Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE Fellow Michael Esposito Receives Ph.D. in Sociology

Posted: 7/6/2018 (CSDE Research)

Congratulations to CSDE Fellow Michael Esposito for receiving his Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Washington! Dr. Esposito will begin a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Social Research’s Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan, beginning September 2018.

Mike established a research agenda in population health early on in graduate school that seeks to explain how and why race matters for health. His work describes the processes that generate racial disparities in health outcomes and addresses methodological difficulties by applying cutting-edge methods to unique data. Specifically, Mike’s research connects health disparities to institutional and structural features related to race—for example, education, mass incarceration, and residential segregation).

In his innovative dissertation, “Interwoven Social Determinants:  Race, Education, and Health in the United States,” Mike interrogates the well-documented heterogeneity in the health-protective effects of education in the US. This research describes the processes that give rise to smaller health protective effects of education in the black population than the white population. To estimate the effects of education on health, the study employs machine/statistical learning methodologies and techniques that allow for causal(-like) inferences from observational data. Mike examined different mechanisms, including the role of income in explaining black-white differences in the educational gradient in health.

Mike’s paper in Longitudinal and Life Course Studies with his CSDE mentors, Jerald Herting and Hedwig Lee, and other co-authors estimates the impact of early adult incarceration on health. In another paper that will be published soon, Mike, and his coauthors Frank Edwards and Hedwig Lee, explicate racial-disparities in police-involved mortality (i.e., deaths, of civilians, resulting from interactions with law-enforcement) by examining how place or location factors into this important institutional and public health concern. The paper utilizes crowd-sourced data on fatal encounters to address several shortcomings in federal document of deaths involving police and uses Bayesian, multilevel models, with weakly informative priors to achieve precision on relatively sparse events.

In addition to his CSDE Fellowship and completing the Graduate Certificate in Demographic Methods, Mike completed a concentration in social statistics through the Center for Statistics and Social Sciences. Last year, Mike was also a Dissertation Fellow through the UW Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP).