Dr. Regina S. Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Prior to joining UNC-CH in July 2023, she was an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
As a scholar and sociologist with training in both sociology and social work, Dr. Baker's research seeks to understand the factors that create, maintain, and shape socioeconomic conditions and disparities across people, places, and time. She is particularly interested in the role of institutional mechanisms in shaping individual outcomes and broader patterns of poverty and inequality. Accordingly, her primary research falls into three main areas: 1) poverty and socioeconomic inequality, especially among children and families, 2) the link between historical institutions and contemporary conditions (e.g., racial inequality), 3) the politics of power (e.g., via unions, policies) in the distribution of resources. Overall, her work intersects a number of areas including inequality, stratification, family, race, gender, political sociology, historical sociology, social demography, policy, and health.
Dr. Baker has published in several peer-reviewed outlets, such as the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Forces, and Social Problems, ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Population Research and Policy Review. She has presented her work to both national and international audiences, and her research has been funded by the American Sociological Association, Ford Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, National Science Foundation, and National Institute of Health.
Dr. Baker received her undergraduate training at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where she double-majored in Sociology and Mercer's Program in Leadership and Community Service with a Social Work concentration. She went on to obtain graduate training at the University of Georgia (UGA) School of Social Work, with a concentration in Community Empowerment and Program Development. While at UGA, she engaged in research and policy analysis for the Child and Family Policy Initiative at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. She also worked in the Office of the Mayor in Savannah where she completed a community assets assessment of high poverty neighborhoods. She continued her graduate training at Duke University in the Department of Sociology, where she received fellowships from the American Sociological Association, the Ford Foundation, and Duke's Center for Child and Family Policy. During her graduate studies, Dr. Baker also spent time as a Visiting Researcher at the Inequality and Social Policy Research Unit at the WZB Social Science Center in Berlin, Germany.
As a Southerner born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, with parents hailing from, low-country South Carolina, Dr. Baker views the American South as a salient and useful site for sociological inquiry. Accordingly, some of her work focuses on the South, which provides helpful context for examining pressing social problems, such as persistent poverty and racial inequality.
She credits her being from the South for her love of biscuits, seafood, pecans, and classic banana pudding. 😊