Policy, Place, and Economic Inequality

Isabella and fellow student working




Assistant Professor of Sociology

Project Summary

The goal of my project was to assess how the socio-economic statuses of women and minorities are different across the United States. The project aimed to find how state-level policies shape these inequalities across place and time. I began my research project by gaining an understanding of the socio-economic disparities across the United States. This topic was already of great personal interest to me, so I felt like I had a good base to work from. However, Dr. Baker presented new angles to look familiar information. My research partner Jazmyne and I first looked at various social media and news platforms to assess current public sentiments on gender economic inequality. We found that in recent years most of these platforms discussed mainly the wage gap. Although this is a prominent issue, I felt that there was a lack of comprehensive information about greater gender economic inequality. In the following weeks, Jazmyne and I searched through major sociology journals and literature reviews to form an understanding of popularized topics in the field. We each took on a time span, from 1999 to 2009, and from 2010 to 2018. This helped us see shifting interests and find areas that lacked extensive research. We went on to use the General Social Survey to assess public sentiments regarding socio-economic inequalities. Next, we used the Correlates of State Policy Codebook to log when states implemented various landmark policies regarding gender and racial inequality.

I learned a great deal about the massive inequality in the United States across place and time. The South has a disproportionate concentration of poverty and inequality. By looking at state-policy, I discovered clear connections between the adoption speed and policy liberalism of different states and the status of their inequality. Through this project, I gathered a large tool-set of research skills. I have learned how to use public opinion databases, search academic journals for specific information, use news and social media as research tools, and understand policy codebooks. Using these tools, I was able to look at similar themes of socio-economic inequalities through many different lenses. This created a deep understanding of these inequalities, as well as new ways to go about my future research endeavors.