Courtney Boen


Assistant Professor of Sociology


232 McNeil

Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2017

Inequalities in health are staggering in scope, persistent over time, and devastating in toll. My research combines critical and relational theories of race and racism, insights from the life course perspective, and a variety of social demographic techniques to: 1) provide detailed and accurate estimates of racialized, legal status, and socioeconomic inequities in health; and 2) interrogate and reveal the structural, institutional, and sociopolitical determinants of population health inequality.

My current research agenda can be divided into three key themes: 1) interrogating the role of the U.S. criminal legal system in generating, maintaining, and exacerbating population health inequities; 2) investigating how shifts in immigration policy, surveillance, and enforcement over time and across and within the U.S. have patterned racial-ethnic and legal status inequities in health; and 3) examining the roles of social and economic policies and exposures in shaping population health disparities across the life span. Within and across each of these themes, I use advanced quantitative methods and longitudinal data from a variety of sources to interrogate the links between macro-level systems of inequality, meso-level institutional policies and environments, and micro-level biological and psychological processes. Together, my work aims to improve understanding of the social and political factors generating population health inequality and offer insights into potential leverage points for promoting health justice and equity.

At the University of Pennsylvania, I am an Assistant Professor and Axilrod Faculty Fellow in the Department of Sociology and the Graduate Group in Demography; a Research Associate in the Penn Population Studies Center and Population Aging Research Center; a Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics; and an Affiliate in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration. My research has been published in a number of journals, including the Demography, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science and Medicine, The Journals of Gerontology, Biodemography and Social Biology, Journal of Marriage and Family, Demographic Research, the Journal of Aging and Health, and Health Affairs, among others.  My work has received funding support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and I have received several awards from the American Sociological Association for my research. I received a PhD in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MPH from Tufts University.


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