Leslie McCall

Associate Director, Stone Center; Presidential Professor of Sociology and Political Science, CUNY Graduate School and University Center
Chapter Member: New York City SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Leslie

McCall studies trends in earnings and income inequality and public opinion about inequality, economic opportunity, and a wide range of social and economic issues and policies. Her research on inequality focuses on growing economic disparities among women and families as gender inequality at work and home continues to decline. Her research on public opinion examines changes in attitudes over the last several decades and includes an examination of media coverage of inequality from the 1980s to the present. She was formerly Professor of Sociology and Political Science and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University.


In the News

"This Is What Happens When Americans Are Told About Rising Inequality," Leslie McCall (with Jennifer Richeson), Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, September 14, 2017.
"Are the Rich Undeserving?," Leslie McCall, Interview with Ross Reynolds, KUOW's The Conversation, May 28, 2013.
"Pay Equity is Subject to Economic Trends," Leslie McCall, Room for Debate, New York Times, March 31, 2013.
"Americans Aren’t Naïve," Leslie McCall, Room for Debate, New York Times, March 21, 2011.


"Class Position and Political Opinion in Rich Democracies" 46 (2020): 419-441.

Reviews social science research on the views of different class segments vis-à-vis economic, political, and sociocultural issues, finding greater scholarly attention to the interdependence of economic, social, and political concerns and preferences than arguably was the case even a few years ago. 

"Economic Self-Reliance and Gender Inequality between U.S. Men and Women, 1970–2010" American Journal of Sociology 124, no. 5 (2019).

Introduces a measure that allows asymmetric changes and also incorporates multiple population subgroups and income sources beyond couples’ labor earnings. Uses Current Population Survey data, the authors find that women’s self-reliance increased dramatically, as expected, but men’s declined only slightly. Decomposes these trends into changes in family structure and redistribution, which increased and decreased self-reliance, respectively, for men and women, though more for women.

"Political and Policy Responses to Problems of Inequality and Opportunity: Past, Present, and Future" in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America, edited by Irwin Kirsch and henry Braun (Springer, 2016), 415-442.

Updates and summarizes data and findings in the Undeserving Rich book and describes a path of policy making that appeals to American concerns about inequality of both outcomes and opportunities.

"The Multidimensional Politics of Inequality: Taking Stock of Identity Politics in the U.S. Presidential Election of 2016" (with Ann Shola Orloff). The British Journal of Sociology 68, no. 1 (2017): S34-S56.

Places current debates about identity politics in historical context. Argues for a turn to a more robust definition of identity as multidimensional and politically mediated for understanding political alignments over the past several decades.

"Exposure to Rising Inequality Shapes Americans' Opportunity Beliefs and Policy Support" (with Derek Burk, Marie Laperrière, and Jennifer A. Richeson). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 36 (2017): 9593-9598.

Presents results of three experiments showing that exposure to information about rising economic inequality sparks skepticism about the existence of economic opportunity in society that, in turn, motivates support for equity-enhancing policies.

The Undeserving Rich: Beliefs about Inequality, Opportunity, and Redistribution in American Society (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Examines the relationship between views about inequality, opportunity, and social and economic policies over the past three decades.
"Income Inequality: New Trends and Research Directions" (with Christine Percheski). Annual Review of Sociology 36, no. 1 (2010): 329-47.
Reviews the roles that changes in the family, public policy, and corporations played in rising income inequality since the 1980s.
"Americans’ Policy Preferences in the Era of Rising Inequality" (with Lane Kenworthy). Perspectives on Politics 7, no. 3 (2009): 459-84.
Examines policy preferences among Americans as their concerns about income inequality grew in the 1990s.
"The Inequality Economy: How New Corporate Practices Redistribute Income to the Top," Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action, September 30, 2004.
Describes the impact of corporate restructuring on rising earnings inequality in the U.S. from the 1970s to the present.