Pilkauskas' research focuses on how social policy might improve the developmental and life trajectories of low-income children, and the living arrangements of low-income children, especially those who live with grandparents. Past and current projects also investigate the role of family/kin transfers in helping families make ends meet; links between maternal employment and school outcomes; the effectiveness of the Earned Income Tax Credit; and the effects of the Great Recession on low-income households.
Investigates whether the stability of maternal employment in early childhood (birth to age 5) is linked with child behavior and cognitive skills at ages 5 and 9. Links employment stability (continuous employment over all 5 years, low levels of job churning, longer job tenure) with less child externalizing behavior.
Examines the association between the Great Recession and real assets among families with young children. Investigates the association between the city unemployment rate and home and car ownership and how the relationship varies by family structure (married, cohabiting, and single parents) and by race/ethnicity (White, Black, and Hispanic mothers). Finds that the recession was associated with lower levels of home ownership for cohabiting families and for Hispanic families, as well as lower car ownership among single mothers and among Black mothers, whereas no change was observed among married families or White households.