Catherine Sirois

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs
Areas of Expertise Bureaucracy, Children & Families, Criminal Justice, Health & Welfare, Inequality & Poverty
Areas of Interest Poverty and inequality; punishment and society; health disparities; race, class, and gender; qualitative and mixed methods


Catherine Sirois completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at Stanford University in June 2023. Her research lies at the intersection of scholarship on poverty, inequality, and punishment. She studies how the state governs marginalized groups—particularly low-income Black and Brown families—and how the dimensions of state governance, from everyday institutional interactions to population-level policies, intersect to shape the life chances of group members. Her current project uses ethnographic methods to study the governance of crossover youth—children at the junction of child welfare and juvenile justice institutions—and broaden our understanding of how marginalized groups are governed when they defy institutional boundaries. Catherine received her B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University (2010) and her M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University (2017).


Catherine’s research examines how the processes of state governance—from population-level policies to everyday institutional interactions—intersect to shape the life chances of marginalized groups, particularly low-income Black and Brown families. Empirically, she has sought to answer this question by studying the effects of state policy, from mass incarceration to restrictive immigration laws, on women’s and infant health; how the state governs children at the junction of child welfare and juvenile justice institutions; and how the process of leaving prison influences social integration and mental health. In these projects, Catherine has deployed a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, including ethnographic observation, in-depth interviews, and analyses of survey and administrative data that leverage causal inference techniques. Taken together, her research contributes to the fields of health disparities; poverty and inequality; punishment and society; race, class, and gender; and methods for studying hard-to-reach populations.


Sirois, Catherine. “Contested by the State: Institutional Offloading in the Case of Crossover Youth.” American Sociological Review 88(2): 350-377.

Sirois, Catherine. “The Strain of Sons’ Incarceration on Mothers’ Health.” Social Science & Medicine 264:113264.

Sirois, Catherine. “Household Support and Social Integration in the Year After Prison.” Sociological Forum 34(4): 838-860.

Torche, Florencia and Catherine Sirois. “Restrictive Immigration Law and Birth Outcomes of Immigrant Women.” American Journal of Epidemiology 188(1): 24-33.

Western, Bruce and Catherine Sirois. “Racial Inequality in Employment and Earnings After Incarceration.” Social Forces 97(4): 1517-1542.

Western, Bruce, Anthony Braga, David Hureau, and Catherine Sirois. “Study Retention as Bias Reduction in a Hard-to-Reach Population.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(20): 5477-5485.

Western, Bruce, Anthony Braga, Jaclyn Davis, and Catherine Sirois. “Stress and Hardship After Prison.” American Journal of Sociology 120(5): 1512-1547.

Recent News