Christine Percheski

Assistant Professor of Sociology


Sociologist Christine Percheski’s research is focused on family demography, social inequality, and health policy. She studies the correlation between family characteristics, employment, and social inequality with a particular focus on American women and families with children. Her past work has investigated whether becoming a father affects employment differently for married and unmarried men, as well as how the employment patterns of new mothers vary by their partner status. She has also investigated the employment patterns of college-educated professional women and the so-called “opt-out phenomenon,” finding that women of Generation X with young children have higher full-time employment rates than previous cohorts of American women.  

Percheski’s research has been published in such journals as the American Sociological Review, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Social Science & Medicine. Prior to coming to Northwestern, Percheski was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University.

Current Research

Health Insurance Complexity Within Families and Healthcare Utilization. This project with Rutgers University professor Sharon Bzostek looks at health insurance coverage patterns among American families with children and how these patterns are related to health care utilization. The researchers are analyzing linked data from the National Health Interview Survey and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. New findings from this project suggest that children with public insurance (Medicaid and SCHIP) have different patterns of healthcare utilization and fewer unmet healthcare needs than their siblings without insurance. Families also spend less money getting healthcare for publicly-insured children compared with either privately-insured or uninsured children.

The Great Recession and Fertility Rates. Percheski is also examining the effects of the Great Recession, which started in late 2007, on U.S. family life and fertility rates with data from the National Vital Statistics System. Evidence from previous recessions suggests that fertility declines might result from poor economic conditions, especially high unemployment. Between 2007 and June 2011, the fertility rate dropped from a recent high of 69.5 per 1,000 U.S. women to 64.4. Specifically, Percheski and her colleagues want to understand the effects on nonmarital and multipartner fertility. These are particularly important because nonmarital births and multipartner fertility are associated with family complexity, child well-being, and poverty risk. The investigators anticipate that their findings will lead to a better understanding of how economic forces influence families across different demographic groups. They also hope that such results can assist policymakers when planning policies to help alleviate poverty, support work, and offer family planning services in times of recessions.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Percheski, C., and S. Bzostek. 2013. Health insurance coverage within sibships: Prevalence of mixed coverage and associations with health care utilization. Social Science & Medicine 90:1–10.

Percheski, C., and E. Hargittai. 2011. Health information-seeking in the digital age. Journal of American College Health. 59(5): 379–86.

McCall, L., and C. Percheski. 2010. Income inequality: New trends and research directions. Annual Review of Sociology 36: 329–47.

Wildeman, C., and C. Perchski. 2010. Associations of childhood religious attendance, family structure, and nonmarital fertility across cohorts. Journal of Marriage and Family 71(5): 1294–308.

Percheski, C. 2008. Opting out? Cohort differences in professional women’s employment rates from 1960 to 2005. American Sociological Review 73(3): 497–517.

Percheski, C., and C. Wildeman. 2008. Becoming a dad: Employment trajectories of married, cohabiting, and non-resident fathers. Social Science Quarterly 89(2): 482–501.

McLanahan, S., and C. Percheski. 2008. Family structure and the reproduction of inequalities. Annual Review of Sociology 34: 257–76.

Western, B., D. Bloome, and C. Percheski. 2008. Inequality among American families with children: 1975–2005. American Sociological Review 73(6): 903–20.