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The Applied Policy Research Lab (APRe-Lab) produces policy relevant research around pressing social problems. Lab projects draw on a variety of theoretical frameworks and employ research methods that emphasize causal inference and the use of administrative and survey data.

The Lab’s goals are twofold:

  1. Use interdisciplinary, evidence-based empirical methods to advance knowledge of the systemic causes and pervasive consequences of inequality.
  2. Contribute to debates about the effectiveness and implications of public policy in various domains.

The APRe-Lab is directed by faculty in the Department of Public Administration and the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice, and seeks to foster collaborations among applied policy researchers across UIC and the Chicagoland area.

Research Areas Heading link

While APRe-Lab research spans numerous areas, the bulk of the Lab’s work can be grouped into the following three interrelated areas of interest.

  • Social policy: Research in this area considers the impact of public policies and the social environment on the health, education, and wellbeing of residents. Projects carried out by APRe-Lab researchers consider the effectiveness of U.S. safety net policies (i.e., SNAP, Medicaid), answer questions related to diversity and cultural competency of social policies, and assess the effects of social disadvantage and social context on mental and physical health, education, and labor market outcomes.
  • Crime and criminal justice: APRe-Lab research in this area primarily focuses on the causes and consequences of crime and criminal justice contact. Projects consider the educational and health impact of neighborhood-level violence, the effectiveness of community policing on crime and crime reporting, changes in the quality and quantity of policing following publicized incidents of police violence, as well as the impact of mental health facility closures on police contact.
  • Immigration: This area of research considers how law, policy, and social context influence immigrant integration. Projects carried out by APRe-Lab researchers have examined the role of legal status on immigrant economic integration and assessed the impact of local awareness of immigration enforcement on crime reporting, as well as the effect of home country shocks on the outcomes of immigrants. Ongoing projects present local media as an important context of immigrant reception that may affect local involvement in immigration enforcement and immigrant outcomes.