Selected Publications and Data

Income Inequality and Population Health: A Global Gradient?

Forthcoming in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Curran, Michaela and Matthew C. Mahutga)

Cross-national empirical research about the link between income inequality and population health produces conflicting conclusions. We address these mixed findings by examining the degree to which the income inequality and health relationship varies with economic development. We estimate fixed effects models with different measures of income inequality and population health. Results suggest that development moderates the association between inequality and two measures of population health. Our findings produce two generalizations. First, we observe a global gradient in the relationship between income inequality and population health. Second, our results are consistent with income inequality as a proximate or conditional cause of lower population health. Income inequality has a 139.7% to 374.3% more harmful effect on health in poorer than richer countries and a significantly harmful effect in 2.1% to 53.3% of countries in our sample and 6.6% to 67.6% of the world’s population, but no significantly harmful effect in richer countries.

Working Paper – Coming soon!

Job Tasks and the Comparative Structure of Income and Employment: Routine Task Intensity and Offshorability for the LIS

International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 59(2): 81-109. (Mahutga, Matthew C., Michaela Curran, and Anthony Roberts)

Comparative sociologists have long considered occupations to be a key source of inequality. However, data constraints make comparative research on two of the more important contemporary drivers of occupational stratification – globalization and technological change – relatively scarce. This article introduces a new dataset on occupational ‘routine task intensity’ (RTI) and ‘offshorability’ (OFFS) for use with the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS). To produce these data, we recoded 23 country-specific occupational schemes (74 LIS country-years) to the two-digit ISCO-88 scheme. When combined with the handful of LIS countries already reporting their occupations in ISCO-88, we produce individual level RTI and OFFS scores for 38 LIS countries and 160 LIS country-years. To assess the validity of these recodes, we compare average labor-income ratios predicted by recoded ISCO-88 occupational categories to those predicted by reported ISCO-88 occupational categories within countries that transitioned from country-specific to ISCO-88 codes over time. To assess the utility of these RTI and OFFS scores and advance the literature on income polarization, we analyze their association with work hours and labor incomes in the global North and South. Both covariates correlate with work hours in ways that are consistent with previous research and additional theoretical considerations. Moreover, we show that both RTI and OFFS contribute to income polarization directly in the North, but not in the South. This article generates a public good data infrastructure that will be of use to a wide variety of social scientists, and brings new evidence to bear on the question of income polarization in rich democracies.

LIS Working Paper




Detailed Occupational Scheme

Immigration and support for redistributive social policy: Does multiculturalism matter?

International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 57(6): 375-400. (Kwon, Ronald and Michaela Curran)

In this article, we examine the impact of multicultural immigration policy on the degree to which immigration reduces support for redistributive social policy among natives. Arguments linking immigration to support for redistributive social policy are hotly contested. Some suggest that immigration reduces support for social policy, while others suggest that it increases such support. To make matters worse, the empirical evidence is equally mixed. We take this confluence as a puzzle in need of explanation. Our point of departure is to introduce institutional context and multicultural immigration policy, in particular, as a key intervening factor. From the growing literature on multiculturalism, we derive three unique hypotheses by which immigration has different effects on native support for redistributive social policy across multicultural contexts. To subject these to empirical scrutiny, we examine the degree to which the effect of immigration on native support for redistributive social policy (regarding jobs, unemployment, income, retirement, housing, and healthcare) varies across multicultural context. Our findings suggest that immigration flows appear to positively affect support for social policy in countries with a high degree of multiculturalism. For some types of social policy, immigration flows actually increase support for social policy in highly multicultural countries but reduces such support in assimilationist countries. However, cross-national variation in immigrant stocks is uncorrelated with support for social policy regardless of the level of multiculturalism. We conclude by highlighting how our findings point to the need for more research on how multiculturalism impacts native perceptions of immigrants.

Characterizing Social Networks and Communication Channels in a Web-Based Peer Support Intervention

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, Jun 19(6): 388-96. (Owen, Jason E., Michaela Curran, Erin O’Carroll Bantum, and Robert Hanneman)

Web and mobile (mHealth) interventions have promise for improving health outcomes, but engagement and attrition may be reducing effect sizes. Because social networks can improve engagement, which is a key mechanism of action, understanding the structure and potential impact of social networks could be key to improving mHealth effects. This study (a) evaluates social network characteristics of four distinct communication channels (discussion board, chat, e-mail, and blog) in a large social networking intervention, (b) predicts membership in online communities, and (c) evaluates whether community membership impacts engagement. Participants were 299 cancer survivors with significant distress using the 12-week intervention. Social networking attributes (e.g., density and clustering) were identified separately for each type of network communication (i.e., discussion board, blog, web mail, and chat). Each channel demonstrated high levels of clustering, and being a community member in one communication channel was associated with being in the same community in each of the other channels (φ = 0.56-0.89, ps < 0.05). Predictors of community membership differed across communication channels, suggesting that each channel reached distinct types of users. Finally, membership in a discussion board, chat, or blog community was strongly associated with time spent engaging with coping skills exercises (Ds = 1.08-1.84, ps < 0.001) and total time of intervention (Ds = 1.13-1.80, ps < 0.001). mHealth interventions that offer multiple channels for communication allow participants to expand the number of individuals with whom they are communicating, create opportunities for communicating with different individuals in distinct channels, and likely enhance overall engagement.