race. We find that the intergroup disparity in income is mainly attributable to differences in family background. These findings indicate that wealth is an important source of income inequality.

“Raced” Organizations and the Academic Success of URM Faculty Members (with Kyle Moore, Ismael Cid Martinez, Jean Shin, Roberta Spalter-Roth, Jason Smith, Amber Kalb). Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, April 2019. (Download Here)

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether participating in “raced” organizations benefits under-represented minority (URM) faculty in their quest for tenure and promotion to associate professor in sociology. Raced organizations such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities began as segregated institutions since black students and faculty were prevented from attending or working in white-dominated institutions. Over time, raced organizations developed within the white-dominated institutions, and were often created in opposition to white or “mainstream” sociology. Latina/o organizations (including Hispanic-Serving Institutions) started years after ones for black scholars, and have followed a similar pattern and purpose. While historically white institutions no longer legally segregate URM organizations and activities, these organizations and activities often remain marginalized and devalued. We examine the relationship of participating in such organizations in contrast to publishing in peer reviewed journals for climbing the academic ladder at research extensive and other institutions. We find that there is a significant relationship between publishing and being promoted. URM faculty must follow the “publish or perish” model, following historically white male norms for an “ideal” career in the academic world. The work of black and Latina/o sociologists still appear to be marginalized. Only one type of raced organization or activity – belonging to a URM-oriented section of the American Sociological Association – is significantly related to upward mobility at either research extensive institutions. We conclude with a series of policy recommendations for increasing the academic status and well-being of URM faculty.

Who Climbs the Academic Ladder? Race and Gender Stratification in a World of Whiteness (with Kyle Moore, Ismael Cid Martinez, Jean Shin, Roberta Spalter-Roth, Jason Smith, Amber Kalb). Review of Black Political Economy, September 2018. (Download Here) (Media: Social Research Matters)

Abstract: Under-represented (URM) minority faculty can expand the range of perspectives taught to students, but only if they are hired, granted tenure, and promoted. Their career paths can be constrained due to a stratification process that appears to legitimate a non-Hispanic white male set of rules and practices, including value-neutrality and objectivity. This article measures specific aspects of human and social capital and their relationship to academic stratification in two social science disciplines, economics and sociology. Here, we measure stratification by the distribution of academic rank, and examine differences based on discipline, institution type, race/ethnicity, and gender in terms of academic career success. Our data are unique because they are gathered from multiple secondary sources. A major contribution of this paper is to measure social capital as a “two worlds” phenomenon, taken from W.E.B. Du Bois. Not surprisingly, we find that “publish or perish” still rules. Conversely, URM-oriented social capital, which can provide a safe space and opportunities to collaborate on scholarly work, is not significant. But, it may be related to feelings of satisfaction and inclusion. The only exceptions are URM-oriented sections in sociology. The article concludes with a series of policy recommendations to support URM faculty members in their careers.

Working Papers

How Extended Family Health Issues Influence Household Portfolio Allocations (with Vicki Bogan). (Download Here)

Abstract: Growing research links household financial decisions to physical and mental health status within the nuclear family. We hypothesize that mental health issues (psychological distress) outside of the nuclear family unit are a unique contributor to household portfolio allocation decisions. We use panel data and find that having at least one sibling with psychological distress decreases the probability of risky asset ownership (stocks, mutual funds), decreases risky assets as a share of financial assets, and decreases total amount of risky asset holding. These results have important policy-related implications for understanding the connection between health, portfolio allocation, and wealth building.

Measuring the Racial Wealth Gap (with Fenaba Addo, Darrick Hamilton) 

Abstract: Studies indicate that while wealth inequality is large and growing, racial wealth inequality is even larger and persistent. And yet, the scope of the discussion on racial wealth inequality is hindered, in part, due to data limitations and measurement issues. In this study we have two specific aims. First, we examine different analytic approaches to measuring the black/white wealth gap. Our analyses allow us to distinguish between estimation techniques that account for non-normal distributions, skewness, and a high concentration of negative and zero values such as quantile regression, inverse hyperbolic sine and logarithmic transformations, in addition to OLS models. We pay particular attention to how differences in wealth data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and Survey of Income and Program Participation contribute to variations in the measurement of wealth inequality. Based on the outcomes from our first aim, our second aim addresses the best approach for modeling racial wealth inequality in the U.S. This section draws from a theoretical lens that emphasizes historical and policy mechanisms that have not only promoted group-based wealth accumulation for some but also, wealth loss and theft for others. We conclude with a discussion on assessing bias in methods and recommendations for best practices when analyzing wealth and measuring wealth differentials in a racialized context.