Visiting Scholars, 2015–2016

IRP-Supported Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholars Profiles from Underrepresented Groups

Mallika Thomas

Mallika Thomas

Mallika Thomas is an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University. She will be in residence at IRP for the week of December 7, 2015. Christopher Taber will serve as her host and mentor during her stay.

Thomas received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 2015, with a specialization in labor economics, economics of the family, information economics, and dynamic contracts. Her dissertation examines the impact of mandated maternity leave benefits on the gender gap in promotions. She shows that the gender gap in promotions may be exacerbated by maternity leave policies, while at the same time, increasing female labor force participation.

She received a number of fellowships and awards during her undergraduate and graduate careers, including a four-year Yale University Merit Scholarship, a five-year University of Chicago Presidential Fellowship, and an American Economic Association Dissertation Fellowship.

Thomas's research focuses fundamentally on addressing the causes of persistent inequality and the consequences of policy responses. Her work in progress focuses on peer effects in education among female MBA students and causes of the gender-wage gap upon graduation, the impact of group-specific employer-provided mandates on the wages and employment of identifiable groups, and the consequences of rising wage inequality on the educational investments of men and women.

Her job market paper examines how mandated maternity leave policies affect the gender gap in promotions. It presents a model explaining the gender gap in promotions where firms must choose whether to invest in the training of their employees, but they are uncertain about their employees' future choice of hours of work. She finds that women hired after the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are 5 percent more likely to remain employed but 8 percent less likely to be promoted than those who were hired before the FMLA. She also finds evidence suggesting that information asymmetry, in addition to selection, is driving the increase in the gender gap in promotions.

Deadric Williams

Deadric Williams

Deadric Williams is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He will be in residence at IRP during the week of February 15, 2016, and will present an IRP seminar on February 18. Lawrence Berger will serve as his host and mentor during his stay.

Williams earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2014. His dissertation, "Contextualizing Couples: Three Essays on Inequality, Stress, and Dyadic Functioning as a Longitudinal and Reciprocal Process," uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study. The findings show that stressors (e.g., economic hardship, parenting stress, etc.), parental mental health (e.g., depression), and relationship outcomes are associated in dynamic and reciprocal ways for couple dyads.

He has received fellowships and awards during his graduate career, including the American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship, a departmental dissertation fellowship, and the College of Arts and Sciences "Academic Star" award. His areas of specialization are family, stress and couple relationships, inequality, and quantitative methods.

Williams has been involved in a number of collaborative projects, including the use of the Add Health friendship network data to understand the longitudinal effects of friendship ties and alcohol use among adolescents. The findings from these studies have been published in Social Science Research and Health. Another collaborative project includes the use of pilot data to examine the effects of perceived discrimination on markers of cardiovascular risk among low-income African American youth, which has been published in the American Journal of Human Biology.

As a Postdoctoral Research Associate, Williams is working on the Minority Health Disparities Initiative at the University of Nebraska, which is affiliated with the Research, Evaluation, and Analysis for Community Health Unit. In this position, Williams is polishing his dissertation chapters for publication, expanding his knowledge of theories and methods for the analysis of relational data (e.g., social networks), and is developing protocols for measuring discrimination and stress using smartphone apps and wearable devices as part of the LifeHD Research Lab team.

Visiting Food Assistance Scholars Profiles

Lorenzo Almada

Lorenzo AlmadaLorenzo Almada is a postdoctoral research scientist at the Columbia Population Research Center. He will be in residence at IRP from May 2 through 6, 2016. Judith Bartfeld will serve as his host and mentor during his stay.

Lorenzo Almada earned his Ph.D. from Georgia State University in 2014. His dissertation examines the effects of SNAP on adult obesity. He finds that additional SNAP benefits may be beneficial in reducing obesity among adult participants with children. In his postdoctoral position, he works with Professor Garfinkel to apply methods developed in his dissertation to the Fragile Families Child and Well-Being Study and other large national surveys.

Almada's research interests are to investigate SNAP's effects on various health outcomes (e.g. obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and general health status) and measures of well-being (e.g. food insecurity and material hardships) and to understand the relationship between the two. He hopes to uncover some of the mechanisms behind the health and well-being effects of SNAP by examining diet quality and both food and non-food consumption using variation in state-level SNAP policies and administration. He is also currently working on a study that examines the effects of multiple public transfers on material hardships and health among fragile families.

Almada is the Principal Investigator on a recently awarded grant to study the effects of SNAP participation on household non-food related expenditures using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. The findings from the study will help inform policymakers on how SNAP participation affects household expenditures on specific non-food goods and services that have the potential to improve family well-being and alleviate non-food related hardships. He is also co-investigator on a grant to study food insecurity intensity in New York City. The aims of the study are to use both state-level aggregate data as well as local data collection efforts to estimate rates and intensity levels of food hardship to further understand how food assistance programs and outreach impact food access in more localized settings.

Timothy Beatty

Timothy BeattyTimothy Beatty is an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis. He will be in residence at IRP from April 11 through 15, 2016. Judith Bartfeld will serve as his host and mentor during his stay.

Beatty earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001. His earlier work examines whether low-income households pay more for the foods they purchase. He found that poor households actually use retailer quantity-discounting to concentrate their purchases on fewer purchase occasions, which reduced the diet quality of the foods poor households purchase.

Another study looked at whether low-income households in the United Kingdom were able to smooth unanticipated income shocks, in the form of unusually cold weather that increased heating costs. He and his coinvestigators found evidence that for the poorest households during the coldest winters, there is some evidence of households cutting back on food spending in order to pay higher heat bills.

Current work includes an investigation of reciprocal giving in SNAP households. SNAP participation is associated with high levels of food spending near the date of benefit receipt and diminishing food spending over the remainder of the month. Reciprocal gifting, especially food gifts, is one coping mechanism that can mitigate the consequences of the lumpy benefit cycle. This kind of sharing has been studied in developing countries but is understudied in a developed country context. We are looking at this issue in the context of SNAP asking whether those who have recently received benefits may provide meals to those who are further removed from the date of benefit receipt.