Upjohn Institute announces second slate of Dissertation Research Grants

Library books, blurry

The Upjohn Institute has chosen six doctoral students to receive its 2024 Dissertation Research Grants. The grants each provide up to $10,000 to support students at U.S. institutions who have completed all doctoral program requirements except for their dissertations.

This is the second year the Upjohn Institute has awarded the grants. Consistent with the institute’s mission of finding solutions to employment problems and its commitment to encouraging diversity in research, the awards support research on employment-related topics with particular interest in policy-relevant research pertaining to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Grants can help researchers pay for expenses such as acquiring or gaining access to data and research assistance. Grantees may be invited to present their research at the Upjohn Institute. They may also submit a working paper to be considered for inclusion in the institute’s working paper series and develop a policy brief to communicate research implications to a policy audience. 

The Upjohn Institute presents the awards in partnership with the Russell Sage Foundation. The 2024 grantees are: 

  • Adrian Haws, Cornell University
  • Tom Lindman, University of Washington
  • Clara Mejia Orta, Yale University
  • Katharine Sadowski, Cornell University
  • Jiaming Soh, University of Michigan
  • Chas Walker, Boston University

Details on grantees’ dissertation research topics:

Adrian Haws, Cornell University

“Can Immigrants Transfer their Skills? Evidence from International Census Records Awarded Scholars”

Evidence from generations of economists, sociologists, and historians show that immigrants earn less than native born Americans when they arrive in the U.S. The gap between immigrants’ and natives’ earnings could either reflect lower skills or lower payment for existing skills. Doctoral student in economics Adrian Haws will examine immigrants’ skills and occupations in their origin country and compare their post-migration outcomes with those of U.S. natives with the same skills. He will analyze census records from the U.S., Norway, Canada, and Great Britain for his study.

Tom Lindman, University of Washington, Seattle

“Paid Family Leave and Parent Wellbeing: Evidence from Administrative Data and Insurance Claims”

The prevalence of low wage work has increased dramatically in recent decades and low wage workers are substantially less likely than higher wage workers to have access to paid family leave. The rise of low wage work coupled with the lack of a national paid leave program in the U.S. likely has negative consequences for working families. Doctoral student in public policy Tom Lindman will examine the impact of paid family leave on parental wellbeing and the relationship between paid family leave with job quality. He will analyze data from Washington State’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, birth records for Washington State, and the Washington All Payer Claims Database for his study.

Clara Mejia Orta, Yale University

“La Planta: Latinx Worker Survival in U.S. Slaughterhouses”

The meatpacking industry is one the of most hazardous industries in the United States and meatpacking workers face a myriad of poor working conditions, including crowded settings and workplace accidents. Doctoral student in history Clara Mejia Orta will examine how Latinx, immigrant, and refugee meatpacking workers construct community in and outside of meatpacking plants with a focus on the role of unions. She will conduct interviews and analyze oral histories and data from the National Immigration Law Center and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for her study.

Katharine Sadowski, Cornell University

“The Evolution of the Early Childcare Market: Historic Trends and the Effect of Minimum Wage Changes on Access to Quality Care”

Although demand for quality early childcare has increased in recent decades, the overall supply of educators has not kept pace. While state and federal policymakers have worked toward the professionalization of the early childcare workforce, these policies are rarely accompanied by increased funding to support professionalization or provide commensurate compensation. Doctoral student in public policy Katharine Sadowski will examine how the childcare workforce has evolved and how changes in compensation impacts worker wellbeing and the accessibility of quality childcare. She will analyze data from the Longitudinal Business Database, the Integrated Longitudinal Database, the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program, and the American Community Survey and will create a quarterly employee-level early childcare worker panel from 2000-2022 for her study.

Jiaming Soh, University of Michigan

“Estimating the Long-Run Impact of Government Spending on Small Businesses and Minority Entrepreneurs in the United States”

Business ownership is one of the key routes to wealth creation in the United States. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the characteristics and the long-term effects of government spending in the creation and survival of minority-owned businesses in order to help close the racial and ethnic wealth gap. Doctoral student in economics Jiaming Soh will investigate the impact of government contracts on the growth of small businesses and minority entrepreneurs over time. He will analyze data from the USASpending.gov database and the National Establishment Time Series for his study.

Chas Walker, Boston University

“The Union's Inspiration: Black Workers, AFSCME, and the Public Sector Upsurge of the 1960s”

Debates about the future of the labor movement have largely neglected to study the main pattern of union growth in the U.S.: brief upsurges when significant numbers of workers mobilize to build organizations and win collective bargaining rights. Doctoral student in political science Chas Walker will investigate the emergence of the public sector union upsurge of the 1960s with a focus on the role of Black workers and union leaders. He will analyze archival data for his study.

Date: June 27, 2024