Isabel Garcia Valdivia

Job title: 
2021 David M. Howard Prize Recipient
David M. Howard Prize

Isabel García Valdivia is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley. She received her B.A. in Chicanx/Latinx Studies and Sociology from Pomona College. Her main research interests include immigration, Latinx sociology, family, race and ethnicity, and sociology of aging and life course.

Based on semi-structured interviews, her dissertation explores the effects of immigration status for elderly Mexican immigrants in the U.S. and return migrants to Mexico. In particular, how they come to understand their immigration status – especially undocumented adults – and its effects on their daily lives as they age including: work, retirement, health, the welfare state, social lives, and overall well-being. She investigates how these experiences differ by immigration status, gender, and across countries. Current research largely focuses on the experiences of young undocumented immigrants (“DREAMers”). Isabel’s work shines a spotlight on men and women at the other end of the age spectrum – immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades, and who are not eligible for Social Security benefits (even if they paid into the system) or Medicare. She asks, How will they navigate the poverty and declining health that often comes with aging? Her work has implications for public policy as well as academic theories of immigration integration and aging.

Isabel’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship, and multiple UC Berkeley centers and institutes (e.g., Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies, Center for Race & Gender, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, Institute of Governmental Studies, and the Health Initiative of the Americas). Her work has appeared in Social Problems and Educational Researcher.