Elizabeth Jacobs

Elizabeth Jacobs

Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Konrad-Zuse-Str. 1
18057 Rostock, Germany


Elizabeth Jacobs is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital and Computational Demography at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. She is also a research affiliate at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration, where she previously held a Postdoctoral Fellowship with joint appointments in the McCourt School of Public Policy, the Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of Sociology. 

She earned her Ph.D. from Penn Sociology in Spring 2021. Her research spans the areas of migration, race, gender, education and work and centers on the institutional reproduction of inequality in global contexts. In particular, she asks how institutions – state, corporate, and academic – shape the economic, social and spatial mobility of immigrants and refugees.

At Max Planck, she is working with a global dataset of migration histories constructed from LinkedIn to study how migration policy influences global patterns of labor market incorporation. This work expands her mixed-methods dissertation project engages long-standing questions about skilled migration and return migration using novel data sources. She constructed a new dataset of migration histories, using employment history data from LinkedIn to study the migration behavior of skilled migrants in the United States. Specifically, examined how these flows are shaped by gender ideologies, and how public and private institutions collaborate and conflict as they shape global migration. The LinkedIn data gives purchase on studying exciting new dynamics unmeasurable in previous data, which is enriched through in-depth interviews with skilled migrants and institutional actors at universities, companies and the state.

Liz's ongoing collaborations with Georgetown's Forced Migration team develop new computational methods to build digital data sources to forecast refugee displacement caused by natural disaster, economic collapse and war. This project is in partnership with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to improve official measures of refugee flows and develop timely policy responses to large-scale forced migration crises. 

Liz earned her M.A. in Sociology at Columbia University, where she examined the evolution of New York City's language access policy as a specific mechanism of immigrant incorporation. She graduated from Penn with a BA in Anthropology, and wrote an honors thesis on the tensions between development and displacement in Rio's favelas in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. Liz’s research has been published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Higher Education, Harvard Data Science Review, and Frontiers in Sociology.


Ph.D. in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 2021

M.A. in Sociology, Columbia University, 2015

B.A. in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 2013

Research Interests

Immigration; Globalization; Race and Ethnicity; Work; Labor Markets; Gender; Education; Stratification; Computational Methods; Qualitative Methods

Courses Taught

Center for Teaching and Learning Certificate obtained Fall 2019

  • Trained in pedagogical approaches; received teaching observation and feedback



“Introduction to Sociology.” Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Summer Session I 2020.

“Introduction to Sociology.” Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Summer Session II 2020.


Workshop Series Facilitator.

“Grandma’s Online: Populations on the Internet.” Max Planck Institute. Fall 2022.

“Racial Bias in Algorithms.” Massive Data Institute, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University. Spring 2022.

“Data-Driven Policy Design and Analysis.” Massive Data Institute, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University. Fall 2021.

“Demographic Inference in Big Data.” Massive Data Institute, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University. Spring 2021.


Teaching Assistant. 

“Epidemics, Natural Disasters, and Geopolitics: Managing Global Business and Financial Uncertainty,” Teaching Assistant for Dr. Mauro Guillén, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Spring 2020.

“International Political Economy,” Teaching Assistant for Drs. Mohamed El-Erian, Regina Abrami and Sudev Seth, The Lauder Institute, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Fall 2019.

“Global and Regional Analysis,” Teaching Assistant for Dr. Regina Abrami, The Lauder Institute, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Spring 2019.

“Globalization in Historical Perspective,” Teaching Assistant for Drs. Mauro Guillén and Brian Spooner, Departments of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania. Fall 2018.

“Media, Culture And Society In Contemporary China,” Teaching Assistant for Dr. Guobin Yang, Departments of Sociology and Communications, University of Pennsylvania. Spring 2018.

“Mental Illness,” Teaching Assistant for Dr. Jason Schnittker, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Fall 2017.

“Introduction to Sociology,” Teaching Assistant for Dr. Onoso Imoagene, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Spring 2017.

“Sociological Research Methods,” Teaching Assistant for Dr. Melissa Wilde, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Fall 2017.

“Sociology of Work and Gender,” Grading Assistant for Dr. Teresa Sharpe, Department of Sociology, Columbia University. Spring 2015.

Selected Publications


Jacobs, Elizabeth. 2022. “Work visas and return migration: How migration policy shapes global talent.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 48(7): 1647-1668. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1857232

Jacobs, Elizabeth. 2022. “The homogenizing and diversifying effects of migration policy in the internationalization of higher education.” Higher Education. 83: 339-355. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-020-00658-4

​Jacobs, Elizabeth and Nicole Kreisberg. 2022. “The gendered occupational value of a U.S. education for Indian immigrants." International Migration. https://doi.org/10.1111/imig.12970

​Donato, Katharine, Lisa Singh, Ali Arab, Elizabeth Jacobs and Douglas Post. 2022. “Migration, Misinformation and the Venezuelan Refugee Crisis.” Harvard Data Science Review. 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1162/99608f92.a4d9a7c7

​Donato, Katharine, Lisa Singh, Ali Arab, Elizabeth Jacobs and Douglas Post. 2021. “Migration Misinformation in Spanish-Language Tweets During a Pandemic.” International Organization for Migration Research Series. 68.

​Jacobs, Elizabeth. 2019. “Pathways to permanence: Legal status transitions as a key mechanism in skilled migrant selection and settlement,” in “Immigration in the Global Era: Migrants and the People and Laws at Origin and Destination,” ed. Guillermina Jasso and Moshe Semyonov. Frontiers in Sociology. 4(44). https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2019.00044


Revise and Resubmit

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “How Skilled Migrants Enter and Stay in the U.S. Labor Market.” R&R at Social Forces.


Book Reviews

Jacobs, Elizabeth. 2022. “Review of 'The Opportunity Trap: High-Skilled Workers, Indian Families, and the Failures of the Dependent Visa Program'.” Social Forces. DOI: soac127.


Under Review  

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Fainter Praise: In-group Gender and Racial Bias in Immigrant Employment Recommendations.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Legal Status Legacies: The Labor Market Incorporation of Return Migrants.”

Donato, Katharine and Elizabeth Jacobs. “Digital Data for Migration Studies.”

Wycoff, Nathan, Ali Arab, Katharine Donato, Lisa Singh, Elizabeth Jacobs, Kornarphop Kawintiranon, Yaguang Liu. “Forecasting Ukrainian Refugee Flows with Organic Data Sources.”

Agrawal, Ameeta, Lisa Singh, Elizabeth Jacobs, Gwyneth Dunlevy, Varun Uppala, Yaguang Liu. "Measuring the Quality of Translation Tools for Forced Migration Factors Across High- and Low-Resource Languages."

Maitland, Carleen, Nasim Motalebi, Elizabeth Jacobs and Lisa Singh. “Humanitarian-Development Coherence: Organizational Strategies for Long-Term Impact in Refugee Response.”


In Progress (Manuscripts available upon request)

Jacobs, Elizabeth and Katharine Donato. “The Gendered Career Trajectories of Skilled Migrants.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Migration Policy, Paid Work and the Household Division of Labor.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Algorithmic Bias, Fairness and Equity in Racial Outcomes.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Digital Borderlands: Nationalism and Internet Regulations.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Bodies and Brains: Embodied and Technical Skill in Migration Regimes.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Going for Gold: Race, Citizenship and Migration at the Olympics.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Claiming a Voice in the Global City: How Race, Place and Gender Shaped Immigrant Coalition Building in New York City’s Language Access Movement.”

Jacobs, Elizabeth. “Cold War: Ice Cream as a Tool of Socialist State Building.”

Imoagene, Onoso and Elizabeth Jacobs. “The Dark Side of a Golden Ticket: U.S. Migration Policies and the Experiences of Visa Lottery Winners from Nigeria, Ghana and India.”


Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Digital and Computational Demography Lab


Georgetown University

Research Affiliate, Institute for the Study of International Migration


United Nations High Commission on Refugees

Research Consultant