My research focuses on education, cultural scenes, and participation in civic life. I am interested in the role education plays in socioeconomic mobility in the context of a modern democracy. My research has also explored the role of local culture in economic development, political activity, and human interaction.

The Effects of Mandatory and Free College Admission Testing on College Enrollment and Completion

Link to full working paper

Mary Vansuch, 2017

Between the years 2001 and 2015, twenty-three states and the District of Columbia implemented a policy providing mandatory and free college admission exams (ACT or SAT) to all public high school juniors. As such, the policy reduced to zero out of pocket expenses for exam fees, and likely reduced out-of-pocket expenses for exam preparation, because schools might have been induced to provide such a service in-house ….read more.

Participation and Local Political Culture: Analysis in Recent Nationwide Trends in Volunteering

Link to full working paper

Mary Vansuch, 2017

Volunteer behavior and participation can be a proxy for social capital accumulation. Using the Census’ Current Population Survey, we test two basic questions:

1. Has social capital accumulation in the form of participating in volunteer organizations increased or decreased over time? What factors influence participation?

2. How does local political culture influence participation and volunteer behavior?

We find strong evidence of an Elazar-style breakdown of US political culture in the form of volunteer work…read more.

Arts and Bohemian Impact on Walking, Bicycle, and Transit Use in U.S Cities

Link to full working paper

Hyesun Jeong, Terry Clark, and Mary Vansuch, 2017

Past research rooted in Jane Jacobs’s idea of the vital community reveals that density and mixed-land use are main factors of walkability. Yet, the role of the cultural environment in shifting patterns of walking, bicycle, and public transit use has largely been missing. Therefore, this study posits cultural pattern of Bohemia, linked with artistic and creative cultural forces, as new factors of non-motorized commuting choices. Updating Bohemian culture from nineteenth century’s Paris revised by the 1970s’ counterculture and new social movements, this study redefines its concept in today’s global context and specifies alternative indicators including number of artists and hundreds of local amenities that indicate specific lifestyle dimensions. We test their impacts, together with other urban form variables on alternative commuting modes in the zip codes of U.S counties. Results show that Bohemia and the arts are strongly related to non-auto commuting choices, especially bicycle and public transit use.

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