Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Harknett's research is focused on how policies impact the lives of low-income families and how broader features of the social environment interact with policies to shape well-being. She has a strong foundation in policy and program evaluation, having been a lead researcher in assessing impacts of welfare-to-work programs in the U.S. and earnings subsidies in Canada in the 1990s, and is presently leading the impact analysis of a federally-funded responsible fatherhood intervention. She is particularly interested in work scheduling practices in the retail sector and is co-leading a large survey collecting data on these practices and an evaluation of city law to regulate these practices in Seattle that is funded by the City of Seattle and the Department of Labor. She was previously an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Berkeley, and a Research Associate at MDRC.
Demonstrates that the uncertainty and anticipatory anxiety that go along with sudden macroeconomic downturns have negative effects on relationship quality, above and beyond the effects of job loss and material hardship.
Compares European countries and finds that supports for childrearing have little effect on first births, but have strong effects on second or higher order births.
Shows how unstable and unpredictable work schedules in retail lead to similar instability in the childcare arrangements used by parents working in the retail sector.
Draws on original survey data from retail workers to show how schedule instability and unpredictability precipitates income and earnings volatility and how that volatility leads to household economic insecurity.