Kristen Harknett

Associate Professor of Social Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
Adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

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About Kristen

Harknett's research is focused on how policies impact the lives of low-income families and how broader features of the social environment interact with policies to shape well-being. She has a strong foundation in policy and program evaluation, having been a lead researcher in assessing impacts of welfare-to-work programs in the U.S. and earnings subsidies in Canada in the 1990s, and is presently leading the impact analysis of a federally-funded responsible fatherhood intervention.  She is particularly interested in work scheduling practices in the retail sector and is co-leading a large survey collecting data on these practices and an evaluation of city law to regulate these practices in Seattle that is funded by the City of Seattle and the Department of Labor. She was previously an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Berkeley, and a Research Associate at MDRC.  


How Unpredictable Work Scheduling Hurts Retail Workers – And What Might Change

    Daniel Schneider ,

In the News

"For Job Quality, Time is More than Money," Kristen Harknett (with Daniel Schneider), The Hill, February 1, 2019.
Kristen Harknett's research on Sarah Holder, "Living Paycheck to Paycheck, and Hour to Hour," CityLab, June 11, 2018.
Kristen Harknett's research on Janet I. Tu, "Costco doesn’t support Seattle’s proposed scheduling law," Seattle Times, September 5, 2016.
Kristen Harknett's research on Elizabeth Stuart, "Guadalupe Mayor Pleads Guilty to Improperly Obtaining Food Stamps; Recall Initiated," Phoenix Ne Times, September 9, 2015.


"Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession" (with Daniel Schneider and Sara McLanahan). Demography 53, no. 2 (2017): 471-505.

Demonstrates that the uncertainty and anticipatory anxiety that go along with sudden macroeconomic downturns have negative effects on relationship quality, above and beyond the effects of job loss and material hardship.

"Do Family Support Environments Influence Fertility? Evidence from 20 European Countries" (with Francesco Billari and Carla Medalia). European Journal of Population 30, no. 1 (2014): 1-33.

Compares European countries and finds that supports for childrearing have little effect on first births, but have strong effects on second or higher order births. 

"Instability of Work and Care: How Work Schedules Shape Child-Care Arrangements for Parents Working in the Service Sector" (with Daniel Schneider, Dani Carillo, Allison Logan, and Sigrid Luhr). Social Science Review 91, no. 3 (2017).

Shows how unstable and unpredictable work schedules in retail lead to similar  instability in the childcare arrangements used by parents working in the retail sector.

"Income Volatility in the Service Sector: Contours, Causes, and Consequences" (with Daniel Schneider). Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (2017).

Draws on original survey data from retail workers to show how schedule instability and unpredictability precipitates income and earnings volatility and how that volatility leads to household economic insecurity.