RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Sociology, Demography, Public Policy
Area(s) of Expertise:
Contextual Effects on Well-Being, Urban Policy, Neighborhoods & Housing, Poverty and Inequality, Family Instability & Complexity
Dr. Laura Tach is a sociologist who studies urban poverty and family life. Her mixed-methods research examines how neighborhoods and families reproduce inequality and how public policy affects these processes. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University. Prior to joining the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, Laura was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.
Current Research Activities:
Laura's current research examines how social policies affect urban poverty and family life. Her first area of research studies how neighborhood inequality has changed as a result of housing policies designed to deconcentrate poverty. With funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she has conducted mixed-method studies of the dynamics of mixed-income neighborhoods in the United States. Papers emerging from this work investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of neighborhood economic diversity, the social dynamics among residents when housing policies deconcentrate poverty, and the consequences of poverty deconcentration for neighborhood health environments and resident health behaviors.
Laura’s second area of research examines family structure and economic coping strategies among the urban poor. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, she has examined how family instability and complexity influence the well-being of unmarried parents, the dynamics of paternal involvement following nonmarital births, and how family instability affects household income volatility. She is also involved in a collaborative study funded by the Ford Foundation that examines the public and private strategies low-income families use to make ends meet in the post-welfare reform era, with a focus on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).