Stefanie A. DeLuca

Stefanie A. DeLuca

James Coleman Professor of Sociology & Social Policy

Contact Information

Research Interests: Sociology of education, sociology of neighborhoods, life course studies

Education: PhD, Northwestern University

Before settling in Charm City for a position in sociology at Johns Hopkins, I spent all of my life in the Windy City. My undergraduate work was done at the University of Chicago (AB'97), where I studied psychology and sociology, and I completed my Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University in 2002.

I am interested in the way social context (e.g. family, school, neighborhood, peers) affects the outcomes of disadvantaged young people, primarily in adolescence and at the transition to adulthood. Using interdisciplinary frameworks and multiple methodologies to examine these issues, my current research focuses on the sociology of education, urban sociology, neighborhoods and social inequality in the life course. My research also involves the sociological consideration of education and housing policy. I am motivated by an interest in rigorous research designs for causal inference using both experimental and non-experimental data, as well as the use of qualitative work to understand causality and the effectiveness of social policies. My research has been made possible by generous support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Abell Foundation, Spencer Foundation, National Academy of Education, William T. Grant Foundation, Center for Research on Educational Opportunity at the University of Notre Dame, American Educational Research Association, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.

One major area of research has focused on the determinants of educational attainment, such as social class, high school courses, noncognitive skills and the timing of educational investments. In a project funded by the Department of Education, we examined the state of vocational education, in light of legislation passed in the 1990s intended to reform vocational training into “career and technical education”. In a recent Sociology of Education article, we move beyond traditional research on curricular tracking and show how a balance of academic and career preparation courses might reduce high school dropout. We suggest that the ‘new’ vocational education has potential to keep youth in school by engaging them with courses relevant for both work and college. In a recent Social Forces piece, we tested whether being a “day late” is worse than being “a dollar short” in terms of college enrollment. Even in an era of community college expansion, proprietary schools and evening programs, we found that it matters when you enroll in college; after accounting for socioeconomic, life course and institutional factors, youth who delay college significantly reduce their chances of attaining a bachelor’s degree, even within eight years. I have also been pursuing research that considers the role of noncognitive skills (e.g. motivation, self-discipline, risk taking), how patterns of noncognitive skills vary by levels of cognitive skills, and how different combinations of cognitive and noncognitive skills predict educational, occupational and delinquent pathways into adulthood.

An additional program of research examines transitions to work for young people who do not attend college, and more generally to question whether promoting college attendance for all is the best policy for students in America. A recent paper with Robert Bozick suggests heterogeneity in the motives of non-enrolled youth; these motives are partly driven by planful orientations toward work, economic resources and local labor market opportunities. Other papers in progress considers the transition to work and college for African American youth growing up in Baltimore. In a number of papers, I am considering the role of career education, trade schools and communities colleges in the employment and postsecondary pathways of these urban youth.

Understanding the role of housing, neighborhood and social context on youth and family outcomes. For the last fourteen years, I have studied the long-term effects of the Gautreaux residential mobility program in Chicago, which helped residents of public housing relocate to safer neighborhoods through housing vouchers. With colleagues, I assessed the impacts of changes in neighborhood quality on child and family outcomes such as welfare use, employment, special education, and subsequent mobility. Federal interest in the Gautreaux program led to the design and implementation of the Moving To Opportunity program in the 1990s, a randomized housing voucher experiment funded by HUD. In 2003-2004, I conducted interviews with mothers and teenagers from the Baltimore site of this MTO program, as well as teacher interviews and classroom observations for the younger children in those families. In 2010, my team (with Kathryn Edin and Susan Clampet-Lundquist) conducted fieldwork with 150 of the children of the Baltimore MTO site as they became young adults, and we are currently working on a book about their pathways into adulthood. In 2006, I was hired by the Maryland ACLU to give expert witness testimony in a housing desegregation case (Thompson v HUD) very similar to the Gautreaux case in Chicago. Eligible families receive vouchers to move to communities that are less than 10% poor, less than 30% African American and have less than 5% of households receiving subsidized housing. I am currently following the relocation of these public housing residents to more advantaged neighborhoods in the metro area, with attention to how these moves create educational opportunities for their children.

Based on my experience studying these mobility programs, I have become interested in not only the ‘effects’ of environmental change, but also how families select into and move between neighborhoods. In 2008, I won a William T. Grant Foundation Scholars award that has given me the opportunity to map out detailed patterns of youth residential mobility and how mobility relates to changes in family, school, and neighborhood context. I am examining how housing interventions affect the mobility of poor families, and how mobility affects adolescent educational attainment, delinquency and health, once family, school and neighborhood contexts are considered. I use national data, as well as data from the multi-city MTO experiment. Another major contribution of this work is the use of a panel study of youth in disadvantaged communities in Mobile, Alabama—a region of the country often overlooked by urban sociologists. The research design includes advanced statistical techniques to infer causality from observational data, and quasi-experimental analyses using exogenous events that affect mobility. Since 2009, I have also been carrying out fieldwork with 100 families in Mobile, following their residential relocations, neighborhood choice, family dynamics and how these families use moving as a strategy for youth well being.


2023-2025. Russell Sage Foundation. “How Do High-Achieving Low-Income Students Make Postsecondary Decisions? Identifying Mechanisms and Understanding Heterogeneity in the HAIL Financial Aid Intervention.” ($182,867). (PI with Elizabeth Burland)

2023-2024. Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Foundation/Opportunity Insights at Harvard University. “Social Capital and the Mechanisms that Produce Upward Mobility.” (PI, $203,412).

2020-2024. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Seattle Housing Authority Mobility from Poverty Pilot.” (PI, partnership with Seattle and King County Housing Authorities) ($543,361).

2021-2023. Smith Richardson Foundation. “How High-Achieving Low-Income Students Respond to Targeted Financial Aid.” (PI w Susan Dynarski) ($50,000).

2020-2021. University of Michigan, Poverty Solutions. “College Decision-Making and Financial Aid.” (Co-PI w Susan Dynarski) ($20,000).

2019-2021. Overdeck Family Foundation/Opportunity Insights at Harvard University. “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Understanding Experimental Outcomes through Family Experiences.” (PI, $345,280).

2019-2022. Russell Sage Foundation. “Rational Responses to Uncertainty: Understanding Disadvantaged Youths’ Post-Secondary Education Choices.” (Co-PI w Nicholas Papageorge) ($171,182).

2019-2020. William T. Grant Foundation. “Creating Moves to Opportunity for Families and Children: Using Mixed Methods to Understand Policy Mechanisms.” (PI) ($49,077).

2018-2019. Annie E. Casey Foundation/Poverty and Race Research Action Council. “Tempting the Opportunity Landlord: What Convinces Landlords to Accept Voucher Holders in Low-Poverty Areas?” (PI) ($20,000).

2016-2019. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Who Is Moving In? Repopulation, Reinvestment, and Pathways to Revitalization in East Baltimore and Greater Homewood (Co-PI w Kathryn Edin, Philip Garboden, Christine Jang) ($839,429)

2016-2019. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Mobility from Poverty: A Pilot Intervention in Seattle and King County.” (Co-PI w Raj Chetty, Lawrence Katz, Nathan Hendren, Peter Bergman, Christopher Palmer, Seattle Housing Authority, King County Housing Authority) ($3M, all costs for intervention only)

2015-2017. MacArthur Foundation. “How Parents House Kids and How Landlords Broker the Geography of Opportunity.” (Co-PI w Kathryn Edin) ($100,000)

2015-2018. Spencer Foundation. “Switching Schools and Navigating Neighborhoods: Can Housing Vouchers Improve Educational Achievement for Low Income Minority Youth?” (PI) ($292,000)

2015-2016. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Hearing Their Voices: Baltimore Youth’s Perceptions After Freddie Gray.” (Co-PI w Kathryn Edin) ($79,000)

2014-2016. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Divestment and Abandonment in Baltimore, MD.” (Co-PI w Kathryn Edin) ($99,000)

2014-2015. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Moving to Opportunity: Platform for Improving Health.” (Co-PI with C. Pollack and R. Thornton) ($76,000).

2013-2017. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Brokering the Geography of Opportunity: How Landlords Affect Access to Housing and Neighborhood Quality Among HUD Assisted Renters.” (Co-PI w Kathryn Edin) ($401,000).

2012-2017. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. “How Parents House Kids: Residential Decisions, Financial Tradeoffs and Parenting Among Low to Moderate Income Families with Young Children”. (Co-PI w Kathryn Edin) ($750,000)

  • 230.310 Becoming An Adult: Life Course Perspectives on School, Work and Family Transition
  • 230.313 Space, Place, Poverty & Race: Sociological Perspectives on Neighborhoods and Public Housing
  • 230.320 Education and Inequality: Individual Contextual, and Policy Perspectives
  • 230.601 Research Design (doctoral students)
  • 230.640 Field Methods for Studying Urban Poverty
  • 230.641 Urban Youth and Inequality
  • 360.357 Baltimore as an Urban Laboratory (Social Policy)


DeLuca, Stefanie, Susan Clampet-Lundquist and Kathryn Edin. 2016. Coming of Age in the Other America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Articles and Chapters

DeLuca, Stefanie. 2023. “Sample Selection Matters: Moving Toward Empirically Sound Qualitative Research.” Sociological Methods and Research 52:1073-1085.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Lawrence S. Katz and Sarah Oppenheimer. 2023. “‘When Someone Cares About You, It’s Priceless’: Reducing Administrative Burdens and Boosting Confidence in the Creating Moves to Opportunity Experiment.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 9(5): 179-211.

Pollack, Craig, Laken C. Roberts, Roger D. Peng, Pete Cimbolic, David Judy, Susan Whaley, Torie Grant, Ana Rule, Stefanie DeLuca, Meghan Davis, Rosalind J. Wright, Corinne Keet, Elizabeth Matsui. 2023. “The association of a housing mobility program with asthma symptoms and exacerbations.” Journal of the American Medical Association

Pollack, Craig, Debra G. Bozzi, Amanda L. Blackford, Stefanie DeLuca, Rachel Thornton, Bradley Herring. 2023. “Using the Moving to Opportunity Experiment to Investigate the Long-Term Impact of Neighborhoods on Healthcare Use by Specific Clinical Conditions & Type of Service.” Housing Policy Debate 33: 269-289.

DeLuca, Stefanie and Eva Rosen.* 2022. “Housing Insecurity Among the Poor Today.” Annual Review of Sociology 48: 343-71.

DeLuca, Stefanie and Christine Jang-Trettien. 2020. “‘Not Just a Lateral Move’: Residential Decisions and the Reproduction of Urban Inequality.” City and Community 19(3): 451-488.

Harvey, Hope, Kelley Fong, Kathryn Edin and Stefanie DeLuca. 2020. “Forever Homes and Temporary Stops: How Housing Search Perceptions Shape Residential Selection.” Social Forces 98: 1498-1523.

Pollack Craig, Blackford Amanda, Du Shawn, DeLuca Stefanie, Thornton Rachel, Herring Brad. 2019. “Association of receipt of a housing voucher with subsequent hospital utilization and spending.” Journal of the American Medical Association 322: 2215-2124.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Holly Wood and Peter Rosenblatt.* 2019. “Why Poor People Move (and Where They Go): Reactive Mobility and Residential Decisions.” City and Community 18:556-593.

DeLuca, Stefanie. 2019. “Residential Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Chicago.” Housing Policy Debate. 29: 213-216.

Garboden, Philip, Eva Rosen*, Stefanie DeLuca and Kathryn Edin. 2018. “Taking Stock: What Drives Landlord Participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.” Housing Policy Debate 28:979-1003.

Pollack, Craig E., Shawn Du, Amanda L Blackford, Rachel Thornton, Stefanie DeLuca, Bradley Herring. 2018. “What Are the Effects of Neighborhood Poverty on Healthcare Utilization? Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 33: S392-S392.

DeLuca, Stefanie and Peter Rosenblatt. 2017. “Walking Away From The Wire Housing Mobility and Neighborhood Opportunity in Baltimore.Housing Policy Debate 27: 519-546.

Boyd, Melody L. and Stefanie DeLuca. 2017. “Fieldwork with In-Depth Interviews: How to Get Strangers in the City to Tell You Their Stories.” In Michael J. Oakes and Jay Kaufman (Eds.), Methods In Social Epidemiology (Wiley/Jossey-Bass).

Holland, Megan and Stefanie DeLuca. 2016. “Why Wait Years to Become Something_Low Income African American Youth and the Costly Search for Careers in For-Profit ProgramsSociology of Education 89: 261-278.

Rosenblatt, Peter and Stefanie DeLuca. 2015. “What Happened in Sandtown-Winchester_Understanding the Impacts of a Comprehensive Community Initiative.” Urban Affairs Review 1-32.

Condliffe, Barbara, Melody Boyd and Stefanie DeLuca. 2015. “Stuck in School_How School Choice Policies Interact with Social Context to Shape Inner City Students.” Teachers College Record 117: 1-36.

Darrah, Jennifer and Stefanie DeLuca. 2014. “‘'Living Here Has Changed My Whole Perspective'_How Escaping Inner City Poverty Shapes Neighborhood and Housing Choice.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 33: 350-384.

Rhodes, Anna and Stefanie DeLuca. 2014. “Residential Mobility and School Choice Among Poor Families.” Chapter 5 in Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools, Annette Lareau and Kim Goyette, (Eds.), Pp. 137-166. Russell Sage Foundation: New York.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Philip Garboden and Peter Rosenblatt. 2013. “Segregating Shelter_How Housing Policies Shape the Residential Locations of Low Income Minority Families.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 647:268-299.

Rosenblatt, Peter and Stefanie DeLuca. 2012. “We Don't Live Outside, We Live in Here_Neighborhoods and Residential Mobility Decisions Among Low-Income Families.” City and Community 11:254-284.

Edin, Kathryn, Stefanie DeLuca and Ann Owens*. 2012. “Constrained Compliance_Solving the Puzzle of MTO's Lease-Up Rates and Why Mobility Matters.” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research 14: 163-178.

DeLuca, Stefanie. 2012. “What is the Role of Housing Policy? Considering Choice and Social Science Evidence.” Journal of Urban Affairs 34: 21-28.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Greg Duncan, Ruby Mendenhall and Micere Keels. Forthcoming, 2011. “The Notable and the Null: Using Mixed Methods to Understand the Diverse Impacts of Residential Mobility Programs.” in Maarten Van Ham (Ed.), Neighborhood Effects: New Perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.

Gasper, Joseph, Stefanie DeLuca and Angela Estacion. Forthcoming. “Switching High Schools_Reconsider Reconsidering the Relationship between School Mobility and Dropout.” American Educational Research Journal 49:487-519.

Bozick, Robert and Stefanie DeLuca. 2011. “Not Making the Transition to College: School, Work, and Opportunities in the Lives of American Youth.” Social Science Research 40: 1249-1262.

Deil-Amen, Regina and Stefanie DeLuca. 2010. "The Underserved Third: How Our Educational Structures Populate an Educational Underclass." Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk 15:27-50

DeLuca, Stefanie and Peter Rosenblatt. 2010. “Does Moving To Better Neighborhoods Lead to Better Schooling Opportunities? Parental School Choice in an Experimental Housing Voucher Program.” Teachers College Record 112(5):1441-1489.

Gasper, Joseph, Stefanie DeLuca and Angela Estacion. 2010. "Coming and Going: The Effects of Residential and School Mobility on Delinquency." Social Science Research 39:459-476.

DeLuca, Stefanie and Elizabeth Dayton. 2009. “Switching Social Contexts: The Effects of Housing Mobility and School Choice Programs on Youth Outcomes.”  Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 35.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Greg Duncan, Ruby Mendenhall and Micere Keels. 2010. “Gautreaux Mothers and Their Children: An Update.” Housing Policy Debate  20: 7-25

Plank, Stephen, Stefanie DeLuca and Angela Estacion. 2008. “High School Dropout and the Role of Career and Technical Education: A Survival Analysis of Surviving High School.” Sociology of Education, 81: 347-370.

Rosenbaum, James E. and Stefanie DeLuca. 2008. “Does Changing Neighborhoods Change Lives? The Chicago Gautreaux Housing Program.” In David Grusky (Ed.), Social Stratification: Race, Class and Gender in Sociological Perspective. Westview Press. Pp. 393-399.

DeLuca, Stefanie. 2007. “All Over the Map: Explaining Educational Outcomes in the Moving to Opportunity Program.” Education Next Fall Issue: 29-36.

DeLuca, Stefanie and Robert Bozick. 2005. "Better Late Than Never? Delayed Enrollment in the High School to College Transition." Social Forces 84: 528-550.

Rosenbaum, James E., Stefanie DeLuca and Tammy Tuck. 2005. "Crossing Borders and Adapting: How Low-Income Black Families Acquire New Capabilities in Suburban Neighborhoods."In Xavier de Souza Briggs (Ed.), Metro Dilemma: Race, Housing Choice and Opportunity in America. Brookings Institution. Pp 150-175

Mendenhall, Ruby, Stefanie DeLuca and Greg Duncan. 2006. “Neighborhood Resources and Economic Mobility: Results from the Gautreaux Program” Social Science Research 35:892-923.

Keels, Micere*, Greg J. Duncan, Stefanie DeLuca, Ruby Mendenhall*, and James E. Rosenbaum. 2005. “Fifteen Years Later: Can Residential Mobility Programs Provide a Permanent Escape from Neighborhood Crime and Poverty?” Demography 42 (1): 51-73.

DeLuca, Stefanie and James E. Rosenbaum. 2003. "Do Blacks Prefer Integrated Neighborhoods? Testing Survey Opinions with Quasi-Experimental Residential Mobility Data."Housing Policy Debate, 14: 305-346.

Rosenbaum, James E., Lisa Reynolds and Stefanie DeLuca. 2002. "How Do Places Matter? The Geography of Opportunity, Self-Efficacy, and a Look Inside the Black Box of Residential Mobility." Housing Studies, 17:71-82.

DeLuca, Stefanie and James E. Rosenbaum. 2001. "Individual Agency and the Life Course: Do Low SES Students Get Less Long-Term Pay-Off For Their School Efforts?"Sociological Focus , 34, 357-376.

Rosenbaum, James E. and Stefanie DeLuca. 2000. “Is Housing Mobility the Key to Welfare Reform? Lessons from Chicago’s Gautreaux Program.” Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy Survey Series.

Rosenbaum, James E., Stefanie DeLuca, Shazia R. Miller, and Kevin Roy. 1999. Pathways into Work: Short and Long Term Effects of Personal and Institutional Ties." Sociology of Education , 72, 179-196.

Working Papers

DeLuca, Stefanie and Jacqueline Groccia. Forthcoming. “Improving Residential Outcomes for Housing Choice Voucher Holders: The Importance of Supportive Staff for Families and Landlords.” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development & Research.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Jennifer Darrah-Okike* and Kiara Nerenberg. Forthcoming. “’I Just Had to Go With it Once I Got There:’ Income Differences in How Parents Find Housing and Schools.” City and Community.

Bergman, Peter, Raj Chetty, Stefanie DeLuca, Nathaniel Hendren, Lawrence F. Katz, and Christopher Palmer (alpha order). Forthcoming. “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Neighborhood Choice.” American Economic Review.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Nicholas Papageorge, and Joseph Boselovic. Forthcoming, 2024. “Exploring the Tradeoff between Surviving and Thriving: Heterogeneity in Adversity among Disadvantaged Black Youth.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences.

Bergman, Peter, Raj Chetty, Stefanie DeLuca, Nathaniel Hendren, Lawrence F. Katz, and Christopher Palmer. “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Neighborhood Choice Among Housing Voucher Recipients.” (Revise and resubmit at American Economic Review, also NBER Working Paper # w26164)

DeLuca, Stefanie, Kiara Nerenberg and Joseph Boselovic. “‘Getting Knocked Back’: How the Anticipation of Instability Shapes Post-Secondary Decision-Making.”

DeLuca, Stefanie, Jennifer Darrah* and Kiara Nerenberg. “I Can Fill in the Gaps”: Social Class Differences in How Parents Make School Choices.”

DeLuca, Stefanie, Andrew Gray and Nicholas Papageorge (alpha order). “Rational Responses to Uncertainty? Understanding Disadvantaged Youths' Post-Secondary Educational Choices.”

Young, Allison and Stefanie DeLuca. “I Don’t Want to Rush Everything and End Up Where I Started” Disadvantaged Youth, College Choice, and the Reverse Life Course.

DeLuca, Stefanie, Philip Garboden, and Anna Rhodes. “Expanding the Geography of Educational Opportunity: Can Housing Policy Improve the Achievement of Minority Youth?”

Garboden, Philip M.E. and Stefanie DeLuca. “I Came Straight Here”: How Poor Families Search For Housing.

Rhodes, Anna and Stefanie DeLuca. “Families without Borders: Understanding Child Mobility across Households.”

DeLuca, Stefanie, Anna Rhodes and Robert Bozick. “Mind the Gap (Year): College Delay, Time Use and Postsecondary Pathways.”

Condliffe, Barbara, Siri Warkentien and Stefanie DeLuca. “Shaken Up? When and Why Family Instability Can Be A Good Thing For Children."

Warkentien, Siri, Barbara Condliffe and Stefanie DeLuca. “Measuring Family Complexity in Low-Income African American Families.”