Megan Elizabeth Hatch

Cleveland State University
Levin College of Urban Affairs

2121 Euclid Avenue, UR 316
Cleveland, OH

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My research is driven by a concern with social justice and an interest in questions of how social policies are made and the consequences they have for people. It focuses on the causes and consequences of policies that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations. My current research centers on two main types of equity-related policies: rental housing and state-level redistribution via taxes and spending. In order to answer questions related to these topics, I rely on interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks and, usually though not exclusively, econometric tools of analysis. The first branch of my research examines the political context and consequences of landlord-tenant laws. My ongoing research agenda on unsubsidized rental housing focuses on two interrelated questions. First, why do states adopt particular landlord-tenant laws? Second, how do landlord-tenant laws and their enforcement influence renter and housing market outcomes? With CSU colleagues, I am exploring issues surrounding source of income discrimination, which is when landlords refuse to rent to prospective renters because they receive government assistance, usually in the form of housing choice vouchers ("Section 8"). We ask how this discrimination shapes renters' housing decisions as well as the political context of anti-discrimination laws, particularly those adopted by cities. This team is also exploring the reasons for adoption and consequences of criminal activity nuisance laws in Cuyahoga County. The second branch of my research concerns state-level redistribution. Current projects explore how states change their redistributive policies when unemployment increases and the effect of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on health and income inequality. My research agenda on state-level redistribution will continue to examine the impact of redistributive tax and spending policies on social and economic inequality to provide evidence-based solutions for policymakers concerned with rising inequality.

Rigby, E. and Hatch, M.E., 2016. "Incorporating Economic Policy Into A ‘Health-In-All-Policies’ Agenda." Health Affairs, 35(11): 2044-2052.
Abstract: Recognizing the health effects of nonhealth policies, scholars and others seeking to improve Americans’ health have advocated the implementation of a culture of health—which would call attention to and prioritize health as a key outcome of policy making across all levels of government and in the private sector. Adopting this “health-in-all-policies” lens, policy makers are paying increasing attention to health impacts as they debate policies in areas such as urban planning, housing, and transportation. Yet the health impacts of economic policies that shape the distribution of income and wealth are often overlooked. Pooling data from all fifty states for the period 1990–2010, we provide a broad portrait of how economic policies affect health. Overall, we found better health outcomes in states that enacted higher tax credits for the poor or higher minimum wage laws and in states without a right-to-work law that limits union power. Notably, these policies focus on increasing the incomes of low-income and working-class families, instead of on shaping the resources available to wealthier individuals. Incorporating these findings into a health-in-all-policies agenda will require leadership from the health sector, including a willingness to step into core and polarizing debates about redistribution.
Rigby, Elizabeth, and Megan E. Hatch. 2017. "For Richer or Poorer: The Politics of Redistribution in Bad Economic Times." Political Research Quarterly 70 (3): 590-603.
Abstract: This paper examines the consequences of economic downturns for states’ redistributive politics. We track state policies from 1980 through 2010 and illustrate how economic downturns led states to adopt budget-balancing policies by suppressing both the increased spending on programs benefiting the poor otherwise expected under Democratic Party control and the tax cuts for the wealthy otherwise expected under Republican Party control. We also undertake a natural experiment case study—comparing the forty Democratic and Republican governors in office right before (2007–2008) and after (2009–2010) the onset of the Great Recession. We find that Republican governors were less likely to propose spending and increased calls for spending cuts; yet, no similar shift in tax proposals was evident with continued calls for tax cuts to the wealthy. Democratic governors exhibited a similar pattern, but were less responsive and more likely to maintain their earlier policy proposals even after a significant downturn in the national economy. Together, these findings highlight how economic and political conditions interact with one another to shape “who gets what, when, and how from government,” as well as clarify that we must ask and answer these questions separately for taxing and spending to capture the complex politics of redistribution.
Hatch, Megan E. Forthcoming. "Statutory Protections for Renters: Classification of State Landlord-Tenant Policy Approaches." Housing Policy Debate.
Abstract: There are many federal, state, and local laws governing the landlord–tenant relationship. Yet scholars know little about their variety and what impact differences among jurisdictions have on renters and rental housing markets. This article examines state-level landlord–tenant policy approaches to determine whether there is significant policy variation and whether states illustrate identifiable policy types. Using cluster and discriminant analysis, this research creates a typology of landlord–tenant policy approaches, finding three distinctive approaches: protectionist, probusiness, and contradictory. This research indicates there is significant variation among state landlord–tenant statutory policies, although states’ laws generally reflect one of three philosophies. These results are important for future studies on rental housing because treating all state rental environments the same masks important differences in rental experiences across states. As an illustration, this article finds that renters in protectionist and contradictory states move significantly more than renters in probusiness states do. Furthermore, understanding where renters have more or less legal protection allows policymakers and advocates to focus their efforts on areas where assistance is most needed.
Tighe, J.L, Megan Hatch, and Joseph Mead. Forthcoming. "Source of Income Discrimination and Fair Housing Policy." Journal of Planning Literature.
Abstract: The Housing Choice Voucher program was designed with two main goals in mind: to eliminate concentrations of poverty and the social problems it causes; and to provide poor households with greater access to higher-opportunity neighborhoods. However, research suggests that voucher holders would like to move to higher-opportunity neighborhoods, but often are unable to do so. One of the most prominent reasons for this is that, in most cities and states, local law allows landlords to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their “source of income.” This paper reviews the literature on discrimination of voucher recipients and the potential for SOI anti-discrimination laws to mitigate some of these negative outcomes.
Rigby, Elizabeth and Megan E. Hatch. 2015. “Inequality and American Politics.” In American Political Culture: An Encyclopedia, M. Shally-Jensen.
Hatch, Megan E. and Elizabeth Rigby. 2015. “Laboratories of (In)equality? Redistributive Policy and Income Inequality in the American States.” Policy Studies Journal, 43( 2):163-187.
Abstract: Prior literature has emphasized demographic, economic, and political explanations for increasing income inequality in the United States, with little attention paid to the role of state-level policy. This is despite great variation across states in both the level of inequality and the rate at which it is rising. This paper asks whether differences in state policy choices can help explain this variation; specifically, we examined a range of state redistributive policies enacted between 1980 and 2005 and identified four common approaches likely to impact inequality: taxes on the wealthy, taxes on the poor, spending on the poor, and labor market policies. We used pooled cross-sectional time-series data and a fixed-effects model to assess the relationship between states’ use of each policy approach and two measures of market income inequality: the Gini coefficient and the income share of the top 1 percent. We find policies played a significant role in shaping income inequality in the states. For three of these four policy approaches, we found less inequality following expansions of state redistributive policy. Yet, for another, we identified the opposite pattern. These findings highlight the importance of state policy choices in shaping market inequality, and have implications for designing state policies to reduce income inequality since the success of these efforts depends on the policy approach used to redistribute income and wealth.

Substantive Focus:
Social Policy PRIMARY
Urban Public Policy SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY