Nick Graetz

Nick Graetz

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University

Eviction Lab

climate + community project

Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative

Biography

I’m a demographer/sociologist studying the political economy of housing and population health. My interdisciplinary quantitative research is organized around two central tenets of sociology: context and explanation. Contemporary contexts and outcomes are the function of cumulative, historical exposures. I use relational sociology to inform quantitative analyses of place, race, and class, focusing on the entangled, reciprocal systems of social and economic reproduction. My research is driven by a commitment to applying theory-driven quantitative methods to real-world problems in a way that is transparent, reproducible, and motivated by a need to address the fundamental causes of social and health inequity in the United States.

At Princeton’s Eviction Lab, I’m working on several projects related to the rental housing market, displacement, social programs, and health outcomes. Many of these projects are in close collaboration with the Census Bureau, where we are linking individual eviction records to restricted-use data on welfare enrollment, employment, and mortality. This work situates racialized housing inequality as a fundamental cause of population health disparities, focusing on profiteering, exploitation, and power relations between specific actors (e.g., landlords and tenants).

I’m also working on a set of simulation and data fusion methods for creating robust small-area estimates in the United States, combining ACS data with other national surveys such as the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. This includes funded collaborations with Data for Progress, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the EPA. I co-authored several policy briefs using this work for the Data for Progress Green New Deal platform, Senator Nikil Saval’s COVID-19 platform, and Congressman Jamaal Bowman’s Green New Deal for Schools platform.

My academic work in these areas is published or forthcoming in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Forces, Nature, Spatial Demography, Sociological Methodology, the Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, the New England Journal of Medicine, and elsewhere.

Download my CV.

Interests

  • Structural racism
  • Housing policy
  • Causal mediation analysis
  • Population health
  • Political economy
  • Stratification
  • Life-course modeling
  • Bayesian small area estimation
  • Data visualization

Education

  • Ph.D., Demography and Sociology, 2021

    University of Pennsylvania

  • M.A., Demography, 2018

    University of Pennsylvania

  • M.P.H., Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2016

    University of Washington

  • B.S., Psychology and Political Science, 2013

    University of Wisconsin-Madison

Select publications

Current projects and working papers

The impacts of rent burden and eviction on all-cause mortality in the United States

In Progress. We construct a novel longitudinal dataset linking all renters in the 2000 Census to 38 million eviction court records (2000-2016) and administrative death records from the Census Numident file (2000-2019). For the subsample of renters who also completed an American Community Survey between 2008-2012, we link data on rent burdens to measure within-individual changes since 2000. Conditional on geographic and renter-level covariates, a 50% rent burden in 2000 was associated with X% (X-X%) higher mortality from 2000-2019 compared to a 30% burden. Following renters over time, 10 and 20 percentage point increases in burden (2000 to 2008-2012) were associated with X% (X-X%) and X% (X-X%) higher mortality from 2008-2012 to 2019. Evictions were heavily concentrated among low-income Black renters from 2000-2016, especially women aged 30-50. Across all renters, the threat of eviction (a court filing without a judgement) was associated with a X% (X-X%) increase in mortality and an eviction judgement was associated with a X% (X-X%) increase. We examined heterogeneity in these associations by age, race, gender, and predicted risk of eviction. We discuss implications for health and housing policy during the COVID-19 pandemic while contextualizing these debates within the broader, durable ecology of housing insecurity and death that was entrenched long before the pandemic.

American Eco-Apartheid: Mapping racial disparities in longevity driven by political economy, state violence, and environmental exposure

Under Review. We still lack a unifying theoretical framework—complete with parsimonious empirical tools—to describe interconnected, spatialized, racialized inequalities in the US, a framework that synthesizes socioeconomic and environmental relations and emphasizes mechanisms amenable to policy change. Common quantitative indices tend to be atheoretical, lack explicit causal accounts, and cannot offer policy guidance. In this study, we propose the eco-apartheid framework and index to fill this gap. We develop our index in dialogue with two research traditions with complimentary strengths—American apartheid/redlining and environmental justice mapping. Our index is consistent with those frameworks’ historical, causal narratives, and clarifies the role of structural racism in contemporary U.S. inequalities. In keeping with a South African apartheid analogy, we place greater emphasis on state violence and labor market inequalities than many analogies to apartheid. By aggregating just 6 measures—covering political economy, state violence, and socio-environmental exposures—each amenable to direct policy action, the eco-apartheid index predicts life expectancy differences of over 5 years between census tracts at the top vs. bottom of the index, in the 20 largest US metropolitan areas. It predicts 2 to 3 times higher Covid mortality rates between top vs. bottom zip codes in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, in the period before vaccination. The index predicts neighborhood life expectancy better than maps of redlining and air toxin exposure. It performs as well as the Area Depravation and Social Vulnerability indices, with far fewer variables, stronger theory, and clearer policy implications. By demonstrating the empirical validity of the eco-apartheid theoretical framework, we hope to spark research and debate on the spatial intersections of racialized, environmental, and economic inequalities in the United States and around the world.

Historical mechanisms connecting home values over three generations to contemporary Black-white disparities in wealth

Under Review. The Black-white wealth gap in the United States has persisted and widened since the 1960s. Analyses have identified many mechanisms underlying wealth correlations across successive generations, but few studies have quantified the relative contributions of these interconnected and racialized systems of reproduction to the total gap we observe today. Using linked data from the PSID (N=2,977), I define a wealth gap in 2015-17 between three generations racialized as Black and three generations racialized as white since 1968-70. I use a fully interacted counterfactual mediation framework to decompose this disparity into the historical, racialized contributions from grandparent home value, parent educational attainment, parent home value, grandchild educational attainment, and grandchild home value. I demonstrate how these relations become structurally embedded in the distributions of subsequent home values and educational attainment over each generation, such that the contemporary wealth gap can be decomposed into a system of contemporary discrimination and compositional differences predicated on historical discrimination. Findings from this study contribute to our understanding of the dynamic, racialized process of multigenerational place-based wealth accumulation and support the importance of historically contingent social policy centered on reparative justice.

Public and policy writing

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A Green New Deal for Public Housing to Deliver Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice

A Green New Deal for Public Housing to Deliver Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice

COVID-19 in Philadelphia

COVID-19 in Philadelphia for Nikil Saval 2020.

Report: A Green New Deal for American Public Housing Communities

National report for DfP on GND for public housing with interactive maps.

Report: A Green New Deal for NYCHA Communities

Report for DfP on a Green New Deal for NYCHA communities.

Report: A Green New Deal for Suburban Transportation

National report for DfP on GND for suburban transportation.