Kristen Harknett, Ph.D.

Kristen Harknett, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology


Ph.D., Sociology and Demography, Princeton University, 2002
B.A., Sociology, University of Notre Dame, 1992

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

My research is motivated by the sociological contention that a person's social environment influences his or her most personal and important decisions, sometimes in ways that may not be apparent to the individuals involved. I demonstrate this idea by studying the role of context – city of residence, school, or labor market – in shaping romantic relationships. My research shows that male shortages and weak labor markets act as impediments to stable romantic relationships. One innovation in my research is to demonstrate that male shortages matter not only during the process of searching for a romantic partner, but they also influence the dynamics and trajectories of relationships that have already formed. In a second line of research, I investigate the importance of “private safety nets” comprised of supportive family members and friends. In this research, I examine how social support is unevenly distributed across individuals, and the consequences of lacking social support. Some of the topics I explore include the bi-directional relationship between fertility and social support, the correlation between personal and social network disadvantages, and the relationship between social support and psychological and material well-being.