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Christine Percheski

Associate Professor of Sociology

PhD, Sociology, Princeton University, 2008

Sociologist Christine Percheski’s research is focused on family demography, economic inequality, and health policy. Her research is particularly concerned with understanding the wellbeing of American women and families with children. Her past work has investigated how changes in family characteristics are associated with the rise in economic inequality among U.S. households, how the employment patterns of new mothers vary by their partner status, how the Great Recession affected pregnancy rates, and how health insurance coverage varies by family characteristics. She has also investigated the rise in wealth inequality among families with children in the United States, including increases in racial/ethnic wealth gaps. 

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

Current Research

Economic Inequality among Young Adults. This project investigates how the income and earnings of U.S. Millennials during young adulthood compare to those of previous birth cohorts. Millennial women have higher median incomes and median earnings and lower earnings inequality than previous cohorts of women during young adulthood. In contrast, Millennial men have lower median income and higher earnings inequality than previous cohorts. A more in-depth comparison of Millennials with Gen X young adults add complexity to the story, with different patterns by race, ethnicity, and education. Findings from this research project can help inform policies related to employment, taxes, and education.

Fertility and Marriage Change among American Indians. This project documents changes in marriage and birth rates for American Indian and Alaska Native women in the United States. The project interrogates why marriage and birth rates are falling for this group and whether there are differences in the pace of decline across geographic areas or tribal groups. Large changes in birth rates, such as those investigated in this project, have with important implications for politics and policy domains including education, employment, and health care.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Percheski, C., and C. Gibson-Davis. Forthcoming. Marriage, kids, and the picket fence? Household type and wealth among U.S. households, 1989–2019. Sociological Science.

Percheski, C., and C. Gibson-Davis. 2020. A penny on the dollar: Racial inequities in wealth among households with children. Socius 6:1–17.

Gibson-Davis, C., and C. Percheski. 2018. Children and the elderly: Wealth inequality among America’s dependents. Demography 55(3): 1009–32.

Percheski, C. 2018. Marriage, family structure, and maternal employment trajectories. Social Forces 96(3): 1211–42.

Percheski, C., and S. Bzostek. 2017. Public health insurance and health care utilization for children in immigrant families. Maternal & Child Health Journal 21(12): 2153–60.

Cannon, S., and C. Percheski. 2017. Fertility change in the American Indian /Alaska Native population, 1980–2010. Demographic Research 37(1): 1–12.

Percheski, C., and R. Kimbro. 2017. Deciding to wait: Partnership status, economic conditions, and pregnancy during the Great Recession. Sociological Science 4:176–95.