Category: Articles

Recent articles published by faculty, students, and alumni.

Liza G. Steele – Wealth and preferences for redistribution: The effects of financial assets and home equity in 31 countries

Liza G. Steele (faculty) published an article titled “Wealth and preferences for redistribution: The effects of financial assets and home equity in 31 countries” in International Journal of Comparative Sociology (online first)

How does wealth affect preferences for redistribution? In general, social scientists have largely neglected to study the social effects of wealth. This neglect was partially due to a dearth of data on household wealth and social outcomes, and also to greater scholarly interest in how wealth has been accumulated rather than the social effects of wealth. While we would expect household wealth to be an important component of attitudes toward inequality and social welfare policies, research in this area is scarce. In this study, the relationship between wealth and preferences for redistribution is examined in cross-national global and comparative perspective using data on 31 countries from the 2009 wave of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), the first wave of that study to include measures of wealth. The findings presented compare the effects of two types of wealth—financial assets and home equity—and demonstrate that there are differences in effects by asset type and by redistributive policy in question. Financial wealth is more closely associated with attitudes about income equality, while home equity is more closely associated with attitudes about unemployment benefits. Moreover, while the upper categories of financial wealth have the largest negative effects on support for income equality, it is the middle categories of home equity that are most strongly associated with opposition to unemployment benefits. Effects also differ by country, but not in patterns that theories of comparative welfare states nor political economy would adequately explain.

Marcela F. González – High skilled immigrants’ pathways from risky to secure legality in the United States

Marcela F. González (Alum) published an article titled “High skilled immigrants’ pathways from risky to secure legality in the United States,” in Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43:15, 2807-2825.

Based on 30 semi-structured interviews, I analyse the stories high-skilled immigrants told about their legal trajectories since their arrival in the United States. I explain immigrants’ two pathways from temporary or risky legality to permanent or secure legality: the Uninterrupted Pathway to Legalization and the Contingent Pathway to Legalization. Specifically, I explain how navigating a temporary, or risky, legality before acquiring permanent residency privatizes risk by forcing immigrants in the second pathway to shape their legal trajectory for themselves. Given that high-skilled immigrants spend many years under temporary legal statuses, in a context of legal uncertainty and an indeterminate timeframe for achieving permanent residency, high-skilled immigrants embrace an involuntary agency. Privatization of risk refers to the shift in the cost burden of the legal path towards permanent residency. The burden has shifted from institutions – the employer and the government – to high-skilled immigrants themselves.

Dirk Witteveen – Encouraged or Discouraged? The Effect of Adverse Macroeconomic Conditions on School Leaving and Reentry

Dirk Witteveen (alum) published an article in Sociology of Education (September 24, 2020) 

Encouraged or Discouraged? The Effect of Adverse Macroeconomic Conditions on School Leaving and Reentry” 


Existing research generally confirms a countercyclical education enrollment, whereby youths seek shelter in the educational system to avoid hardships in the labor market: the “discouraged worker” thesis. Alternatively, the “encouraged worker” thesis predicts that economic downturns steer individuals away from education because of higher opportunity costs. This study provides a formal test of these opposing theories using data from the United States compared with similar sources from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden. I investigate whether macroeconomic stimuli—including recessions and youth unemployment fluctuations—matter for enrollment decisions. Analyses rely on 10 years of detailed individual-level panel data, consisting of birth cohorts across several decades. Across data sources, results show enrollment persistence in secondary education is stronger in response to economic downturns. These patterns differ sharply for tertiary-enrolled students and those who recently left higher education. Surprisingly, U.S. youths display an increased hazard of school leaving and a decreased hazard of educational reenrollment in response to adverse conditions. In contrast, European youths tend to make enrollment decisions supportive of discouraged-worker mechanisms or insensitivity to adverse conditions. The U.S.-specific encouraged-worker mechanism might be explained by the relative importance of market forces in one’s early career and the high costs of university attendance, which induces risk aversion with regard to educational investment. The discussion addresses the consequences for educational inequality.