Monson and Mertens Published – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Monson and Mertens Published

Research on presidential election outcomes by Associate Professor of Sociology Renee Monson and Associate Professor of Economics Jo Beth Mertens appears in the current issue of The Sociological Quarterly. Their article “All in the Family: Red States Blue States and Postmodern Family Patterns 2000 and 2004” argues that state-level patterns of postmodern family formation are powerful predictors of the red state/blue state maps of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. A state’s rates of father absent families and small or delayed families were better predictors of the presidential election outcomes in those years than the health of a state’s economy or the composition of its population, according to Monson and Mertens.  

The article can be found online. [http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0038-0253]

Monson and Mertens began talking about this project in the spring and summer of 2005 in the wake of President Bush’s re-election. They presented some of their initial findings about the 2000 election at the Eastern Sociological Society annual meeting in Boston in 2006; after conducting further research they presented their findings on the 2000 and 2004 elections at the American Sociological Society annual meeting in San Francisco in 2009. Monson and Mertens currently are extending their research to examine the state-by-state results of the 2008 presidential election.

“I think what people find most surprising about our research is that it is counter-intuitive: it is red states (not blue states) that tend to have higher rates of absent father families (e.g., higher rates of teen births, higher rates of families headed by single mothers, etc.),” explains Monson. “We think this may be because of what sociologists refer to as an ecological fallacy; that is, although single mothers themselves tend to vote Democrat, voters in states with higher rates of single-mother families tend to vote Republican. In our current research, we are merging our state-level data with exit poll data to see if there is support for this hypothesis.”

In 2010, Monson received the HWS Faculty Prize for excellence in teaching. Monson previously has conducted research on how U.S. welfare reform and child support policies affect the social organization of paid work, unpaid work and sexuality.  

Having joined the faculty in 1998 after teaching at University of Wisconsin and Oberlin College, Monson has published in anthologies and peer reviewed journals, including Work, Welfare, and Politics in the Wake of Reform; Making Men Into Fathers: Men, Masculinities and the Social Politics of Fatherhood; and Gender & Society.

Monson received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, her M.A. from the University of Minnesota and her B.A. from Oberlin College.

Mertens was named New York Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2005. She regularly teaches courses in public finance and labor economics, and may be best known on campus for “Sports Economics,” a challenging upper-level course she created, which includes lessons on how free agency does not make sports leagues less competitive, and political positions on private funding for sports stadium projects. She was recently named Chi Phi Fraternity Faculty Advisor of the Year for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Mertens has served as consultant on tax policy to many countries, working for USAID, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. She has served the U.S. Treasury Department as senior tax adviser to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was the U.S. Treasury resident advisor to the Ministry of Finance in both Ukraine and Russia. She has published in peer review journals including Public Finance and Management and Public Budgeting and Finance. In April of 2011, she was invited to present a talk on teaching at The Christian A. Johnson “Excellence in Teaching” Conference at Hamilton College.

Mertens holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, a master’s degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.