Works in Progress

Income Segregation and Homelessness in Urban and Suburban Areas in the United States

On the Relationship between Local Temperatures, Available Shelter Beds, and Observed Rates of Unsheltered Homelessness in U.S. Metropolitan Areas


Alvarado, Steven E. and Paul Muniz. 2018. “Racial and Ethnic Heterogeneity in the Effect of MESA on AP STEM Coursework and College STEM Major Aspirations.” Research in Higher Education 59(7): 933-957.
Previous research suggests that racial and ethnic disparities in postsecondary STEM outcomes are rooted much earlier in the educational pipeline. One possible remedy to these disparities is participation in early STEM enrichment programs. We examine the impact of MESA, which is an early program that targets socioeconomically disadvantaged students, on outcomes that may lead students down the path to STEM. We analyze three waves of restricted nationally-representative data from the High School Longitudinal Study that trace the STEM progress of more than 25,000 students throughout high school and into their postsecondary careers. Propensity score matching models reveal that MESA participation increases students’ odds of taking AP STEM courses in high school and their aspirations for declaring a STEM major in college. However, these effects are driven primarily by black and white students, respectively. Latino and Asian students remain largely unaffected. A formal sensitivity analysis concludes that these findings are moderately robust to unobserved confounding. The results are also robust to alternative matching schemes. Collectively, the findings suggest that MESA may improve black students’ high school STEM engagement but may have little impact on black and Latino students’ STEM outcomes in college.

Muniz, Paul. 2011. “The Irrationality of Homelessness: A Sociological Inquiry Using Transaction Cost Economics.” Metamorphosis.
When viewed from the societal level, evidence indicates that it is cheaper to house the homeless and to provide them with necessary resources than to merely manage the problem and let it persist. As the current handling of homeless issues is not economically rational, the existence of homelessness is an empirical mystery that begs for an explanation and a solution. An explanation of the wastefulness of homelessness can be derived by using Oliver E. Williamson’s transaction cost economics model. This model examines transaction costs, which are the costs incurred when making an economic exchange. Through this lens, inefficient policies concerning homelessness can be seen as a “market failure” where transaction costs are excessive. In the absence of a solution, certain “functions of homelessness” emerge where various groups and institutions have a stake in the persistence of this social problem. Williamson argues that the solution to market failure is to build an organization which reduces transaction costs and resolves situational complexities and uncertainties by internalizing them. The supportive housing model, a solution to homelessness promoted nationally by the 100,000 Homes Campaign, represents a viable organizational solution to this particular market failure.