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Kerri Raissian, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Hartford, CT, US

Kerri Raissian, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Public Policy | University of Connecticut


Public administration expert, focusing on child and family policy



Kerri M. Raissian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut. She was a Doris Duke Fellow for the Promotion of Child Well-Being and completed her doctoral degree in Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2013. Her research focuses on child and family policy with an emphasis on understanding how policies affect fertility, family formation, and family violence. Raissian’s research is interdisciplinary and draws on principles from program evaluation, economic demography, and applied microeconomics.

Raissian is the director of UConn’s Center for Advancing Research, Methods, and Scholarship (ARMS) in Gun Injury Prevention, the co-director of UConn’s Gun Violence Prevention – Research Interest Group (GVP-RIG), and the co-leader of the Connecticut Chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network. She has published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM), Child Maltreatment, Population Research and Policy Review, the European Journal of Ageing, among others. Her paper, “Hold Your Fire: Did the 1996 Federal Gun Control Act Expansion Reduce Domestic Homicides?” was awarded the 2016 Vernon Memorial Prize for the best paper in JPAM. She teaches financial management for public organizations, research methods, and social policy, and she has received teaching commendations for outstanding cumulative teaching evaluations from the University of Connecticut’s Provost’s Office on multiple occasions.

Prior to academia, she worked with abused adults and children in the government and nonprofit sectors. She currently engages agencies in Connecticut to continue this work.

Areas of Expertise (3)

The impact of early childhood investments on child well-being

Role of policy in family violence and contraception subsidies

How policy generates family complexity, data collection and decision making in the child protective system

Education (3)

Syracuse University: Ph.D., Public Administration 2013

Syracuse University: M.P.A., Public Administration 2008

Vanderbilt University: B.A., Sociology 2002






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Media Appearances (11)

NRA donations spike in counties that have experienced school shootings

Science  online


The finding, published today in Science Advances, echoes well-documented surges in gun purchases and donations to NRA, the leading U.S. gun rights lobbyist, after mass shootings. But the hyperlocal effect is new and revealing, researchers not involved in the study say. “Either there’s a fear … that someone is going to take your gun away … and/or a fear that you are somehow less safe and therefore need more guns,” says Kerri 
Raissian, who directs the Center for Advancing Research, Methods, and Scholarship in Gun Injury Prevention at the University of Connecticut. “It says that there is something about this event happening in your county, local to you, that makes this threat more real.”

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Here’s what to know about Connecticut’s gun laws, from background checks to backyard shooting

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


“Connecticut has some of the most robust and restrictive gun laws in the country,” said Kerri Raissian, a professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut who has extensively studied the impact of state and federal gun laws. Looking beyond mass shootings, Raissian said that Connecticut has also sought to prevent other types of gun violence through comprehensive safe-storage laws, restrictions on domestic abusers and funding for community anti-violence programs.

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How SCOTUS' decision on a law disarming domestic abusers could impact you

Yahoo News  online


Kerri Raissian, director of the University of Connecticut's Center for Advancing Research, Methods, and Scholarship in Gun Injury Prevention, spoke with Yahoo News about the potential implications of this Second Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Why does Alabama have more gun deaths than New York?

Alabama Reflector  online


According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun safety advocacy group, the rate of gun deaths in Alabama increased 47% from 2011 to 2020, going from about 16 deaths per 100,000 people to almost 25 deaths per 100,000. The rest of the country saw gun death rates go up 33%. The death rate for gun homicides in Alabama overtook the death rate for gun suicides for the first time ever in 2020 at about 11 deaths per 100,000 people. In other states, gun suicide death rates remain higher than homicide rates. “That makes Alabama a little bit different,” said Kerri Raissian, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut, who studies gun violence.

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Lamont ready to ‘challenge the system’ with new gun safety measures in CT, if reelected

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Kerri Raissian, the director of the University of Connecticut’s Gun Violence Prevention Research Interest Group, said that Connecticut has remained a leader in preventing gun violence — as evidenced by the state’s low number of per-capita deaths caused by firearms — even as some states have enacted their own restrictions and others have gone in the opposite direction by making it easier to purchase and carry weapons. “Connecticut has continued to get more restrictive, while other states have gotten more permissive,” Raissian said. “Connecticut is adopting laws that research indicates work to reduce gun injury and death.”

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What would it mean to treat guns the way we treat cars?

Vox  online


Contrast that with cars. When looking at the public health achievement of reducing motor vehicle deaths, safety improvements of cars and the introduction of driver-specific regulations paved the way, says Kerri Raissian, a professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut. “The federal government incentivized the uptake of certain safety actions (by tying interstate money to the legal age of driving, for example) and states enforce road rules,” she wrote to me in an email. “It’s an achievement in terms of the outcome and coordination it took to get us here.”

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The Last Pandemic Aid Anybody Wants to Need

New York Times  print


“I understand the need for FEMA to guard against fraud, which is what this death certificate criteria is meant to do,” said Ms. Raissian, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut, who has spent hours on the phone trying to retrieve her father’s medical files and speak to the doctor who certified his death. But the strict requirements and the chaos surrounding so many deaths pose a problem, she said: “This policy all but guarantees many people who are entitled to these benefits will not get them.”

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Breastfeeding and infant health link is not straight-forward

Science Daily  online


The researchers found that mothers who while pregnant said they intended to exclusively breastfeed, but then used formula once the baby was born, had children with health outcomes similar to exclusively breastfed infants. Only about half of mothers who intend to breastfeed are able to do so, and often their ability to breastfeed is beyond their control and not known until their baby is actually born. "This access to health care is an important policy focus. By sinking so much energy into getting moms to breastfeed, we miss something very important: that access to health care and the ability to take medical advice is critically important to a mother and her infant," said Raissian. "By exploring factors influencing better infant health outcomes, information from the study helps contextualize the tradeoffs that a lot of mothers have to make when deciding how to feed their children."

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Why America needs a population czar

Boston Globe  print


The country needs to start talking about the consequences new policies have on economic development and on existing programs, like Social Security.

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How raising the minimum wage by $1 could reduce cases of child neglect

Consumer Affairs  online


Kerri Raissian and a colleague examined nine years of child maltreatment reports from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. They found that 30 states had minimum wages that exceeded the federal minimum wage by at least $1 during the study period, and that those same states had substantially fewer child neglect cases. While Bullinger and Raissian say that race was a non-factor when it came to their study, the results suggest that a higher minimum wage had no impact on neglect cases for teenagers.

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Raising The Minimum Wage Has Benefits Way Beyond Creating More Wealth For Workers

Fast Company  

To researchers Lindsey Bullinger and Kerri Raissian, this debate fails to acknowledge the wider importance of minimum wages in raising social standards–for example, the effect in reducing or contributing to violence in the home. In a new paper, they look at the relationship between states that have passed minimum wage increases and 30 years of official figures for child maltreatment. They find that every $1 increase in minimum wages results in 9,700–or almost 10%–fewer cases annually. Minimum wage levels affect household ability to buy clothing, food, and medical care, the researchers argue, affecting whether a child is likely to be mistreated...

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Articles (10)

Causal Research: More, Not Less

Vital City


After completing my undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt, I was hired as a victim-witness coordinator in the district attorney’s office in Nashville. I worked with domestic violence victims whose cases were advancing through the courts, and I believed our work made victims safer by holding abusers accountable and by providing services to victims, abusers and families. I was honored and highly motivated to do this work. However, not all victims were so sure the court’s interventions would make them safer: Some felt more protected, but others would say, “It doesn’t matter what you do, if he wants to kill me, he will.” (About 80% of my clients were women.) I was at a professional crossroads: I could either keep working in the system and hoping my efforts were effective, or I could train to be a social scientist and build a research portfolio dedicated to exploring how policy and practice could reduce domestic violence victims’ risk of harm.

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What families need to know about how to safely store firearms at home

The Conversation

Kerri Raissian and Jennifer Necci Dineen


For the past few years, guns have been identified as the leading cause of death for children in the United States. There were 2,571 children age 1 to 17 who died in shootings in the U.S. in 2021, 68% more than the 1,531 that occurred in 2000. To help reduce the number of firearm-related deaths and injuries among children, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in January 2024 called upon school and district administrators to talk with parents and guardians about safe firearm storage practices.

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A Sandy Hook reflection: Gun violence is preventable — if we want

CT Mirror


It’s been 10 years since a gunman took 26 innocent lives at Sandy Hook Elementary — the lives of children and educators. And while this anniversary is difficult, it offers us an opportunity to reflect on gun violence policy in our state and nation. On Monday I was honored to moderate a panel “How Sandy Hook Changed the Legal Environment,” to discuss the legal changes that have been made since Sandy Hook and to consider changes to consider ways to further prevent gun injury in our state.

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Good Guys With Guns May Be Heroes—But They're Not Our Solution


Jennifer Necci Dineen and Kerri M. Raissian


This past weekend, America experienced yet another mass shooting at Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana. Fortunately, an armed citizen was able to stop the shooter with his own, legally possessed gun. But his heroic success is rare, and while we applaud his courage and skill, "good guys" with guns can only (maybe) end future shootings. What we really need is to prevent them. While it may ultimately be the case that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun," the truth is America's "good guys" have more guns than ever before, and sadly, they have not always stopped the shooter in time. The Texas House of Representatives preliminary report revealed that in Uvalde, Texas, 376 police waited to engage the active shooter for 77 minutes due to systemic failures and miscommunication. Such failures were also seen in Parkland, Fla. in 2018, when 17 students and staff were killed.

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It's time for COVID-19 disaster relief ... for mothers

The Hill

Kerri M. Raissian and Jennifer Necci Dineen


That next wave of COVID-19 is here and no place in the country seems safe from rapidly rising infection rates. While the effects of COVID will be felt in many social and economic sectors, the American family is about to be upended. As public schools from New York City to Denver to Los Angeles shift to remote learning, mothers are bracing for disaster. Without necessary disaster relief, this is going to get increasingly and needlessly ugly. We must recognize that parents — and mothers in particular — are struggling to meet their dual employment and childcare responsibilities. Though many parents are juggling, women provide the majority of childcare — even in dual earner households. Women are leaving the labor force at higher rates than men simply because they can’t do it all.

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Money matters: Does the minimum wage affect child maltreatment rates?

Children and Youth Services Review

2017 Research has consistently demonstrated that children living in low-income families, particularly those in poverty, are at a greater risk of child maltreatment; however, causal evidence for this relationship is sparse. We use child maltreatment reports from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System: Child File from 2004 to 2013 to investigate the relationship between changes in a state's minimum wage and changes in child maltreatment rates. We find that increases in the minimum wage lead to a decline in overall child maltreatment reports, particularly neglect reports. Specifically, a $1 increase in the minimum wage implies a statistically significant 9.6% decline in neglect reports. This decline is concentrated among young children (ages 0–5) and school-aged children (ages 6–12); the effect diminishes among adolescents and is not significant. We do not find that the effect of increases in the minimum wage varies based on the child's race. These findings are robust to a number of specifications. Our results suggest that policies that increase incomes of the working poor can improve children's welfare, especially younger children, quite substantially.

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Hold Your Fire: Did the 1996 Federal Gun Control Act Expansion Reduce Domestic Homicides?

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

2016 In 1996, Congress expanded the federal Gun Control Act (GCA) to prohibit defendants convicted of a qualifying domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing or purchasing a firearm. Using the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports along with homicide data collected from selected state law enforcement agencies, I investigate if this expansion was successful in reducing homicides among the target groups. I use variation from a legal loophole and a series of circuit court decisions to generate difference-in-differences estimates. I find evidence that the GCA expansion led to 17 percent fewer gun-related homicides among female intimate partner victims and 31 percent fewer gun homicides among male domestic child victims. The law also has protective benefits for those that were not targeted by the legislation. “Other” family members (parents and siblings) also experience a 24 percent reduction in gun homicides. I find no evidence that reductions in gun homicides were offset by an increase in nongun homicides. While most falsification and robustness tests support the above conclusions, some tests suggest caution when interpreting the results and a need for further research.

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Parental disability, parent care, and offspring mental health outcomes

Population Research and Policy Review

2016 Decades of research supports a widely held view that providing parent care is stressful, and that these stresses are associated with adverse mental health outcomes. However, some recent studies suggest an additional possibility, namely that “noncaregiver stress”—a consequence of having a parent with major care needs, but not being an active caregiver—may be a serious problem as well. This finding emerges in data which permit separate controls for parental needs for care and offspring provision of parent care. We extend these results using Generations and Gender Programme data from five countries—Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Romania, and Russia—for which the necessary variables can be comparably measured. Our outcome variable is a depression score based on a 7-item scale. In country-specific regressions, we find two instances of statistically significant associations of depression with the regular provision of personal care to a parent with care needs, i.e., the usual “caregiver stress” result. However, we also find two instances of statistically significant differences in respondents’ depressive symptoms that are associated with having a parent with care needs, i.e., instances of “noncaregiver stress.” We find limited evidence of gender-specific responses to both forms of stress. Our evidence supports both the typical caregiver stress response and the less-studied noncaregiver stress response, which suggests the need for additional research.

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Does unemployment affect child abuse rates? Evidence from New York State

Child Abuse & Neglect

2015 This article used child maltreatment reports from New York State from 2000 to 2010 to investigate the relationship between county level unemployment and county level child maltreatment rates. Models showed that a 1 percentage point increase in unemployment rates reduced the child report rate by approximately 4.25%. Report rates for young children (children under the age of 6) and older children (children ages 6 and over) responded similarly to changes in local unemployment, but the relationship between unemployment rates and child maltreatment reports did vary by a county's metropolitan designation. The negative relationship between unemployment and child maltreatment reports was largely contained to metropolitan counties. The relationship between unemployment and child maltreatment reports in non-metropolitan counties was often positive but not statistically significant. These findings were robust to a number of specifications. In alternate models, the county's mandated reporter employment rate was added as a control; the inclusion of this variable did not alter the results.

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Mandating prescription contraception coverage: effects on contraception consumption and preventive health services

Population Research and Policy Review

2015 While recent national discussions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made the introduction of mandated contraceptive coverage within health insurance policies seem like a novel idea, it is not new at all. Since the late 1990s, 29 states have mandated that insurance providers include prescription contraceptive supplies and, in some instances, associated contraceptive services in their coverage. We use state-level policy variation to generate both difference-in-differences and triple difference estimates to determine if women in states with state-level contraception supply or contraception supply and services insurance mandates experienced changes in their utilization of contraception and preventive health care services. We find a positive relationship between these policies and prescription contraception use for those with low educational attainment, but the results are not robust to a variety of specifications. Our results also show an increase in the consumption of preventive health services for women with low educational attainment as a result of these health insurance mandates. We conclude by discussing the implications for the ACA.

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