Laura Tach


Laura Tach

Assistant Professor
253 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: 607-254-5282 Fax: (607) 255-4071
View Cornell University Contact Info
Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

Dr. Laura Tach is a sociologist who studies urban poverty and family life. Her mixed-methods research examines how neighborhoods and families reproduce inequality and how public policy affects these processes. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University. Prior to joining the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, Laura was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Current Research Activities:

Laura's current research examines how social policies affect urban poverty and family life. Her first area of research studies how neighborhood inequality has changed as a result of housing policies designed to deconcentrate poverty.  With funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she has conducted mixed-method studies of the dynamics of mixed-income neighborhoods in the United States. Papers emerging from this work investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of neighborhood economic diversity, the social dynamics among residents when housing policies deconcentrate poverty, and the consequences of poverty deconcentration for neighborhood health environments and resident health behaviors.

Laura’s second area of research examines family structure and economic coping strategies among the urban poor. With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the William T. Grant Foundation, she has examined how family instability and complexity influence the well-being of unmarried parents, the dynamics of paternal involvement following nonmarital births, and how family instability affects household income volatility.  She is also involved in a collaborative study funded by the Ford Foundation that examines the public and private strategies low-income families use to make ends meet in the post-welfare reform era, with a focus on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Current Public Engagement Activities:

Halpern-Meekin, Sarah, Laura Tach, Jennifer Sykes, and Kathryn Edin. 2016. “A Hand Up for Lower-Income Families.” Contexts.

Tach, Laura and Kathryn Edin. 2015. “When Taxes Aren’t A Drag.” New York Times Op-Ed.

Tach, Laura. 2014. “How Low-Income Americans Understand and React to the Earned Income Tax Credit.” Policy Brief, Scholar Strategy Network.     

Tach, Laura. 2013. “Mixed-Income Community Dynamics: Five Insights from Ethnography.” Evidence Matters. Department of Housing and Urban Development.    

Tach, Laura and Alicia Eads. 2013. “The Cost of Breaking Up.” Focus, Institute for Research on Poverty. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • B.A. Sociology, Pennsylvania State University
  • A.M. Sociology, Harvard University
  • Ph.D. Sociology & Social Policy, Harvard University

Courses Taught:
  • PAM 3250: Neighborhoods & Housing Policy
  • PAM 3150: Social Welfare Policy in the United States
  • PAM 4190: Poverty, Policy, & Child Development
  • PAM 3160: Population Controversies in Europe & the US (Turin, Italy)

Selected Publications:


Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Kathryn Edin, Laura Tach, and Jennifer Sykes McLaughlin. 2015. It’s Not Like I’m Poor: The Financial Lives of the Working Poor. University of California Press.

- Media Coverage: New York Times, Boston Globe, Kansas City Star, Providence Journal, KERA (Texas NPR Affiliate), WPR (Wisconsin NPR Affiliate), Majority Report, CNNMoney, The Week

Recent Journal Articles

Tach, Laura, Sara Jacoby, Douglas J. Wiebe, Therese Guerra, and Therese S. Richmond. 2016. “The Effect of Microneighborhood Conditions on Adult Educational Attainment in a Subsidized Housing Intervention.” Housing Policy Debate 26(2): 380-397.
-  Media Coverage: The Atlantic, New York Magazine, How Housing Matters

Tach, Laura and Alicia Eads*. 2015. “The Economic Consequences of Marital and Cohabitation Dissolution.” Demography 52(2): 401-432.

Tach, Laura. 2015. “Social Mobility in an Era of Family Instability and Complexity.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 657: 83-97. 

Tach, Laura. 2014. “Diversity, Inequality, and Microsegregation: Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion in a Racially and Economically Diverse Community.” Cityscape 16(3): 13-45.

Tach, Laura, Kathryn Edin, Hope Harvey*, and Brielle Bryan*. 2014. “The Family-Go-Round: Family Complexity and Father Involvement from a Father's Perspective.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 654(1): 169-184.

Tach, Laura and Sarah Halpern-Meekin. 2014. “Tax Code Knowledge and Behavioral Responses among EITC Recipients: Policy Insights from Qualitative Data.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 33(2) 413-439.

Tach, Laura and Sara Sternberg Greene*. 2014. “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Economic and Cultural Explanations for How Lower-Income Families Manage Debt.” Social Problems 61(1): 1-21.

Selected Keywords:
Social Demography, Neighborhood Inequality, Family Structure, Stratification, Social Policy

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.