Jamila Michener: People, Places, Power: Policy Concentration and Local Political Participation

Jamila Michener is an assistant professor in the department of government at Cornell. Her research focuses on poverty and racial inequality in American politics. More specifically, her work explores two overarching themes: the conditions under which economically and racially disadvantaged groups engage in the political process, and the role of the state in shaping the political and economic trajectories of marginalized communities. Centering on these concerns, her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Geographically concentrated disadvantage is a key mechanism through which inequities are proliferated. The spatial patterning of disadvantage renders it more than the sum of its individual parts and disproportionately harms economically and racially marginalized Americans. This lecture focuses specifically on place-based political disadvantages that emerge when Medicaid beneficiaries are highly concentrated in particular communities. Drawing on an aggregate longitudinal data set (2000—10), Michener analyzes the impact of Medicaid density on county level voter turnout, voter choice, and non-profit organizational strength. Employing several carefully specified regression models, she shows that as the proportion of county residents utilizing Medicaid increases, civic and political membership associations decline, as do aggregate rates of voting. These findings suggest that policymakers and grassroots organizations would do well to consider place-based strategies for addressing the demobilizing political effects of unevenly concentrated people-based policies.

Close overlay