Megan Hatch, Ph.D.
Cleveland State University
Country: United States (Ohio)
My research is driven by a concern with social justice and questions of how state and local public policies are made and the impact they have on people. It focuses on the causes and consequences of public policies that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. Within the broad themes of causes and consequences, I examine two policy areas: state redistributive policies and state and local rental housing policies. In order to answer questions related to these topics, I typically employ interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks and econometric analysis. The overarching goals of my research are three-fold: (1) Develop an understanding of why governments adopt policies (i.e. policy causes) that positively and negatively impact vulnerable populations and what the consequences of these laws are; (2) Provide evidence-based recommendations for policymakers to improve outcomes for renters and people with low incomes; and (3) Apply my research to problems in my community to generate positive change.
My research on state redistributive policies focuses on the spending, tax, and labor market adjusting policies that change the distribution of resources among low-income/middle-income and wealthy individuals. The overarching theme of this component of my research agenda is to understand how these government policies and associated politics alter the distribution of resources and outcomes within the population. In particular, I am interested in the non-labor market consequences of labor-market interventions.
My research on rental housing policies explores the creation and consequences of landlord-tenant laws at the state and local level. At its core, this research examines the policy context within which almost a third of Americans, many of whom have low incomes or are people of color, must operate. American public policy has long favored homeownership. What is less explored, and where I situate my research, are policies aimed at renters and their relationship with landlords. Currently, I investigate four types of state and local rental housing policies: landlord-tenant laws, eviction, source of income discrimination, and criminal activity nuisance ordinances.
Research Methods & Research Design
State and Local Politics
Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics
Explanations For Inequality
State Economic Inequality
Social Welfare Policy
U.S. Social Policy
Rental Housing Policy
Countries of Interest
Public policies are not static; rather, they change with the context and as consequences become known. We ask how city councils learn about the negative consequences of laws by evaluating the policy diffusion and decision-theoretic learning hypotheses using a case study of criminal activity nuisance ordinance repeals in several cities within one county. These laws as originally written designated properties as “nuisances” if emergency services were called too frequently, including in cases of domestic violence. The seven case cities repealed their laws so survivors of domestic violence would not risk a fine or eviction because they called for help. We argue neither theory is sufficient to explain the repeal of these laws and instead suggest a new variant of policy learning, the entrepreneur catalyzed learning hypothesis, to highlight the importance of policy entrepreneurs in facilitating policy learning and the repeal of unsuccessful laws at the city level.
Scholars preach congruence between the three Cs (concepts, context, and content) of public administration in order to keep the field relevant. The current context of public administration is embodied by diversity of thought. One such type of diversity is descriptive and symbolic representation of women. This research examines the initial socialization of many public administrators to the field by performing a content analysis of the syllabi of highly ranked MPA programs and evaluating what percentage of assigned authors are female and how the curriculum addresses gender diversity. On average, women write less than 20% of required readings and only 5% of courses have specific units on gender diversity. This suggests the content and concepts taught in the MPA classroom do not match the context of the field. The article provides strategies for instructors desiring to increase the alignment of the three Cs in their curriculum.
There are many federal, state, and local laws governing the landlord–tenant relationship. Yet scholars know little about their variety and what impact differences among jurisdictions have on renters and rental housing markets. This article examines state-level landlord–tenant policy approaches to determine whether there is significant policy variation and whether states illustrate identifiable policy types. Using cluster and discriminant analysis, this research creates a typology of landlord–tenant policy approaches, finding three distinctive approaches: protectionist, probusiness, and contradictory. This research indicates there is significant variation among state landlord–tenant statutory policies, although states’ laws generally reflect one of three philosophies. These results are important for future studies on rental housing because treating all state rental environments the same masks important differences in rental experiences across states. As an illustration, this article finds that renters in protectionist and contradictory states move significantly more than renters in probusiness states do. Furthermore, understanding where renters have more or less legal protection allows policymakers and advocates to focus their efforts on areas where assistance is most needed.
The housing choice voucher program was designed with two main goals in mind: to eliminate concentrations of poverty and the social problems it causes and to provide poor households with greater access to higher-opportunity neighborhoods. However, research suggests that voucher holders would like to move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods, but often are unable to do so. One of the most prominent reasons for this is that, in most cities and states, local law allows landlords to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their “source of income” (SOI). This article reviews the literature on discrimination of voucher recipients and the potential for SOI antidiscrimination laws to mitigate some of these negative outcomes.
This paper examines the consequences of economic downturns for states’ redistributive politics. We track state policies from 1980 through 2010 and illustrate how economic downturns led states to adopt budget-balancing policies by suppressing both the increased spending on programs benefiting the poor otherwise expected under Democratic Party control and the tax cuts for the wealthy otherwise expected under Republican Party control. We also undertake a natural experiment case study—comparing the forty Democratic and Republican governors in office right before (2007–2008) and after (2009–2010) the onset of the Great Recession. We find that Republican governors were less likely to propose spending and increased calls for spending cuts; yet, no similar shift in tax proposals was evident with continued calls for tax cuts to the wealthy. Democratic governors exhibited a similar pattern, but were less responsive and more likely to maintain their earlier policy proposals even after a significant downturn in the national economy. Together, these findings highlight how economic and political conditions interact with one another to shape “who gets what, when, and how from government,” as well as clarify that we must ask and answer these questions separately for taxing and spending to capture the complex politics of redistribution.
Recognizing the health effects of nonhealth policies, scholars and others seeking to improve Americans’ health have advocated the implementation of a culture of health—which would call attention to and prioritize health as a key outcome of policy making across all levels of government and in the private sector. Adopting this “health-in-all-policies” lens, policy makers are paying increasing attention to health impacts as they debate policies in areas such as urban planning, housing, and transportation. Yet the health impacts of economic policies that shape the distribution of income and wealth are often overlooked. Pooling data from all fifty states for the period 1990–2010, we provide a broad portrait of how economic policies affect health. Overall, we found better health outcomes in states that enacted higher tax credits for the poor or higher minimum wage laws and in states without a right-to-work law that limits union power. Notably, these policies focus on increasing the incomes of low-income and working-class families, instead of on shaping the resources available to wealthier individuals. Incorporating these findings into a health-in-all-policies agenda will require leadership from the health sector, including a willingness to step into core and polarizing debates about redistribution.
Prior literature has emphasized demographic, economic, and political explanations for increasing income inequality in the United States, with little attention paid to the role of state-level policy. This is despite great variation across states in both the level of inequality and the rate at which it is rising. This paper asks whether differences in state policy choices can help explain this variation; specifically, we examined a range of state redistributive policies enacted between 1980 and 2005 and identified four common approaches likely to impact inequality: taxes on the wealthy, taxes on the poor, spending on the poor, and labor market policies. We used pooled cross-sectional time-series data and a fixed-effects model to assess the relationship between states’ use of each policy approach and two measures of market income inequality: the Gini coefficient and the income share of the top 1 percent. We find policies played a significant role in shaping income inequality in the states. For three of these four policy approaches, we found less inequality following expansions of state redistributive policy. Yet, for another, we identified the opposite pattern. These findings highlight the importance of state policy choices in shaping market inequality, and have implications for designing state policies to reduce income inequality since the success of these efforts depends on the policy approach used to redistribute income and wealth.
Criminal Activity Nuisance Ordinances (CANOs) are local laws found in thousands of cities throughout the country which penalize property owners if repeated incidents of criminal activity related to their property occur over a set period of time (typically, 12 months). Nearly 50 cities in Ohio have CANOs, including more than 20 in Northeast Ohio. Drawing on extensive public records from a sample of Northeast Ohio cities, this report offers a snapshot of CANOs and how they are being used. • CANOs disproportionately impact renters, people using housing vouchers, and people of color. • Race and class stereotypes surface in public discussions of CANOs, and are sometimes invoked to justify the establishment or enhancement of CANOs • CANOs are frequently applied beyond their scope to target minor, non-criminal behavior • Many cities across Ohio put survivors of domestic violence at heightened risk of eviction by defining domestic violence as a “nuisance activity”; in some cities, more than half of CANO letters are sent in response to domestic violence incidents • If emergency services are sent to a home in response to a call made to a suicide hotline, that property can be deemed a nuisance • Seeking medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose crisis is a common reason that properties are placed on a nuisance list • It is often difficult or even impossible for a property owner or tenant to challenge a mistaken nuisance designation While the findings presented in this report center on Northeast Ohio, residents in the thousands of other cities with CANOs across the country may be experiencing similar impact. We encourage policymakers, researchers, and community stakeholders to use this report to inform deeper conversations on the implications of CANOs, and to expand research on the use and consequences of these laws.
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