Emily Parker

Ph.D. Candidate


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, with a concentration in Sociology and minor in Demography. My research is primarily concerned with the political evolution of social policies, the consequences of an unevenly distributed safety net, and how policies impact people’s lives. I also study the intersections between race, gender, family and public policy, with articles published and forthcoming in Population Research and Policy Review and Journal of Marriage and Family.


Health and Social Policy, Poverty and Inequality, Gender and Family, Spatial Demography, Mixed-Methods

Committee Members:

Laura Tach (chair), Vida Maralani, Sharon Sassler, and Erin York Cornwell


Health Without Wealth: The Historical, Social, and Spatial Context of the Community Health Center Program

My dissertation examines the Community Health Center (CHC) program, an often-overlooked safety net institution that now serves more than 29 million Americans, or roughly one-third of the nation’s poor population. To understand the historical, spatial, and social aspects of this federal program, I use a mixed-methods approach through combining three original data collection efforts: (1) historical datasets on the location and funding of health centers, (2) in-depth interviews with health center patients and providers, and (3) primary documents gathered from eight presidential libraries to compare the political history of the CHC program with Medicaid. Supported by the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, the Fahs Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, the Cornell Center for Study of Inequality, and the Cornell Office of Engagement Initiatives, the findings from my dissertation are poised to advance scholarship on spatial variation in health inequalities, stigmatization in public program participation, and how political processes influence social policies.