Regina S. Baker, Ph.D., M.S.W.


Assistant Professor of Sociology


218 McNeil Building

Dr. Baker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also a Research Associate at the Population Studies Center and a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Africana Studies, and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration. As a sociologist with training in both sociology and social work, Dr. Baker's research is fundamentally concerned with poverty and inequality and seeks to understand the factors that create, maintain, and shape socioeconomic conditions and disparities. She is particularly interested in the role of macro social structures and processes that help shape individual outcomes and thus contribute to broader patterns of inequality. Accordingly, her research focuses two broad areas: 1) poverty and poverty risks, particularly among children and families, and 2) the role of historical and social contexts in understanding inequalities across people and places. Her recent and ongoing work focuses on the following topics: a) the disparate impact of family structure, particularly across racial groups, b) historical structural racism & contemporary racial inequality, c)  power resources (e.g., unionization) & inequality, and d) a holistic approach to socioeconomic origin & its impact on intergenerational mobility. As a native Georgian, Dr. Baker takes great interest in the South, which she argues is a useful site for sociological inquiry, specifically the examination of social problems such as persistent poverty and racial inequality. Overall, her work intersects the areas of inequality & stratification, family, race, gender, historical sociology, and political sociology. She has published in prestigious outlets such as the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Forces, and Social Problems, among others. Her work has been supported by the American Sociological Association (ASA), the Ford Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation and Gates Foundation. Dr. Baker is also a former ASA Minority Fellow and Ford Dissertation Fellow.


Ph.D. Sociology, Duke University 2015
M.A. Sociology, Duke University, 2012
M.S.W. Social Work, University of Georgia, 2009
B.A. Sociology, Program in Leadership & Community Service, Mercer University, 2007

Courses Taught
  • Poverty and Inequality
  • The Rich and the Poor
  • Introduction to Sociological Research
Selected Publications

Baker, Regina S. 2022. The Historical Racial Regime and Racial Inequality in Poverty in the American South." American Journal of Sociology, 127(6).

Baker, Regina S. and Heather A. O’Connell. 2022. “Structural Racism, Family Structure, and Black-White Inequality in Poverty: The Differential Impact of the Legacy of Slavery among Single Mother and Married Parent Households." Journal of Marriage and Family.

Baker, Regina S., David Brady, Zachary Parolin, and Deadric Williams. 2021. The Enduring Significance of Ethno-Racial Inequality in Poverty in the U.S., 1993-2017. Population Research and Policy Review, 1-35.

Williams, Deadric T. and Regina S. Baker. 2021. "Family Structure, Risks, and Racial Stratification in Poverty." Social Problems. 68(4): 964–985. (Online First, July 2021).

Baker, Regina S. 2020. "Why is the American South Poorer?" Social Forces, 99(1):126-154. (Online First, December 2019) 

Baker, Regina S. and Linda Burton. 2018. “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Socio-economic (Im)mobility among Low-Income Mothers of Children with Disabilities.” In Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins, Advances in Gender Research, Volume 25, by Tiffany Taylor and Katrina Bloch (Eds.) Somerville, MA: Emerald. ​

​Baker, Regina S. 2015. “The Changing Association Among Marriage, Work, and Child Poverty in the United States 1974-2010.” Journal of Marriage and Family 77(5): 1166-1178. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12216. 

Burton, Linda M., Daniel T. Lichter, Regina S. Baker, and John Eason. 2013. “Inequalities, Family Processes, and Health in a ‘New’ Rural America.” American Behavioral Scientist 57(8): 1127-1150.

Brady, David, Regina S. Baker, and Ryan Finnigan. 2013. “When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the U.S.” American Sociological Review 78(5): 872-896.