Professor of Sociology
Co-Director, Center for the Study of Wealth and Inequality
Past Research: Professor DiPrete has published widely on the evolution and career impact of internal labor markets, the institutional determinants of trends in the process of status attainment, and the comparative study of how labor market structure and state social welfare policies have mediated the impact of macroeconomic change on the character of work careers in the U.S. and many countries of western Europe. A second theme in his research concerns the socioeconomic life course and how it is affected by welfare state policies, labor market structure, and family dynamics. His work demonstrates that the interdependence of men and women on each other’s earnings has grown in the U.S. to such an extent that the median male now suffers a decline in his standard of living following a union dissolution, even though children are still much more likely to live in the household of their mother following a break-up. Finally, his research finds that the national structure of labor markets and welfare states affects fertility rates; his research found considerable evidence that fertility rates are sensitive to perceived non-monetary costs of childbearing and some evidence that monetary costs also matter, though these costs appear to be driven more by cross-national variation in the ability of women to combine work and childrearing and in the generosity of childbirth-related social welfare benefits than by differences in wage structures. DiPrete’s life course research has been based on secondary analysis of administrative data, repeated cross-sectional survey data, and numerous panel surveys for the U.S. and Europe, has been funded by NSF and by NIH, and has been published repeatedly in the leading general and specialized sociology journals. His expertise concerning the development and testing of cross-national (multilevel) models for family dynamics has played an important role in the Designing New Models for Explaining Family Change and Variation project (he is a co-principal investigator on the NICHD contract). He has also published important contributions to methodology, including early applications of partial likelihood methods to the analysis of socioeconomic dynamics, the application of stereotype ordered regression models and multilevel models to the study of social mobility, and most recently, the development of methods for assessing the potential bias when estimating instrumental variables regression with imperfect instruments.
Present/Future Research: DiPrete’s current and future research consists of three major projects. One project concerns the analysis of gender and race differences in educational attainment and addresses the causes of the rising gender gap in favor of women in college completion, the role of social skills and non-academic behaviors in the production of this gap, the question of how gender differences evolve over the life course, and the reasons why the gender gap is larger for African-Americans than for Whites. This work, much of which is collaborative with Claudia Buchmann at OSU, involves analyses of the ECLS-K, the NELS, Add Health, and (for trend analyses) the CPS and the General Social Surveys. DiPrete’s education research is currently funded by grants from the Spencer Foundation and from the National Educational Research Association, and also by an NIH-funded seed grant to Buchmann. A second project, which is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, is collaborative research with Andrew Gelman, Julien Teitler, and Tian Zheng on the level of social polarization in the social networks of contemporary Americans along dimensions of race, class, religious behavior, political ideology, and family structure (traditional, heterosexual cohabitating, and gay couples), using data that project members have collected in a special module of the 2006 General Social Survey. A third project, which is also funded by the National Science Foundation, is an analysis of the impact of social comparison processes—both formal in the guise of official benchmarking and informal—on the upward trend in the compensation of elite occupations in the U.S. from the early 1990s to the present time, with a particular focus on corporate executives and university presidents. All three of these projects involve collaboration with current Columbia graduate students.
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