VanHeuvelen's research interests are broadly in the areas of inequality, stratification, quantitative methodology, political sociology, the sociology of development, and historical/comparative sociology.
Examines the multiple pathways that link the decline of labor unions in the United States and the rise of wage inequality. Finds that the decline of labor unions has had broad impacts, depressing wage trajectories and increasing economic volatility in worker careers.
Examines where, and when, public attitudes towards inequality change using a large sample of countries and years. Finds that economic growth tends to reduce public support for government action towards inequality, while publics tend to become more supportive following government redistribution.
Examines inequality occurring among seemingly similar individuals across local labor markets. Finds that changes in economic development change not only levels of inequality, but also basic distributional properties of inequality.