Colleen Heflin

Professor, Public Administration and International Affairs


Colleen Heflin is a Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, and a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Policy Research. Dr. Heflin conducts policy-relevant research that sits at the boundaries of sociology, economics, public health, public administration, and women’s studies. The broad aim of her research is to understand the processes that create systems and patterns of social stratification and, more specifically, to examine welfare policy and the well-being of vulnerable populations, with a particular emphasis on the causes and consequences of material hardship. In a recent project, Dr. Heflin analyzed how specific shocks to family stability, such as unemployment or becoming disabled, lead to particular kinds of material hardship, such as medical or housing hardship. Other recent projects have examined how the population using food stamps and unemployment insurance has changed with the Great Recession; how the experience of material hardship affects couples’ decisions to marry; how children’s participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) affects their households’ overall food insecurity; and how veterans’ well-being and social program participation compares to that of other groups.

Dr. Heflin’s research has appeared in leading journals such as the American Sociological ReviewSocial Problems, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and the Journal of Policy Analysis & Management. In 2014, her paper on community social capital was awarded the W. Richard Scott Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the American Sociological Association. Dr. Heflin’s research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Selected Publications

Ying Huang, Stephanie Potochnick, and Colleen Heflin. "Household Food Insecurity and Early Childhood Health and Cognitive Development among Children of Immigrants." Forthcoming in Journal of Family Issues.

Heflin, Colleen. 2017. "The Role of Social Positioning in Observed Patterns of Material Hardship: New Evidence from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation." Social Problems spw041. doi: 10.1093/socpro/spw041.

Heflin, Colleen, Leslie Hodges and Peter Mueser. 2016. "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits and Emergency Room Visits for Hypoglycemia." Public Health Nutrition, 1-8. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016003153.

Irma Arteaga, Colleen Heflin and Sara Gable. 2016. "The Impact of Aging out of WIC on Food Security in Households with Children." Children and Youth Services Review, 69, 82-96. doi: 0.1016/j.childyouth.2016.07.015.

 Heflin, Colleen. 2016. "Family Instability and Material Hardship: Results from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation." Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 37(3), 359-372. doi: 10.1007/s10834-016-9503-6.

More Publications

Research Grants and Awards

Principal Investigator. "Understanding SNAP and Food Security Among Low-Income Households.” University of Kentucky and United States Department of Agriculture. 8/31/2017- 8/31/2018.

Principal Investigator. "SNAP and Child Health: Evidence from Missouri Administrative Data." Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. 8/25/2016–8/1/2018, with Peter Mueser and Irma Arteaga, Co-Investigators.

Co-Principal Investigator. "Understanding SNAP and Food Security among Low-Income Households." University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research; Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. 4/30/2015–6/30/2018, with James P. Ziliak, Co-Principal Investigator.  

Principal Investigator. "Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability and Material Hardship: The Role for Public Policy after the Great Recession." US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. 9/30/2013–9/29/2018.

Principal Investigator. "Community Eligibility and Child Well-Being." Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Center for Targeted Studies at the Southern Rural Development Center, Mississippi State University. 8/1/2015–12/31/2016, with Daniel P. Miller, Co-Principal Investigator.