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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of Sociology, UCLA


This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UCLA Department of Sociology researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollouts and the Reproduction of Urban Spatial Inequality: Disparities Within Large US Cities in March and April 2021 by Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Composition.


Rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines in the USA were opportunities to redress disparities that surfaced during the pandemic. Initial eligibility criteria, however, neglected geographic, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic considerations. Marginalized populations may have faced barriers to then-scarce vaccines, reinforcing disparities. Inequalities may have subsided as eligibility expanded. Using spatial modeling, we investigate how strongly local vaccination levels were associated with socioeconomic and racial/ethnic composition as authorities first extended vaccine eligibility to all adults. We harmonize administrative, demographic, and geospatial data across postal codes in eight large US cities over 3 weeks in Spring 2021. We find that, although vaccines were free regardless of health insurance coverage, local vaccination levels in March and April were negatively associated with poverty, enrollment in means-tested public health insurance (e.g., Medicaid), and the uninsured population. By April, vaccination levels in Black and Hispanic communities were only beginning to reach those of Asian and White communities in March. Increases in vaccination were smaller in socioeconomically disadvantaged Black and Hispanic communities than in more affluent, Asian, and White communities. Our findings suggest vaccine rollouts contributed to cumulative disadvantage. Populations that were left most vulnerable to COVID-19 benefited least from early expansions in vaccine availability in large US cities.

Cover page of Political affiliation and risk taking behaviors among adults with elevated chance of severe complications from COVID-19.

Political affiliation and risk taking behaviors among adults with elevated chance of severe complications from COVID-19.


This study determines whether COVID-related risk-taking behavior was different among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, in adults with elevated chance of severe complications from COVID-19. Using US national survey data collected September 30-October 27, 2020 (N = 6095), behaviors in the prior week examined were: 7 potentially risky activities, mask wearing anywhere, and mask wearing while undertaking each activity. Differences among political affiliations were estimated for adults with 0 and with ≥1 medical risk factors for severe complications, adjusting for sociodemographic factors. Among adults with medical risk factors, the adjusted number of potentially risky activities was higher among Republicans (3.83) but not Independents (3.17) relative to Democrats (2.98). The adjusted percentage of adults with medical risk factors who wore a mask anywhere in the past week was lower for Republicans (87%) and Independents (91%) than for Democrats (97%). While undertaking each specific activity, the adjusted percentage of at-risk adults never wearing a mask was higher for Republicans than Democrats: 24% vs 8% at bar/club; 6% vs 0% at grocery/pharmacy; 63% vs 30% visiting at friend's home; 68% vs 41% hosting visitors; 30% vs 5% at gathering of ≥10 people; 25% vs 11% while within 6 ft of someone they do not live with. Rates of mask wearing among political Independents were between rates among Democrats and Republicans. Efforts to reduce COVID-related risky behavior should recognize that although Republicans take more risks, rates of mask wearing at common activities are low across political affiliations, even for populations vulnerable to severe complications.

Having more virtual interaction partners during COVID-19 physical distancing measures may benefit mental health.


Social interactions play an extremely important role in maintaining health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated physical distancing measures, however, restricted the number of people one could physically interact with on a regular basis. A large percentage of social interactions moved online, resulting in reports of "Zoom fatigue," or exhaustion from virtual interactions. These reports focused on how online communication differs from in-person communication, but it is possible that when in-person interactions are restricted, virtual interactions may benefit mental health overall. In a survey conducted near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (N2020 = 230), we found that having a greater number of virtual interaction partners was associated with better mental health. This relationship was statistically mediated by decreased loneliness and increased perceptions of social support. We replicated these findings during the pandemic 1 year later (N2021 = 256) and found that these effects held even after controlling for the amount of time people spent interacting online. Convergent with previous literature on social interactions, these findings suggest that virtual interactions may benefit overall mental health, particularly during physical distancing and other circumstances where opportunities to interact in-person with different people are limited.Open Science Framework repository: .

Managing Patient Pressure to Prescribe Antibiotics in the Clinic.


Acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) are typically viral; however, in the USA, approximately one-third of adults and 52% of children with ARTIs receive an antibiotic, making antibiotic prescribing for ARTIs a major contributor to the problem of inappropriate prescribing. Relying on a synthesis of work across pediatric and adult primary care, this article shows some of the main ways that patients and parents pressure physicians for antibiotics, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and how physicians combat that pressure. All data are from video recordings of community-based clinical encounters allowing us to see what is happening "on the ground." Strategies that physicians actually use are documented; however, untutored physicians do not rely on these reliably or strategically, leaving substantial room for the deployment of a three-pronged communication strategy that can reduce patient pressure and inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.

A Note on "Sequential Neighborhood Effects" by Hicks et al. (2018).


We revisit a novel causal model published in Demography by Hicks et al. (2018), designed to assess whether exposure to neighborhood disadvantage over time affects children's reading and math skills. Here, we provide corrected and new results. Reconsideration of the model in the original article raised concerns about bias due to exposure-induced confounding (i.e., past exposures directly affecting future exposures) and true state dependence (i.e., past exposures affecting confounders of future exposures). Through simulation, we show that our originally proposed propensity function approach displays modest bias due to exposure-induced confounding but no bias from true state dependence. We suggest a correction based on residualized values and show that this new approach corrects for the observed bias. We contrast this revised method with other causal modeling approaches using simulation. Finally, we reproduce the substantive models from Hicks et al. (2018) using the new residuals-based adjustment procedure. With the correction, our findings are essentially identical to those reported originally. We end with some conclusions regarding approaches to causal modeling.

Cover page of Network hubs cease to be influential in the presence of low levels of advertising.

Network hubs cease to be influential in the presence of low levels of advertising.


Attempts to find central "influencers," "opinion leaders," "hubs," "optimal seeds," or other important people who can hasten or slow diffusion or social contagion has long been a major research question in network science. We demonstrate that opinion leadership occurs only under conventional but implausible scope conditions. We demonstrate that a highly central node is a more effective seed for diffusion than a random node if nodes can only learn via the network. However, actors are also subject to external influences such as mass media and advertising. We find that diffusion is noticeably faster when it begins with a high centrality node, but that this advantage only occurs in the region of parameter space where external influence is constrained to zero and collapses catastrophically even at minimal levels of external influence. Importantly, nearly all prior agent-based research on choosing a seed or seeds implicitly occurs in the network influence only region of parameter space. We demonstrate this effect using preferential attachment, small world, and several empirical networks. These networks vary in how large the baseline opinion leadership effect is, but in all of them it collapses with the introduction of external influence. This implies that, in marketing and public health, advertising broadly may be underrated as a strategy for promoting network-based diffusion.

Cover page of Race, Gender, and Parental College Savings: Assessing Economic and Academic Factors

Race, Gender, and Parental College Savings: Assessing Economic and Academic Factors


This article assesses the relationships between race, gender, and parental college savings. Some prior studies have investigated race differences in parental college savings, yet none have taken an intersectional approach, and most of these studies were conducted with cohorts of students who predate key demographic changes among U.S. college goers (e.g., the reversal of the gender gap in college completion). Drawing on theories of parental investment and data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), we show that both race and gender are associated with whether parents save for college, as well as how much they save. Both black boys and black girls experience savings disadvantages relative to their white peers. However, black girls experience particularly striking disparities: Black girls with the strongest academic credentials receive savings equivalent to black girls with the weakest academic credentials. Results suggest this is due, at least in part, to the fact that high-achieving black girls tend to come from families that are much less well-off than high achievers in other race-gender groups. As a result, parents of black girls frequently rely on funding sources other than their own earnings or savings to pay for their children’s college. These funding sources include private loans that may pose financial challenges for black girls and their families across generations, thus deepening inequalities along the lines of gender, race, and class. These findings demonstrate the power of taking an intersectional approach to the study of higher education in general and college funding in particular.

Cover page of Trajectories of physical functioning among older adults in the US by race, ethnicity and nativity: Examining the role of working conditions.

Trajectories of physical functioning among older adults in the US by race, ethnicity and nativity: Examining the role of working conditions.


Latinos in the US live significantly longer than non-Latino whites, but spend more years disabled. Differentials in socioeconomic status account for part, but not all, of the difference in older age disability between Latinos and whites. We hypothesize that a factor often ignored in the literature-the fact that Latinos, on average, have more physically strenuous jobs than non-Latino whites-contributes to the higher Latino risk of functional limitations at older ages. We use longitudinal data from the 1998-2014 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) comprising 17,297 respondents. Compared to US-born whites, Latinos, especially Latino immigrants, report substantially higher levels of physical effort at work. Latino-black differences are much smaller than Latino-white differences. As hypothesized, physical work effort is strongly related to functional limitations. However, differentials in physical work effort for Latinos and whites in their fifties and early sixties are weakly related to Latino-white differentials in FL at later ages.