In the U.S., access to health insurance and pathway to citizenship depend heavily on employment, family ties, and socioeconomic resources. Family ties and employment also determine which immigrants get priority in becoming naturalized citizens, and steep application fees pose barriers for many poorer immigrants. My work bridges a research gap to show how health and immigration policies exacerbate inequities between social groups whose memberships are often outside individual control: genders, races/ethnicities, and family structures.
Family and kin often fill the gaps in formal insurance by lending money, providing childcare, and sharing housing. The kin-based safety net stretches across households, and the density of its members provides its strength. The presence and health of close family ties are particularly consequential to whether a person can avoid acute hardship such as homelessness. Yet, describing how multigenerational family networks differ between groups and how they change over time is tricky. My work develops methodologies to study kin ties that span across households using large-scale national data.
A legacy of racism, codified in law, practiced by institutions, and seeped into interpersonal interactions, has built cities and towns where minoritized people disproportionately live in under-resourced and polluted areas. Hurricane Katrina’s devastating aftermath motivated disaster researchers to identify socially vulnerable neighborhoods using standardized tools, and the growing frequency of wildfires is expanding what we know about how poor air quality affects health. This line of work combines the three strands by examining how they collide in patterns that compound disadvantages and assessing their cumulative impact on health.