Seed Grant Awards, 2011-2012

Congratulations to the 2011-2012 Seed Grant Award Recipients! Scroll down to see project abstracts.

The Impact of the Haitian Elite on Development

Suresh Naidu (Economics and International Public Affairs)
James Robinson

This research project aims to estimate the impact of collusion among members of a segment of the upper class in Haiti on economic outcomes. We will first construct a global picture of the economic elite in Haiti and their relationships to different economic sectors and specific firms and products. To our knowledge, despite a heavy focus on the Haitian elite in the qualitative literature, our effort is the first systematic attempt to create a comprehensive map of the social and political connections of this group. We will then examine the extent to which elite control of different industries and firms can account for different aspects of economic behavior, such as the mark-up of prices over costs, or the difference between international and domestic prices. We will use this estimation to test the oft-cited hypothesis that elite control over the economy is one of the main drivers of poverty in Haiti. While Haiti is an important case in its own right, this question is important for many states with high levels of poverty and inequality. This project has the potential to fill an important gap in our understanding of ienquality and development, as little rigorous quantitative work has been done in this area.

Tracking refugee adjustment, adaptation and integration on resettlement in the  US: an exploratory study utilizing existing records for refugees resettling in  Columbus, OH, Dallas, TX and Harrisonburg, VA since 2005 

Alastair Ager (Population & Family Health)
Lisa Bates (Epidemiology)
Yao Lu (Sociology)

Although  between  50,000  and  75,000 refugees resettle  in the US  each  year, there  is  little  understanding of the processes and outcomes of their adaptation and integration. A conceptual  framework developed by Ager and Strang (2008) has attracted interest as a model to consider  key factors shaping the dynamics of refugee settlement, and its impact on adjustment, well‐ being and health. Of particular interest is the role of differing forms of social capital – bonding, bridging,  and  linking  –  in  supporting  processes  of  refugee  resource  acquisition, and the potential for  discerning  discrete migrant  ‘trajectories’  based  upon strength  of resources in these and other domains (e.g. employment, education, language and cultural knowledge etc.).  Church World Service (CWS) is one of the largest organizations in the US working to support  refugee resettlement. CWS has supported the settlement of over 70,000 refugees across 36  sites  in the US since 1999. Committed to a deeper understanding of the outcomes of their  resettlement  work,  CWS  will  work  with  Columbia  University  to  explore  the  insights  into  adaptation and integration available from pre‐existing data held by the organization. Focusing  on three sites  (Columbus, Ohio;  Dallas,  Texas;  and  Harrisonburg,  Virginia) researchers  will  identify from data on over 7,000 refugee households predictors of successful adaptation and  integration. To facilitate analysis beyond the 90‐day immediate resettlement period for which  central record‐keeping is mandated, for 5% of households resettled across these three sites  between 2007 and 2009 information will be complemented by data abstracted from case notes  (which detail ongoing contact between caseworkers and resettled refugees). This preliminary  investigation will serve as a foundation for the planning of a major study informing national  policy on refugee resettlement. 

Does structural discrimination explain health disparities in the US?

Mark L. Hatzenbuehler (Sociomedical Sciences)
Alicia Lukachko (Epidemiology)
Katherine M. Keyes (Epidemiology)

African Americans, relative to Whites, face significantly higher levels of morbidity and mortality, even when accounting for racial differences in socioeconomic factors and health behaviors.1 One potential explanation for this persistent disparity is differential exposure to racial discrimination. While several studies have documented inverse associations between racial-ethnic discrimination and health, multiple studies have failed to find a relationship,2 and others document curvilinear associations.3 One factor that may account for these inconsistencies is the use of self-report measures of discrimination. These measures have multiple limitations, including susceptibility to recall bias and the under- or over-reporting of events due to lack of awareness or psychological factors (such as personality and coping style) which may also affect health outcomes.4 The current study addresses gaps in the existing research by focusing on structural forms of discrimination (which may not be perceived or reported on an individual level) and by explicitly testing the hypothesis that discrimination accounts for racial disparities in health. Using the approach of our previous work,5 we will examine the relationship between state-level indicators of structural discrimination, such as disparities in rates of political participation and incarceration, and multiple measures of health obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We will examine whether structural discrimination (a) predicts poor health outcomes among African Americans, and (b) explains disparities in these outcomes between African Americans and Whites.