Poverty, low educational attainment, and other social and economic factors are recognized as key risks for poor health across the lifespan and are often manifestations of historical and current structural racism. These "upstream" conditions are often more powerful determinants of health and disparities than biological risk factors. Consequently, our research focuses on policies and other community-level interventions that target these upstream social risk factors to attain health equity at a population level. As a program within the Department of Family & Community Medicine, we take a life course approach, examining health outcomes during the perinatal period as well as chronic disease and aging.

To conduct this research, our team specializes in the use of big data and interdisciplinary quasi-experimental methods. We link together large national surveys, administrative data like birth certificates, and policy data sets. Our projects use the latest in epidemiologic and econometric analytic techniques to provide the strongest evidence about which policies work, for whom they work best, and why. Examples of topics that we study include:

COVID-19 Pandemic Policies and Health




Education Policies and Health




Poverty Alleviation and Health




Safety Net Policies and Health




Neighborhood Disadvantage and Health