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Ryan Finnigan


  • Ph.D., Sociology, Duke University, 2013
  • M.A., Sociology, Duke University, 2010
  • B.A., Sociology, Indiana University, 2007
  • B.S., Mathematics, Indiana University, 2007


Ryan Finnigan is an assistant professor of sociology at UC Davis, and an affiliate of the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research. Prior to Davis, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in Berlin, Germany. His research broadly covers poverty, inequality, and policy in the U.S. and cross-nationally using quantitative data and methods. 

Research Focus

Professor Finnigan’s research has several themes. One addresses recent trends in racial/ethnic inequality in metropolitan housing and labor markets in the United States. How have racial/ethnic wage inequalities changed in the transition to the “new economy”? How have racial/ethnic homeownership gaps changed as White-Black residential segregation declined over time, and White-Latino segregation increased?

Other research examines contributors to and consequences of poverty and material deprivation. How effective are welfare state policies and institutions like labor unions in limiting poverty? What kinds of trade-offs do households make when expenses exceed their income? How do poverty and deprivation affect outcomes like health?

Another strand of research focuses on the connections between social change, policy, and public attitudes. Does immigration reduce public support for welfare state policies? Does legalization of same-sex marriage and partnerships increase positive attitudes toward gays and lesbians?

Selected Publications

David Brady, Ryan Finnigan, & Sabine Huebgen. Forthcoming. "Rethinking the Risks of Poverty: A Framework for Analyzing Prevalences and Penalties." American Journal of Sociology

Ryan Finnigan. 2014. "Racial and ethnic stratification in the relationship between homeownership and self-rated health." Social Science & Medicine 115:72-81

David Brady & Ryan Finnigan. 2014. "Does immigration undermine support for social policy?" American Sociological Review 79(1): 17-42

David Brady, Regina Baker, & Ryan Finnigan. 2013. "When unionization disappears: State-level unionization and working and poverty in the U.S." American Sociological Review 78(5):872-896


Professor Finnigan regularly teaches Soc 3: Social Problems, which surveys several large social issues like poverty, gender pay disparities, and racial/ethnic residential segregation. The course also focuses on bridging “common sense” understandings of these issues with social scientific research. He also regularly teaches Soc 46B, an introductory statistics course. The course is based on applying statistical data and methods to research questions about inequality, and evaluating published quantitative studies.