Articles and Working Papers

My articles and working papers explore the determinants and consequences of public policy choices in the United States, focusing on advocacy and influence in the policymaking process, the predictors of state policy choices, social welfare politics and policies, and the wellbeing of low-income families.

Interest Group Influence 

Much of my research focuses on interest group influence in policymaking. My paper “Power through Partnerships” (under review) theorizes that interest groups gain influence by collaborating with diverse partners and utilizes formal theoretic modeling to identify the conditions under which diverse coalitions will gain policy influence. A second paper, entitled “Lobbying Together in the Social Policy Domain” (under review), challenges the conventional wisdom that advocates for the poor lack the ability to influence policy choices in Congress and demonstrates that advocates for the poor can mitigate their own resource limitations by collaborating with partners with diverse political resources. A third paper, currently in preparation and tentatively titled “Interest Group Coalitions and Political Influence in Washington” uses publicly-available data on interest group lobbying and policy outcomes across a random sample of issues in Washington to test the hypothesis that coalitions of diverse interest groups are more likely than homogeneous coalitions or individual groups to achieve their policy goals.

State & Local Politics and Policy

A second area of research focuses on the predictors of state policy choices, particularly in the social policy domain. My paper “Advocacy for the Poor” (American Politics Research) uses an original dataset of states’ advocacy communities, political and economic characteristics, and policy choices following welfare reform to demonstrate that the strength of a state’s advocacy community is significantly associated with its welfare policy choices. A second paper, entitled “Did the Civil Rights Movement Have a Direct Impact on Public Policy” (available on request) and co-authored with Anthony Chen, examines the relationship between civil rights advocacy and the adoption of state fair housing legislation in the early 1960s.

Social Welfare Politics and Policy

A third area of research focuses on social welfare policy and the well-being of low-income families. My paper “Exploring Residential Mobility among Low-Income Families” (Social Service Review, 2013) examines the individual-level predictors of positive and negative moves among low-income families and my co-authored article “Housing Instability among Current and Former Welfare Recipients” (American Journal of Public Health, 2007) examines how health and employment problems relate to evictions and homelessness among poor mothers. A project currently in preparation and tentatively titled “Residential Mobility and Civic and Political Engagement in Low-Income Communities” examines the relationship between residential mobility and civic engagement among low-income families using survey data from a longitudinal study of low-income families in 10 urban communities across the United States.

In addition, a series of policy reports explore the substantive areas of welfare and homelessness. The first set of policy reports analyzes the various hardships and barriers to employment that low-income mothers encounter as they transition from welfare into work, including a report on child care as a barrier to employment (available here); a report on substance abuse among low-income mothers (available here); and a report on housing mobility and child outcomes (available here). The second set of policy reports focus on homelessness in Washtenaw County, Michigan. The first (available here) analyzes data from the County’s Point-In-Time Count of Homeless Persons and the second (available here) reviews research on effective housing and services strategies for the chronically homeless, homeless families, and survivors of domestic violence.