Health Externalities and Social Status: Household Latrines in Rural India

"Urban family ties and household latrines in rural India: A cross-sectional analysis of national data." PLOS ONE. 2020.

Abstract. Access to toilets and latrines represents both a development indicator and a significant factor in child mortality and physical development. The lack of latrines in rural India therefore constitutes a major global health challenge. Given the urban-rural gap in latrine ownership across India, I investigated how family ties to major cities, which extend beyond the local community affected by neighbors’ defecation practices, shaped latrine ownership in rural India. Using the national household survey, I analyzed the geographies of family ties, types of exchange and rural latrine ownership. Receiving family visits from major cities increased the likelihood of having a latrine, and the relationship between family visitors from major cities and rural latrine ownership was stronger for wealthier households. Material support from family also increased the likelihood of latrine ownership suggesting that family members not living in major cities may still contribute necessary resources. The importance of personalized connections beyond the village, particularly to major cities, suggests that linking geographically disparate sanitation interventions may produce synergies.

Economic Sociology & Local Contexts

“Spatial Mismatch and Youth Unemployment: Public Transportation as a Labor Market Institution.” Co-first author with Christof Brandtner and Cristobal Young in Socio-Economic Review. 2017

Abstract. Spatial mismatch between homes and jobs within a city can create unemployment despite the presence of unfilled jobs. This is especially problematic among young people who have limited transportation options and high rates of joblessness. Car ownership is a possible solution to spatial mismatch, but private vehicles are expensive and involve negative externalities. Public transportation provides an alternative infrastructure that reduces structural unemployment by matching supply and demand. Using longitudinal models of public transportation in the 95 largest US cities between 2000 and 2010, we test whether better public transit services reduce youth unemployment. Public transportation systems can serve as a labor market institution, but there are two worlds of public transportation in American cities. Improvements in public transit are mostly beneficial in cities that are already less dependent on private automobiles. Path dependence in transportation design means that some cities see little benefits to incremental investments in public transit.

“Family Investments in Education during Economic Uncertainty: Evidence from the Great Recession.” First author with Sabino Kornrich in Sociological Perspectives. 2017.

Abstract. At the beginning of the Great Recession, household spending on education across the income distribution was highly unequal. We examined how different income groups altered their spending on education for children under 18 during this economic crisis. As national and local economic conditions deteriorated during the recession, the difference in odds that a high-income household spent on education relative to a low-income family increased by 20 percent, and the difference in the amounts that high-income families spent on education relative to low-income families also increased by 20 percent. As state unemployment rates climbed and consumer confidence fell, high-income families’ educational spending increased relative to low-income families’ spending. Decreases in local housing prices were also associated with lower spending for low-income families. Given the importance of educational enrichment for children’s learning outcomes, increasing inequality in families’ educational investments during the Great Recession may contribute to future educational and social inequality.