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DPE Tuesday Talk Series: Javier Rodriguez, “Party Control of State Legislatures and Infant Mortality in the US, 1969-2010”

The Division of Politics & Economics invites the CGU community to attend this week’s Tuesday Lunch Talk featuring Javier Rodriguez, PhD of Claremont Graduate University. The title of his talk is “Party Control of State Legislatures and Infant Mortality in the US, 1969-2010.”

This research project focuses on developing an understanding of the possible mechanisms by which political actors and institutions affect inequalities in health. Results from previous research show that, relative to trend, national and race-specific infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rates decrease under Democratic presidential administrations and increase under Republican administrations (1965-2010). Yet, health policy is not uniquely prescribed and implemented at the federal level; state governments have independent legislative, administrative, and budgetary powers over health and social policy prescription and program implementation. Accordingly, the present research further investigates the national-level trends at the state level. To do this, we use a set of state-level data on overall and race-specific infant mortality rates, macro-social determinants of health, and the party composition of state governments during the post “political realignment” period (1969-2010). The methodological strategy is a combination of time series and multi-level modeling approaches. Results from this research show that there are critical differences in infant health indicators depending on the political party of the president and the party that controls state legislatures, and that these forces interact with each other. Findings from this research help to outline the foundations of an important yet overlooked research agenda: The connections between large historical health inequalities on the basis of race and socioeconomic standing and politics-specific variables.

Lunch will be provided.

Javier Rodriguez’s research incorporates theoretical and methodological principles from economics, demography, psychology, and public health to study the political causes and consequences of socioeconomic and racial disparities in health.

He investigates how political actors and institutions, such as presidents and political parties, influence health outcomes at the aggregate and individual levels, and how these health outcomes in turn determine political processes such as policy-making and electoral outcomes.

An important component of his research is the assessment of the political consequences of socioeconomic-driven premature mortality, and the disentangling of the underlying causal mechanisms through which the early disappearance of the poor masks the true detrimental effects of social stratification and political inequality.

Rodriguez received master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from UCLA, and a master’s in political science from Arizona State University in Tempe. He earned an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


More information about the DPE Tuesday Talk Series can be found here.