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Quincy Thomas Stewart

Associate Professor of Sociology

PhD, Demography and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2001

As a social demographer, Quincy Thomas Stewart is interested in the dynamic processes that create inequalities in socioeconomic status, health, and mortality. He has published on quantitative methods for studying inequality and estimating mortality, as well as on racial and ethnic disparities in socioeconomic status, health, and mortality. 

Stewart’s current work includes analyzing theories of racial inequality using agent-based models, examining the role of disease prevalence in mortality outcomes, investigating mentoring networks in social science, and studying racial disparities in a range of outcomes including attitudes, socioeconomic status, and health. He will be part of IPR’s research programs in Social Disparities and Health and Poverty, Race, and Inequality.

In 2006, Stewart was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan. Before joining Northwestern, he was a faculty member in sociology at Indiana University.

Current Research

Big Bad Racists, Subtle Prejudice, and Minority Victims: An Agent-Based Model of the Dynamics of Racial Inequality. How many racists does it take to maintain racial inequality? Historical evidence from the Jim Crow era suggests a society needs a large number of racist advocates in various social arenas, but more recent research cites a significant decline in racist beliefs that have not been paralleled by declines in racial inequality. Stewart examines this discrepancy using an agent-based model of a Nash bargaining game, with results revealing that one needs an enormous amount of discrimination to create and maintain racial inequality.  However, when nondiscriminating agents (i.e., non-racists) are allowed to use the race of competitors in decision making via social learning, the need for discriminatory agents in maintaining inequality is reduced to nil.

Diagnosing Death: The Link Between Race, Hypertension Prevalence, and Hypertension-Related Death in the United States. Racial disparities in hypertension embody one mechanism leading to the excess mortality among blacks. Stewart and his colleague examine the link between racial disparities in hypertension prevalence and disparities in diagnosing—or labeling—deaths as hypertension-related. The results show that blacks are two times more likely than whites to have their deaths labeled as hypertension across the adult lifecourse and suggest either statistical discrimination in cause-of-death diagnoses or a gross underdiagnosis of hypertension in life.

Black Death: Persistent Disparities in Changing Times. Racial mortality disparities are significant across much of the lifecourse. Countless studies have aimed to reveal the factors responsible for these disparities and related policy means to alleviate them. Stewart examines the history of racial disparities in age-specific mortality since Jim Crow and analyzes the role of underlying causes in producing these disparities. His results indicate that the age-pattern of mortality disparities is quite robust across time—even when we include fixed effects for year or cohort—and that changes and/or differences in the distribution of underlying causes across time are modestly related to mortality disparities over the 70-year period.

Skin Tone and Health Outcomes. A racial characteristic that plays a key role in social interaction is skin tone. Research shows that blacks with lighter skin, on average, experience an array of social benefits not shared with their darker-skinned counterparts. Stewart and his collaborators examine how mortality covaries with observed skin tone among blacks and in relation to whites. The results show that skin tone is a significant determinant of mortality among blacks and in relation to whites. Thus, the nuanced social experiences of blacks with different observed skin tones markedly changes the mortality experience of racial inequality. Research on the nuanced social processes that connect differences in observed skin tone to health outcomes promises to better illuminate the experience of racial inequality and policy mechanisms we can use to undermine it.

Selected Publications

Articles and Book Chapters

Stewart, Q., R. Cobb, and V. Keith. 2018. The color of death: race, observed skin tone, and all-cause mortality in the United StatesEthnicity and Health 8:1–23.

Zuberi, T., E. Patterson, and Q. Stewart. 2015. Race, methodology, and social construction in the genomic era. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 661(1): 109–27.

Stewart, Q. 2011. The cause-deleted index: Estimating the role of underlying causes in mortalityMathematical Population Studies 18(4): 234–57.

Stewart, Q., and A. Sewell. 2011. Quantitative methods for analyzing categorical inequality. In Rethinking Race and Ethnicity in Research Methods, ed. J. Stanfield. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Left Coast Press.

Stewart, Q., and J. Dixon. 2010. Is it race, immigrant status or both? An analysis of wage disparities among men in the United StatesInternational Migration Review 44(1): 173–201.

Stewart, Q. 2009. The shape of inequality: Racial disparities in age-specific mortalityBiodemography and Social Biology 54(2): 152–82.

Stewart, Q. 2008. Swimming upstream: Theory and methodology in race research. In White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology, ed. T. Zuberi and E. Bonilla-Silva. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield.

Stewart, Q., and R. Ray. 2007. Hurricane Katrina and the race flood: Interactive lessons for quantitative research on raceRace, Gender & Class 14(1-2): 38–59.

Stewart, Q. 2006. Reinvigorating relative deprivation: A new measure for a classic conceptSocial Science Research 35(3): 779–802.