Lee

Hedwig Lee

Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis
Areas of Expertise:
  • Antipoverty Policy
  • Health Care Delivery
  • Health Care Reform
  • Criminal Justice
  • Race & Ethnicity

Connect with Hedwig

About Hedwig

Lee’s research and teaching focuses on the social determinants and consequences of population health and health disparities, with a particular focus on race/ethnicity, poverty and stress. Her recent work examines the impact of family member incarceration on the health and social well-being of family members (not incarcerated), the association between discrimination and mental and physical health, socioeconomic causes and consequences of obesity in childhood and adolescence, and using social media data (e.g., twitter) for demographic, health and sociological research.

Briefs

Measuring the Social Impact of Mass Imprisonment on America's Black and White Families and Communities

  • Tyler McCormick
  • Margaret T. Hicken
  • Christopher Wildeman

People with Family Members in Prison are Less Likely to be Engaged American Citizens

  • Megan Lee Comfort
  • Lauren Porter

Why Poverty Leads to Obesity and Life-Long Problems

Podcast

Publications

"Black-White Disparities in Hypertension: Reconsidering the Role of Chronic Stress" (with Margaret T. Hicken, Jeff Morenoff, James House, and David Williams). American Journal of Public Health 104, no. 1 (2013): 117-123.

Examines the notion of “vigilance” or the psychological burden of racism on health inequalities. Proposes that, in addition to the measureable risks that stem from structural racism (poor neighborhood quality, mass incarceration, high unemployment), there is a toxicity stemming from the stigma of non-White racial group membership that is driving health inequalities.

"Racial Inequalities in Connectedness to Imprisoned Individuals in the United States" (with Tyler McCormick and Christopher Wildeman). Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 12, no. 2 (2015): 269-282.

Argues that that with high rates of connectedness to prisoners and the vast racial inequality in them, it is likely that mass imprisonment has fundamentally reshaped inequality not only for the adult men for whom imprisonment has become common, but also for their friends and families.

"Life Course Perspectives on the Links between Poverty and Obesity during the Transition to Young Adulthood" (with Kathleen Mullan Harris and Penny Gordon-Larsen). Population Research and Policy Review 28, no. 4 (2009): 505-532.
Examines the association between poverty and obesity among adolescents as they transition to young adulthood in a national data set and finds an association between poverty/welfare receipt for females but not males.
"Trends in Body Mass Index in Adolescence and Young Adulthood in the United States: 1959–2002" (with Dohoon Lee, Guang Guo, and Kathleen Mullan Harris). Journal of Adolescent Health 49, no. 6 (2011): 601-608.
Uses multiple nationally representative data sets to examine trends in body mass index from adolescence through young adulthood by race/ethnicity and sex over a period of almost 50 years and finds increases in BMI over time, particularly for black females.
"Investigating the Relationship between Perceived Discrimination, Social Status, and Mental Health" (with Kristin Turney). Society and Mental Health 2, no. 1 (2012): 1-20.
Examines the relationship between experiences with discrimination and hostility, depression and loneliness. Important positive associations exist between discrimination and mental health with variation by race and gender.

In the News

Hedwig Lee quoted on racial inequality wrought in the U.S. prison boom in Peter Kelley, "Nearly Half of African-American Women Know Someone in Prison" UW Today, June 11, 2015.
Hedwig Lee quoted on racial inequalities in connectedness to imprisoned individuals in Timothy Williams, "Report Details Economic Hardships for Inmate Families" New York Times, September 15, 2015.
Hedwig Lee's research on Peter Kelley. Hedwig Lee, "Nearly Half of African-American Women Know Someone in Prison," UW Today, June 11, 2015.