Jason Beckfield is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. His research investigates the institutional causes and consequences of social inequality. Currently, he is working on three projects: (1) a book about economic inequality in the European Union; (2) a monograph and a series of journal articles that develop an institutional theory of stratification, with a substantive focus on population health; and (3) collaborative publications, many co-authored with PhD students, that investigate long-term trends in the development of political economy.
Beckfield’s first book, tentatively titled Unequal Europe: How Regional Integration Reshaped the Welfare State and Reversed the Egalitarian Turn, develops the argument that European integration has generated, diffused, and enforced new rules of the political-economic game. These new institutional arrangements have reconfigured European capitalism, and in turn have fundamentally altered the stratification structure of Western Europe. Unequal Europe is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
His other current, major project is a theoretical and empirical investigation of why societies have such different population health profiles. An extension of his earlier, award-winning work on income inequality and population health, this new line of inquiry documents and explains cross-national and over-time variability in social inequalities in health. With support from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Child and Human Development, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard Medical School, and with the collaboration of colleagues, Beckfield’s research on population health shows how institutional arrangements (welfare programs, educational expansion, labor markets, and citizenship rights) stratify health.
Beckfield’s earlier research, describing trends in structural inequality in the world polity, appeared in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, and Social Problems. His articles on European integration have appeared in various outlets, including the American Sociological Review. His first empirical sociological paper, written as a doctoral student at Indiana University-Bloomington, was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and later won the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award, given by the Medical Sociology section of the American Sociological Association. Beckfield’s other honors include his appointment as Senior Research Follow of Nuffield College (Oxford), his election to the Executive Committee of the Council for European Studies, the George Kahrl Award for excellence in undergraduate instruction in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, the American Sociological Association Dissertation Award, and the Indiana University Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award.
Beckfield was born in Missouri, raised in Joplin, and went to college at Truman State University, where he discovered sociology. Beckfield resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his partner, Jocelyn Viterna, and their two children.