Bailey Alexandra Brown

Bailey Alexandra Brown


Kinder Panic: Parent Decision-Making, School Choice and Neighborhood Life

Dissertation Review Committee

Research Interests


Bailey Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow, and a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology with honors from the University of Pennsylvania. Bailey researches and teaches on topics related to class, inequality, and stratification, education and policy, and race and parenting.

Brown's dissertation research examines the intersections of urban poverty, education, and family well-being using qualitative methods. She draws on four years of ethnographic data at school district meetings, 102 parent interviews, and spatial analysis of matched geographic surveys to investigate the growth of school choice and the development of large scale open enrollment systems across urban areas.

Brown examines the emotional challenges parents experience when applying to elementary schools and coins the term Kinder Panic. She also analyzes how low-income parents frame their school decisions and how some low-income families face disadvantages in the school choice marketplace. Lastly, part three of her dissertation examines the impact of neighborhood contexts on school decision-making and childrearing. Brown argues that low-income parents organize their children’s daily routines in ways that limit interaction and reduce prospects for social mobility. She also finds that low-income parents have networks that are on average geographically restricted to smaller neighborhood areas, which reproduces rather than reduces social inequality.

The theoretical implications of this work are significant for understanding how the growing school choice landscape in urban areas shapes social inequality for parents raising young children. Together these chapters provide an analytical and policy-relevant lens for examining how shifts in school and neighborhood contexts shape parenting and the mobility prospects for low-income children.


  • M. Phil. Columbia University
  • M.A. Columbia University
  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania (Cum Laude)


  • Sociology of Education (Instructor)
  • Sociology Senior Seminar (TA)
  • Workshop on Wealth and Inequality (TA)