Colleen Heflin

  • Colleen Heflin

  • Professor
  • Co-Director-Population, Education & Health Center and MU Research Data Center
  • 573-882-4398
  • Fax: 573-884-4872
  • Office
  • 241 Middlebush Hall
  • Columbia, MO 65211
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Research Interests

  • Social policy
  • Food and nutrition policy
  • Social demography


Dr. Heflin conducts policy-relevant research that sits at the boundaries of sociology, economics, public health, public administration, and women’s studies. The broad aim of her research is to understand the processes that create systems and patterns of social stratification and, more specifically, to examine welfare policy and the well-being of vulnerable populations, with a particular emphasis on the causes and consequences of material hardship. In a recent project, Dr. Heflin analyzed how specific shocks to family stability, such as unemployment or becoming disabled, lead to particular kinds of material hardship, such as medical or housing hardship. Other recent projects have examined how the population using food stamps and unemployment insurance has changed with the Great Recession; how the experience of material hardship affects couples’ decisions to marry; how children’s participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) affects their households’ overall food insecurity; and how veterans’ well-being and social program participation compares to that of other groups.

Dr. Heflin’s research has appeared in leading journals such as the American Sociological ReviewSocial Problems, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and the Journal of Policy Analysis & Management. In 2014, her paper on community social capital was awarded the W. Richard Scott Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the American Sociological Association. Dr. Heflin’s research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Heflin contributes regularly to national policy and legislative discussions: She participated in the 2013 National Academies Workshop on Research Gaps and Opportunities in Child Hunger and Food Insecurity and a Congressional Briefing on the War on Poverty in 2014.


  • PhD from University of Michigan

Selected Publications

  • How Accurate is Online Information about SNAP?
    Colleen M. Heflin, Peter R. Mueser, Jacob M. Cronin
  • The Role of Social Positioning in Observed Patterns of Material Hardship: New Evidence from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation
    Colleen Heflin

    Social Problems, 2017

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits and Emergency Room Visits for Hypoglycemia
    Colleen Heflin, Leslie Hodges and Peter Mueser

    Public Health Nutrition, 2016

  • Unpacking an Anomaly: Analyzing the 2005-2012 Current Population Survey to Understand Why Many Emergency Food Assistance Users Report Being Food Secure
    Colleen Heflin and Kate Olson

    Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 2016

  • More publications from: Colleen Heflin