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Inequality in Welfare Provision and Taxation between U.S. States


Description of Research Project:

The American federal government has done little to combat rising inequality over the past several decades. State governments, meanwhile, have taken a more active and important role in redistribution. State governments control a wide range of policies that can affect economic inequalities both at the bottom and toward the top of the income distribution. Their influence has risen since the 1990s and has major consequences both for inequality within their borders and nationwide.

I am working on several projects on redistributive politics in U.S. states. I focus on the programs of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid as well as tax policy. Policy in each of these areas has important implications for economic inequalities both through how much states spend on (or raise from) them as well as who benefits from (or pays for) them. In other words, both their size and shape have important consequences for inequality.  We will track how these policies differ between states and how they have changed over time. This will allow us to examine what their effect is on class and race-based inequalities are as well as what factors influence states to choose a strategy for redistribution. Finally, we will look at political responses to inequality to examine the role of inequality itself in the policymaking process.

Description of Work that will be Assigned:

There is a variety of types of work available based on applicants’ interest and skills. The three main tasks available are 1) accessing data available from various sources online and performing data management and exploration tasks, 2) performing archival research using online news article databases to examine specific cases of policy change, and 3) searching for and reviewing academic literature and policy reports on welfare policy and taxation in U.S. states. I will work with research assistants to develop data management and analysis skills using R to the extent they would prefer to be most engaged in working with quantitative data. Assistants will spend a small amount of time reading academic literature on the topic at the beginning of the semester, and I will make more time available for them to do so later on if they would like.

Supervising Faculty Member: Greta Krippner

Graduate Student: Chalem Bolton

Contact Information:

Average Hours Per Week: 3 weekly per credit; flexible when students have more coursework

Range of Credits Students can Earn: 1-3

Number of Positions Available: 3