Alexander Adames

Alexander Adames

Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Sociology,Princeton University

McNeil 313


Alexander Adames (pronounced uh-dahm-ehz) is currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University's Department of Sociology, where he will be for the 2023-2025 academic years. He will be on the academic job market during the 2024-2025 academic year. In 2023, he received his PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed an MA in Statistics and Data Science from the Wharton School and was a recipient of the Institute of Education Sciences  (IES) Pre-doctoral Fellowship.

Alexander is primarily interested in the study of social stratification and social mobility. Within this realm, he is currently focused on disparities among different racial groups and adults from distinct childhood socioeconomic upbringings (i.e., "the long arm of childhood"). Alexander's current research agenda examines heterogeneity in Black-White economic disparities. This focus is motivated by both practical and theoretical reasons. While research generally shows that Black Americans are economically disadvantaged compared to White Americans, the size of these disparities may vary across certain subpopulations of Black Americans. Practically, this variation is important because it helps identify groups that may be most in need. Theoretically, examining this variation is important because it may elucidate overlooked mechanisms that undergird racial disparities.

Another strand of Alexander's research agenda considers the consequences of horizontal stratification in postsecondary education. For example, with Olivia Y. Hu, Alexander is exploring the causal effects of educational attainment and prestige on romantic desirability and their implications for assortative mating. Another set of projects consider the differential returns to a college degree by institutional characteristics. The findings from these studies have significant implications for demographic inequalities as distinct groups of people are unequally distributed across types of institutions.

A third strand of Alexander's work focuses on the consequences of social mobility. This work builds on the resurgence of "mobility effects" research in sociology, which aims to identify the effects of social mobility status independent of class origin and class destination effects. In ongoing work with Jingying He, Xi Song, and Irma Elo, Alexander uses historical census records linked to individual death certificates to examine the effect of socioeconomic mobility on mortality in later life.

In addition to his substantive interests, Alexander maintains a strong interest in quantitative methodology, especially causal inference and demographic methods. Consequently, he has participated and completed trainings in experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies through the IES Pre-doctoral Program and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics' Associate Fellows Program. Furthermore, with Noelle Suntheimer and Claire Allen-Platt, Alexander co-organized the IES Predoc Journal Club, where IES fellows met monthly to discuss papers on quantitative methodology from across the social science disciplines. Within the Department of Sociology, he works with Xi Song to organize a working group on quantitative methodology.

Lastly, Alexander is an enthusiast of social science research and maintains a growing list of social science podcasts that may be used for teaching or sharing the wondrous contributions of social scientists.

Prior to Penn, Alexander was a CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has had experiences doing research on Black men's health; sleep inequality; health insurance and mortality; sexual consent on college campuses; and lived theology within the Civil Rights Movement. He received his BA in sociology from the University of Virginia.


Photo credit: Marcus T. Wright


Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2023

M.A. in Statistics and Data Science, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2023

M.A. in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2019

B.A. in Sociology, University of Virginia, 2017


Research Interests

Social stratification — Social mobility — Sociology of education — Racial and ethnic stratification

Social demography — Labor market inequality — Social Psychology

Selected Publications

Adames, A. (2023). The Cumulative Effects of Colorism: Race, Wealth, and Skin ToneSocial Forces, soad038.

  • Eastern Sociological Society, Candace Rogers Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper 2023
  • American Sociological Association, Section on Aging and the Life Course Graduate Student Paper Award 2023
CV (url)