Laura Tach


Laura Tach

Assistant Professor
253 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: (607) 254-5282 Fax: (607) 255-4071
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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, 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).

  • 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 (Fall)
  • PAM 3150: Social Welfare Policy in the United States (Spring)

Selected Publications:


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

Journal Articles

Tach, Laura and Sarah Halpern-Meekin. Forthcoming. “Tax Code Knowledge and Behavioral Responses among EITC Recipients: Policy Insights from Qualitative Data.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

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

Tach, Laura, Kathryn Edin, Hope Harvey, and Brielle Brian. Forthcoming. “The Family-Go-Round: Family Complexity and Father Involvement from a Father’s Perspective.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.

Tach, Laura and Kathryn Edin. 2013. “The Compositional and Institutional Sources of Union Dissolution among Married and Unmarried Parents.” Demography 50: 1789-1818.

McLanahan, Sara, Tach, Laura, and Daniel Schneider. 2013. “The Causal Effect of Father Absence.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 399-427.

Halpern-Meekin, Sarah and Laura Tach. 2013. “Discordance in Couples’ Reporting of Courtship Stages: Implications for Measurement and Marital Quality.” Social Science Research 42(4): 1143-1155.

Mendenhall, Ruby, Kathryn Edin, Jeff Kling, Jennifer Sykes, Laura Tach, and Katrin Kris. 2012. “The Role of the EITC in the Budgets of Low Income Families.” Social Service Review 86(3): 327-400.

Western, Bruce, Bloome, Deirdre, Sosnud, Benjamin, and Laura Tach. 2012. “Economic Insecurity among American Families.”  Annual Review of Sociology 38: 341-359.

Tach, Laura and Sarah Halpern-Meekin. 2012. “Marital Quality and Divorce Decisions: How do Premarital Cohabitation and Nonmarital Childbearing Matter?” Family Relations 61(4): 571-585.

Tach, Laura and Kathryn Edin. 2011. “The Relationship Contexts of Young Disadvantaged Men.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 635(May): 56-75.

Tach, Laura, Ronald Mincy, and Kathryn Edin. 2010. “Parenting as a Package Deal: Relationships, Fertility, and Nonresident Father Involvement among Unmarried Parents.” Demography. 47(1): 181-204.

Tach, Laura. 2009. “More than Bricks and Mortar: Neighborhood Frames, Social Processes, and the Mixed-Income Redevelopment of a Public Housing Project.” City & Community 8(3): 273-303.
Odgers, Candice, Terrie Moffitt, Laura Tach, Robert Sampson. 2009. “The Protective Effects of Neighborhood Collective Efficacy on Children Growing Up in Deprivation: A Developmental Analysis.”  Developmental Psychology 45(4): 942-957.

Tach, Laura and Sarah Halpern-Meekin*. 2009. “How Does Premarital Cohabitation Affect Trajectories of Marital Quality?”  Journal of Marriage and Family 71: 298-317.

Edin, Kathryn, Laura Tach, and Ronald Mincy. 2009. “Claiming Fatherhood: Race and the Dynamics of Paternal Involvement among Unmarried Fathers.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 621: 149-177.

Halpern-Meekin*, Sarah and Laura Tach. 2008. “Heterogeneity in Two-Parent Families and Adolescent Well-Being.”  Journal of Marriage and Family 70: 435-451.

Tach, Laura and George Farkas. 2006. “Ability Grouping and Educational Stratification in the Early School Years.” Social Science Research 35: 1048-1079.

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