Peter Rich
Assistant Professor
Policy Analysis and Management
Cornell Institute for Public Affairs

Martha Van Rensselaer Hall 3M222



I am an Assistant Professor of Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) and Sociology (by courtesy) at Cornell University. My research investigates the connection between structural inequalities and individual choices in the United States. How do selection processes reflect and reinforce racial and socioeconomic gaps in educational attainment, wealth accumulation, childhood health, and economic opportunity? How do micro decisions about neighborhoods and schools contribute to macro segregation and the persistence of inequality over time and between generations? And how are choices influenced not only by individual resources and preferences, but also by public policy and demographic context?

My work ultimately examines the promises and perils of market-oriented public policy, illuminating the conditions under which open choice expands opportunity for under-served populations, and when it exacerbates segregation and stratification. My publications and working papers engage three research areas:

1. Dimensions of inequality in parental housing and schooling decisions 
2. The expression of social status hierarchies in market behavior
3. Economic insecurity and education policy

I hold affiliations with Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality and the Cornell Population Center.

Office Hours
I have limited availability during the 2020-21 academic year. Please email me for a Zoom appointment. Thank you for understanding.


Rich, Peter, Jennifer Candipan, and Ann Owens. Forthcoming. “Segregated Neighborhoods, Segregated Schools: Do Charters Break a Stubborn Link?” Demography. Link to manuscript

Faber, Jacob and Peter Rich (equal authors). 2018. “Financially Overextended: College Attendance as a Contributor to Foreclosures During the Great Recession.” Demography (October). Link to Demography 

Besbris, Max, Jacob Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey (equal authors). 2018. “The Geography of Stigma: Experimental Methods to Identify the Penalty of Place” in Audit Studies: Behind the Scenes with Theory, Method and Nuance, ed. Michael Gaddis. New York, NY: Springer (ISBN #978-3319711522). Link to Springer

Torche, Florencia and Peter Rich. 2017. “Declining Racial Stratification in Marriage Choices? Trends in Black/White Status Exchange in the United States, 1980-2010.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 3(1):31-49. Link to SRE 

Rich, Peter and Jennifer Jennings. 2015. “Choice, Information, and Constrained Options: School Transfers in a Stratified Educational System.” American Sociological Review 80(5):1069-1098.  Link to ASR 

Besbris, Max, Jacob Faber, Peter Rich, and Patrick Sharkey (equal authors). 2015. “The Effect of Neighborhood Stigma on Economic Transactions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(16): 4994-4998.  Article PDF    Link to PNAS

My teaching and advising engages students with relevant content and methods, encourages inclusive classroom discussion, and upholds rigorous academic standards for evaluating claims with empirical evidence.

I teach three courses at Cornell: Social Problems in the U.S. (PAM 2250 / SOC 2070, undergraduate), Introductory Statistics for Policy Analysis and Management Majors (PAM 2101, undergraduate), and Spatial Demography (PAM 6950, graduate).

2016 - Ph.D. in Sociology, New York University
2013 - M.A. in Sociology, New York University
2004 - B.A. in Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

For more information about my research and teaching, and to obtain data analysis replication packages, please visit


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