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xzhang2282@wisc.edu

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Welcome!

I am an NICHD postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, through the Health Disparities Research Scholars Program. I received my PhD in Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University in August 2018. I work in the areas of family demography, race and ethnicity, health, and inequality. My doctoral dissertation and previous research examine how family relationships, experiences of inequality, and experiences with school shape children’s relationship and fertility outcomes, as well as experiences with the criminal justice system, over the life course. My research has been published in Sociological ForumContemporary Perspectives in Family Research and Race and Ethnicity: Moving from Sociological Imagination to Sociological Mindfulness. My work has been funded by grants from the NICHD, National Science Foundation, the Cornell Population Center, Cornell’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, the Population Reference Bureau, and the Scholars Strategy Network among others.

Please see my CV here.

EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE

PhD, Cornell University

2018

Policy Analysis and Management, with a minor in Demography

MS, Cornell University

2016

Policy Analysis and Management

BA, University of Illinois at Chicago, Honors College

2012

Economics, summa cum laude, with minors in French and Math

 

PUBLICATIONS

 

School Connectedness, Parents, and Depressive Symptoms over the Life Course

Forthcoming at Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research.

Presented at ASA in 2016 and PAA in 2017.

The United States is projected to become a majority-minority society. However, disparities in mental health persist in the United States across racial and ethnic groups. Using Waves I, II, and III of Add Health, I examine how school, teacher, and parental contexts in adolescence are associated with depressive symptoms in later adolescence and emerging adulthood. School connectedness, student-teacher relationships, and parent-child relationships were explored to test their associations with depressive symptoms across race, ethnicity, and gender, across time. Parental factors were used as mediating factors for depressive symptoms. Overall, parental factors were found to moderate the relationship between school connectedness, relationships with teachers, and depressive symptoms. Results varied across race, ethnicity, and gender, with school connectedness mattering more for Hispanics, teacher relationships for Blacks, and maternal warmth for whites.

The Age of Independence, Revisited: Parents and Interracial Union Formation over the Life Course

with Sharon Sassler. Forthcoming at Sociological Forum.

 

In attempting to account for the rise in interracial relationships, Rosenfeld (The Age of Independence, 2007) argued that parents’ influence on children’s choice of romantic partners had waned. However, Rosenfeld was not able to test this supposition directly, due to the cross-sectional nature of the census data he relied upon. Using Waves I and III of Add Health, we test whether adolescent reports of maternal closeness and parental control (measured in Wave I) are associated with youth’s likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging adulthood. We find that parental factors do influence emerging adults’ romantic relationships, though this varies by race, ethnicity, and gender. 

FELLOWSHIPS & AWARDS

RESEARCH

The Age of Independence, Revisited: Parents and Interracial Union Formation over the Life Course

School Connectedness, Parents, and Depressive Symptoms over the Life Course

Under review

Parents and Non-Marital Births in Young Adulthood

Sole-authored

Presented at PAA in 2017.

In a period of increasing marital and fertility delay, and a delaying transition to adulthood, the role of parents is becoming increasingly important. The purpose of this paper is to understand how parent-child relationships are associated with the likelihood of having a non-marital birth. Data from Waves I and IV of Add Health was used to examine how parental factors (maternal closeness, attitudes towards sexual activity, parental control, and maternal warmth and communication) were associated with the likelihood of having a non-marital birth in emerging and young adulthood. Using the framework of parental socialization, I find that individual attitudes, decreased mother closeness, and maternal permissive attitudes towards sex are associated with an increase in the likelihood of having a non-marital birth. I also find evidence that parental influence wanes across time from adolescence to young adulthood. 

Geographic Diversity and Interracial Union Formation over the Life Course

Sole-authored

Presenting at PAA in 2018.

Interracial relationships and unions are a marker of social distance between racial and ethnic groups. Using Waves I, III, and IV of Add Health, this study examines the roles of diversity in schools and geographic regions in adolescence in the likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging and young adulthood. Adolescents who lived in a Census tract that had fewer of their own racial and ethnic groups were more likely to be in interracial relationships in emerging and in young adulthood. Those who attended more diverse high schools were also more likely to be in interracial relationships, but this was more pronounced in emerging adulthood for whites and Blacks. In young adulthood, Hispanics who went to primarily white high schools were more likely to be in interracial relationships.

Geographic Diversity and Interracial Union Formation over the Life Course

 

Parents, Peers and Pressure: The Dynamics of Interracial Relationships 

2019

with Sharon Sassler. Race & Ethnicity: Moving from Sociological Imagination to Sociological Mindfulness

This chapter focuses on the unique challenges that those in interracial relationships may face from their parents and peers. In particular, we review the various pressures young couples may face as at different relationship stages. How do parents and peers shape the likelihood of entering into and progressing a relationship that crosses racial or ethnic lines, what pressures

are brought to bear on those who embark on interracial relationships, and how does this influence the behaviors of individuals embarking on relationships with those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds? This chapter will facilitate students’ discussions on their experiences of interracial relationships. We provide background information on the history of race relations with regards to marriage in the United States, and how race, ethnicity, gender, and immigration status factor into interracial relationship and union formation.

Situating the Experience of Maternal Incarceration: Child and Young Adult Context

2015

with Allison Dwyer Emory. Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research.

Link here.

Purpose: We descriptively examined measures of family structure, socioeconomic disadvantage, and exposure to crime, violence, and sub- stance use in young adulthood and childhood for those who experienced maternal incarceration as children.

Methodology/Approach: We used data from waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We com- pared these individuals to two groups: those who did not experience maternal incarceration and those who experienced paternal incarceration. We generated weighted means and conducted F-tests using bivariate regressions to determine where these groups significantly differed.

Findings: We found that individuals whose mothers were incarcerated during their childhoods experienced greater hardships in both childhood and young adulthood than those whose mothers were not incarcerated.

Parents and Non-Marital Births in Young Adulthood

Under review. Presented at PAA in 2017.

In a period of increasing marital and fertility delay, and a delaying transition to adulthood, the role of parents is becoming increasingly important. The purpose of this paper is to understand how parent-child relationships are associated with the likelihood of having a non-marital birth. Data from Waves I and IV of Add Health was used to examine how parental factors (maternal closeness, attitudes towards sexual activity, parental control, and maternal warmth and communication) were associated with the likelihood of having a non-marital birth in emerging and young adulthood. Using the framework of parental socialization, I find that individual attitudes, decreased mother closeness, and maternal permissive attitudes towards sex are associated with an increase in the likelihood of having a non-marital birth. I also find evidence that parental influence wanes across time from adolescence to young adulthood. 

Adolescent Exposure to Diverse Neighborhoods and Schools: Implications for Interracial Dating, Cohabitation, and Marriage in Adulthood

Presented at PAA and the Add Health Users Conference in 2018. PAA 2018 Poster Winner.

Interracial relationships and unions are a marker of social distance between racial and ethnic groups. Using Waves I, III, and IV of Add Health, this study examines the roles of diversity in schools and geographic regions in adolescence in the likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging and young adulthood. Adolescents who lived in a Census tract that had fewer of their own racial and ethnic groups were more likely to be in interracial relationships in emerging and in young adulthood. Those who attended more diverse high schools were also more likely to be in interracial relationships, but this was more pronounced in emerging adulthood for whites and Blacks. In young adulthood, Hispanics who went to primarily white high schools were more likely to be in interracial relationships.

School Prejudice and Substance Use from Adolescence to Emerging Adulthood

with Daniel B. Lee

Presented at PAA in 2018.

Racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes have been consistently documented in the health literature. Until recently, many studies have evidenced associations between prejudice and health behaviors using cross-sectional data. However, studies assessing the link between prejudice and health behaviors from adolescence to adulthood are limited. In an effort to address this gap, we

use Waves I, II, and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to examine how perceptions of school prejudice over time influence cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and marijuana use from adolescence to emerging adulthood. Variation across race and ethnicity is explored. Preliminary results indicate that school prejudice in adolescence (Wave I) is associated with higher cigarette use, alcohol use, and marijuana use in later adolescence (Wave II). White and Asian adolescents who perceived school prejudice were more likely to use alcohol, while Hispanics were more likely to use marijuana in later adolescence.

The Effect of Local Labor Market Conditions on Cohabitation

with Sharon Sassler and Katherine Michelmore

Presented at PAA in 2015.

To what extent are variations in state earnings policies – such as minimum wage laws – associated with entrance into cohabitation? In this analysis, we use the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine how state-level labor market characteristics affect cohabitation rates among 18-45 year old women. We focus on women who have no more than a high school diploma to isolate the sample of women most likely to be affected by fluctuations in the low-wage labor market. We also examine how state unemployment rates affect cohabitation decisions, as previous work has shown that changes in living arrangements are likely to occur following a job loss or in times of high unemployment (Kreider, 2010; Wiemers, 2010). Results suggest that women with low levels of education are more likely to cohabit when state unemployment rates increase, and cohabitation rates fall when states increase their minimum wages. These findings suggest that financial considerations play an important role in cohabitation decisions among low-educated women, and highlight the importance of paying closer attention to macroeconomic factors that shape living arrangements.

RESEARCH

OUTSTANDING TEACHING ASSISTANT AWARD IN POLICY ANALYSIS AND MANAGEMENT

2018

PAA POSTER AWARD WINNER

2018

NSF GRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP

2014-2017

TONI MORRISON AWARD FOR GRADUATE MENTORSHIP

2016

POPULATION REFERENCE BUREAU U.S. POLICY COMMUNICATION TRAINING FELLOW

2016

SCHOLARS STRATEGY NETWORK CRIMINAL JUSTICE FELLOW

2014-2015

BCTR GRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANTSHIP

2013-2014

CORNELL FELLOWSHIP

2012

TEACHING

 

Teaching Assistant

Fall 2017 - Spring 2018

I was a TA for Race & Public Policy in Fall 2017. Please see my teaching evaluations here.

 

In Spring 2018, I co-developed and was a teaching assistant for a course with Dr. Sharon Sassler called Modern Romance: Sex, Love, and Union Formation in the Internet Age, based on Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg's book. I received an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the department of Policy Analysis and Management for this course. Please see my teaching evaluations here.

OADI Graduate Mentor

2015-Present

I mentored four undergraduate students on their research projects.

Guest Lecture, PAM 2030

March 2017

I gave a lecture on how to write an effective policy brief.

Guest Lecture, PAM 2030

April 2016

I gave a guest lecture on Interracial Relationships and Marriages.

Cornell Prison Education Program Teaching Assistant 

Spring 2013

I gave lectures and graded for an English Literature course.

REFERENCES

 

Dr. Sharon Sassler
sharon.sassler@cornell.edu

Professor, Cornell University

Professor, Cornell University

Dr. Kelly Musick
musick@cornell.edu

Professor, Cornell University

Dr. Sharon Sassler
sharon.sassler@cornell.edu

Professor, Departments of Policy Analysis and Management and Sociology, Cornell University

Dr. Daniel T. Lichter
dtl28@cornell.edu

Professor, Departments of Policy Analysis and Management and Sociology, Cornell University

Dr. Kelly Musick
musick@cornell.edu

Professor, Departments of Policy Analysis and Management and Sociology, Cornell University

Dr. James M. Raymo
jraymo@ssc.wisc.edu

Professor of Sociology and Henry Wendt III Professor of East Asian Studies, Princeton University

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