Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program Participants

Fall 2018 Participants
The following projects are open for undergraduate students to apply until 8/27/18.

The Gendered Effects of Unemployment Insurance Modernization Provisions

The project aims to examine the effects of the Unemployment Insurance Modernization provisions on UI receipt and the effects of UI receipt on subsequent employment patterns among unemployed workers leaving their jobs for family caregiving reasons.

Many American workers face challenges in balancing their work and family. While some workers can adapt their work schedules or take paid leaves to take care of sick family members, young children, or aging parents, some have to quit their jobs or are laid off for reasons related to family caregiving. Female workers, compared to their male counterparts, are more likely to leave their jobs for compelling family reasons and experience economic insecurity due to employment interruptions. Unemployment Insurance (UI) has played a critical role in providing income and work support for unemployed workers since its establishment in 1935. However, its outdated eligibility rules and wide variations in provisions across states have disqualified many unemployed women and family caregivers unequally across states. The federal Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act (UIMA) of 2009 financially incentivized states to reform their UI provisions, including three family caregiver-friendly eligibility expansions. By using the Census Survey of Income Program Participation and a quasi-experimental design to examine the policy effect of UIMA, this research will inform future UI reform to improve the economic security and gender equity.

This opportunity is ideal for students interested in labor, employment, social welfare policy, and gender equity.

1. Collect state-by-state unemployment insurance policy information and update the UI policy dataset
2. Search and summarize the literature
3. Conduct descriptive analysis

1. Familiarity with labor or employment issues 2. Strong analytical and writing skills 3. Previous experience conducting descriptive analysis

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Mentor: Yu-Ling Chang, Professor Social Welfare
Students: TBA

Probing the limits of criminal record stigma: audit studies of the job market for college graduates

The poor labor market outcomes of former prisoners and others with criminal records are well documented, including high rates of unemployment, low wages, and poor working conditions. Although the sources of these difficulties are many – including low levels of education, high rates of substance abuse, and limited work experience, prior research compellingly shows that the stigma of a criminal record reduces the chances of being hired and often relegates those with a criminal record to the secondary labor market. Experimental audit studies show that a criminal record dramatically reduces the chances of a callback. Qualitative evidence on the job search strategies of those with a criminal record shows that they respond by turning to temporary positions and certain “felon friendly” industries at the bottom of the labor market.

However, the scope conditions of the criminal record stigma are not well understood. Prior research focuses on the low-skill labor market, so we know little about which “positive credentials” might counteract stigma. This is particularly important because one of the primary policy proposals for improving the labor market outcomes of those with criminal records is greater access to postsecondary education. Can a college degree overcome the stigma of a criminal record? For whom and for which types of jobs does it do so? This project will conduct a series of audit studies in the labor market for college graduates to examine the scope and limits of the criminal record stigma.

Constructing resumes and cover letters
Collecting and analyzing data
Literature review

Qualifications: MS Office, Google Drive, Google Sheets and Forms Attention to detail Prefer to work with students from Underground Scholars

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Mentor: David Harding, Professor Sociology
Students: TBA

Understanding “Us vs Them” Attitudes, Police Officer Wellness, and Public Safety

Existing research shows that perceived stress is associated with performance impairment and can have negative consequences for decision-making. This project aims to provide evidence of “Us vs Them” attitudes as occupational stressors in policing and examine the consequences of this stressor for public safety outcomes. We will conduct in-depth interviews with patrol officers to ask: How do officers understand “Us vs Them” dynamics? How do these understandings shape their interactions with the public? What is the relationship between “Us vs Them” attitudes and officers’ sense of safety? How do trainings intended to promote bias-free policing inform officers’ perceptions of their interactions with community members?

This project will provide students with the opportunity to engage in multiple elements of qualitative research. They will gain instruction and experience conducting literature reviews, interview transcription, qualitative data coding, ethical human subjects research design, and research participant recruitment.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Kimberly Burke, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Students must have a demonstrated interested in learning about the criminal justice system and evidence-based social justice work.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Mentor: Erin Kerrison, Professor Sociology
Students: TBA

The Promise and Practice of Prison Education

It has been well-documented that incarceration can produce a wide range of collateral consequences for individuals and their families. For instance, spending time in prison has a significant negative effect on later job security, even after controlling for alcohol use, criminal activity, and prior criminal history, and some studies suggest that a period of incarceration reduces annual earnings by as much as 30 to 40 percent. The families of incarcerated individuals also experience collateral costs, in the form of restricted rights, diminished resources, and social marginalization. These broader harms are made more acute by the hyper-concentration of imprisonment in poor, predominantly minority neighborhoods. In these communities, mass incarceration has a destabilizing effect, fostering distrust of political institutions and reducing civic participation.

In contrast to the damage done by imprisonment, higher education provides a path to generational advancement. According to a recent estimate, the economic returns to a college degree exceed 15 percent and, over a lifetime, average earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree are roughly $570,000 higher than for those with only a high school education. We hypothesize that participation in prison-based higher education can significantly alter a broad set of outcomes related to economic mobility, civic engagement, educational attainment, criminal justice involvement, and family stability. Yet, despite the emerging consensus that higher education advances economic mobility among marginalized populations, the availability of college programs within American prisons has decreased dramatically in recent decades, even as incarceration rates reached historically unprecedented levels.

In this study, we aim to document the effects of incarcerated students’ participation in a degree-granting, on-site college program at San Quentin State Prison. Using both original, longitudinal surveys and administrative data, the project will allow us to assess whether higher education has the potential to alter not only the experiences these individuals have while incarcerated, but also their life trajectories following release. To do this, we match over-time student surveys with criminological data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and with student records. As a point of comparison, we also gather administrative data on three distinct control groups – those at San Quentin who are on the waitlist for enrollment in college, but have not yet matriculated; those incarcerated at other prisons who have requested transfer to enroll in higher education; and a statistically matched sample of individuals at San Quentin who are eligible to enroll in educational programs but have not done so.

Our goal is to increase current understanding of how higher education might intervene in the cycle of social and economic marginality in its most extreme form. This is of both theoretical and policy importance; by rigorously documenting the effects of prison higher education, we hope that this study will help policymakers take a data-driven approach to policy reform. In addition, our results can serve as a baseline for conducting localized cost-benefit analyses to assess the expected returns on investment from prison higher education, and to determine how prison higher education programs might be employed in other institutions, states, or localities.

– Literature reviews on higher education and the effects of incarceration for scholarly papers
– Drafting and contributing to white papers and policy reports on the effects of higher education programs in prison
– Planning the next wave of surveys to be fielded in San Quentin next fall

Learning Outcomes:
– Master critique and comprehension of currently scholarly literature
– Improve research writing skills
– Gain a deeper understanding of the quantitative and qualitative research process
– Learn the basics of survey methodology with hard-to-reach populations

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Meredith Sadin, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: This project is open to any undergraduate students with preference given to those with familiarity with issues of policing and incarceration.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Mentor: Amy Lerman, Professor GSPP
Students: TBA

How do other countries prepare, support, and compensate the early childhood education workforce?

A qualified, well-supported workforce is crucial to ensuring high-quality early childhood education services for children age birth to five. With the publication of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment’s biennial Early Childhood Workforce Index, we have a sense of whether and to what extent U.S. states are ensuring that the ECE workforce is appropriately prepared, supported, and compensated, but we know little about how the U.S. compares internationally on these issues. What types of policies and systems are in place to ensure a qualified, supported ECE workforce in other countries? Can other countries serve as a model for reform efforts in the U.S.?

Locate, organize, and summarize relevant articles, reports, and other resources;
Draft a blog post summarizing key themes/findings.

Learning outcomes
Understand core issues in early childhood education policy in the U.S. and internationally, particularly as it relates to those providing the service;
Build capability in finding and critically analyzing various types of research literature;
Gain experience writing for a public audience.

Good time management skills and attention to detail (Required) Previous experience writing annotated bibliographies and literature reviews (Desired) Previous research and/or writing experience (Desired) Interest in early childhood and/or education or labor policy (Desired)

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Mentor: Caitlin McLean, Research Specialist, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
Students: TBA

Formerly Incarcerated Individuals’ Perceptions of and Experiences with Fair Chance Employment Initiatives

In response to the substantial employment barriers that the justice-involved face, which has resulted in very poor employment outcomes for this group, various levels of government have implemented fair chance employment initiatives to improve access to job opportunities for those with criminal records. “Ban-the-Box” is one example. While a limited number of studies have gauged the effect of such policies on employers’ hiring patterns, to date no studies have explored their impacts on the perceptions and labor market experiences of the justice-involved. To fill this gap in the literature, we ask the following set of questions: To what extent do the justice-involved know that such policies exist, and what do they know about them? How effective do they believe such policies to be for increasing access to jobs? To what extent do these policies affect justice-involved individuals’ own patterns of job search? Finally, to what extent and how does race, class, and gender inform justice-involved’s perceptions and experiences?

Interns will primarily be responsible for conducting in-depth interviews with justice-involved individuals.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Christopher Herring, Graduate Student

Excellent writing skills; people skills: high emotional IQ, with an ability to connect with others from diverse backgrounds, to listen well and deeply, and to interact with others respectfully; organized, with excellent time management skills; team player; self-motivated and takes initiative. Ease at learning various data collection and data analysis software packages would also be helpful but is not required.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: Most interviews will be conducted by phone, and so the student will have flexibility in where they conduct these.

Mentor: Sandra Smith, Professor Sociology
Students: TBA

Immigration Policy, Immigrant Community and Civil Society in Japan and Korea

Japan and South Korea (Korea hereafter) present a prototype of the restrictive immigration policy aimed at preventing settlement of immigrant workers. Yet over the past 30 years, the two countries have been home to growing and diverse immigrant populations, mostly from other Asian countries, that engage in the jobs and industries shunned by citizen workers. This is a result of not only severe labor shortages in such industries, but also due to ad hoc governmental policies accommodating such demands. Consequently, the two nations have witnessed expanding immigration policies, increasing immigrant populations, and developing social movements to counter strict immigration policies.

This research focuses on the three major themes regarding the evolving immigration landscapes of East Asia, specifically Japan and Korea, the two advanced economies with alarming demographic changes. First, it analyzes changes over time in governmental policies on managing immigration control and immigrant access to the basic public services such as healthcare. Second, the study examines activities, strategies and achievements of the counter-forces to the strict immigration policies, including immigrant associations, citizen organizations, and international NGOs and UN Conventions. Third, it studies history, labor and community of the two selected immigrant populations, specifically the Filipinos and the Nepalese, long residing and working in each country.

Research Context and Methods:
Since the early 1990s when Japan witnessed an influx of global immigrant workers, I studied this new phenomenon in central Japan focusing on the two populations, Brazilians of Japanese descent and Nepalese visa overstayers. I published many journal articles and book chapters (see my personal website: http:// http://keikoyamanaka.info/publications.html). In the early 2000s, I extended my study to Korea where immigration policies were similar to those of Japan but increasingly diverging it developed its own. I hypothesized that Korea’s strong civil society contributed partly to the rapid policy changes, whereas Japan’s traditional bureaucratic negotiation resulted in gradual policy changes.

For over the past twenty years I collected data for this project in Japan, Korea and more recently the Philippines, using interviews, surveys and observations. Because changes are rapid, my data need to be updated. For this goal, I conducted field studies in Japan, Korea and the Philippines last year, and Korea this year. I plan to continue follow-up studies in these countries in the near future. I also need to update statistics on immigration published by the government of Japan and Korea, and the data and information collected by non-governmental agencies in each country.

In this academic year, I concentrate on updating immigration statistics and other relevant data in Japan and Korea. I need two undergraduate research apprentices who will engage in collecting:
(1) the governmental data, especially official statements and statistics, regarding immigration control, immigrant labor and employment, residence and family, citizenship, etc., and
(2) the non-governmental data, including those by academics, businesses, labor unions, journalists, immigrant support organizations, and others.

By the end of this project, the two undergraduate apprentices will learn basic knowledge and skills of collecting immigration statistics and information in each country of assignment. They will learn to appreciate one of the most important sociopolitical issues facing Japan and South Korea: immigration.

(1) One apprentice must have an ability to read Japanese language and translate it into English.
(2) The other apprentice must have an ability to read Korean language and translate it into English.
(3) Each apprentice must have good skills of handling Microsoft Excel and Word.
(4) Each apprentice is desired to major in social sciences and humanities, such as anthropology, history, geography, sociology and political sciences, and have some familiarity with East Asian societies and cultures.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Mentor: Keiko Yamanaka, Lecturer Ethnic Studies
Students: TBA

Spring 2018 Participants

A prison to school to employment pipeline?

Although there is now a large literature on the relationship between criminal justice system involvement and labor market outcomes, it focuses almost exclusively on low-skill work. We will engage in a set of research projects that explore the contours of the labor market for college graduates with criminal records. How do employers looking to hire those with AA or BA degrees evaluate candidates with a felony and/or prison record? What are the formal policies around background checks at large employers in the Bay Area? To what degree and under what circumstances does a college degree weaken the stigma of a felony or prison record? Former prisoners are increasingly enrolling in and completing college, but their prospects for long-term employment with a college degree are unclear. Higher education in prison is again being considered as a policy option for improving the life outcomes of prisoners and for reducing recidivism. From a policy perspective, is a college degree a viable pathway toward economic and social reintegration of former prisoners?

Mentor: David Harding (Sociology)

Mac Hoang
Michael Cerda-Jara
Vince Garrett
Michael Alferes
Juan Flores
Brennen Maclean
Samantha Gilmore
Fernando Vallejo

The Shift Project

The Shift project examines the contours, causes, and consequences of unstable and unpredictable work schedules in the retail sector. Drawing on data from tens of thousands of surveys for retail workers at large first in the United States, we describe scheduling practices experienced by low wage workers, examine their consequences for worker and family health and wellbeing, test the firm level predictors of precarious scheduling, and evaluate new policies to regulate these practices. Marianne Motus will work to scrape data from the internet to help build a data base of establishments that can be linked to the survey micro-data.

Mentor: Daniel Schneider (Sociology)

Student: Marianne Motus

Formerly Incarcerated Individuals’ Perceptions of and Experiences with Fair Chance Employment Initiatives

In response to the substantial employment barriers that the justice-involved face, which has resulted in very poor employment outcomes for this group, various levels of government have implemented fair chance employment initiatives to improve access to job opportunities for those with criminal records. “Ban-the-Box” is one example. While a limited number of studies have gauged the effect of such policies on employers’ hiring patterns, to date no studies have explored their impacts on the perceptions and labor market experiences of the justice-involved. To fill this gap in the literature, we ask the following set of questions: To what extent do the justice-involved know that such policies exist, and what do they know about them? How effective do they believe such policies to be for increasing access to jobs? To what extent do these policies affect justice-involved individuals’ own patterns of job search? Finally, to what extent and how does race, class, and gender inform justice-involved’s perceptions and experiences?

Mentor: Sandra Smith (Sociology)

Elaine Yang
Evelyn Villanueva
Joyce Cai
Kaiyu Xu
Olivia Amezcua
Sinporion Phuong
Sriya Srinath
Trinity Morton

Networked Production, Jobs and Inequality in the U.S.

In recent decades the U.S. has experienced dramatic shifts in the organization of production toward increasingly networked forms. These changes appear to have consequences for jobs and inequality in the U.S. Recent research has shown that inequality between firms—rather than within them— is one of the main contributors to overall inequality in the U.S. This suggests that changes in the structures of production networks are an important area of study to inform our understanding of rising inequality. My research investigates these changes and what they have meant for workers, in particular low wage workers. I explore why networked production is happening, in what ways it is happening in key industries, and what its impacts are on regional labor markets. It will include a broad quantitative assessment of domestic networked production across the U.S., as well as a mixed-methods case study of the food services industry in Silicon Valley, California.

Mentor: Jessica Halpern-Finnerty (Center for Labor Research and Education / UC Davis Geography)

Student: Sriya Srinath

Impact of the Public Employment and Minority Political Representation on Minority Labor Market Progress

Project description: This project seeks to understand whether minority political empowerment is linked to economic opportunity in the form of labor market gains for the historically disenfranchised groups, such as African-Americans, Latinos, and other racial/ethnic minorities. We aim to provide evidence that voting rights protection by the federal government is linked to improved wages, better employment opportunities, and other economic benefits.

Mentor: Abhay Aneja (Haas School of Business)

Jason Chen
Simon Zhu
Tomas Villena

2018 Early Childhood Workforce Index

Update to the 2016 Early Childhood Workforce Index. A 50-state report tracking working conditions and public policies related to the early childhood workforce.

Mentor: Caitlin McLean (Center for the Study of Child Care Employment)

Student: Martha Fiehn

Necessary Evil or Public Good: The Origins of the U.S. Early Care and Education Debate and Its Impact on Contemporary Approaches to Reform

Necessary Evil or Public Good will examine the disputes that characterized the beginning of formal early care and education and analyze how these unresolved issues continue to mold contemporary options for reform. Specifically, this project examines the movement for free kindergarten, and the ramifications of the inclusion of kindergarten into the public schools for services focused on children from birth to five.

Mentor: Marcy Whitebook (Center for the Study of Child Care Employment)

Student: Nayada Katavetin

Rethinking economic growth and performance

Using average income (GDP) to measure economic growth and evaluate economic performance does not allow us to address the two major economic challenges of inequality and climate change. Instead we must take a holistic approach to evaluating economic growth that includes how resources are shared (inequality) and environmental degradation (sustainability).

Mentor: Clair Brown (Economics)

Amir Nourishad
Bharvee Patel
Jared Kelly
Jun Wong
Tomas Villena