Jennifer M. Nations

Managing Director, Homelessness Hub, University of California-San Diego

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About Jennifer

Nations' research focuses on the social processes behind policy design, as well as the effects of policy in local and state contexts. Topically, Nations' research includes how states finance higher education, the predictors of voter-approved tax increases for California's local governments, and local agency efforts to address and reduce homelessness. Nations also facilitates collaboration between San Diego advocates for unstably housed and homeless individuals and researchers in an effort to improve services and develop better policy to prevent and address homelessness.

In the News

Opinion: "Evaluation of Homelessness Programs Can Do Much More Than Save Money," Jennifer M. Nations, The San Diego Union-Tribune, April 29, 2024.
Opinion: "My Turn: Here's Where Gas Tax Repeal Would Hurt the Most," Jennifer M. Nations, CALMatters, September 20, 2018.


"Resisting the Market University: Political Challenges to the Locus of Authority in Public University Tuition Policy" Social Science History 42, no. 3 (2018): 575-600.

Discusses how public university boards determine tuition levels for college students in every state but New York and Florida. Argues that structural features of states and universities created beliefs about the types of policies that were appropriate in a given state, ultimately constraining politicians' decisions and leading them to reject the devolution of tuition authority to university boards.

"How Austerity Politics Led to Tuition Charges at the University of California and City University of New York" History of Education Quarterly 61, no. 3 (2021).

Tells the story of how decades-old no-tuition policies at the University of California and The City University of New York (CUNY) were reversed in the 1970s. Mentions how no-tuition policies became targets of neoconservative critiques of the proper role of government support for public services. Discusses how no-tuition policies became impossible to defend in the context of the stalled economy and growing conservative movement, whose members embraced government austerity.

"Racial Context and Political Support for California School Taxes" (with Isaac William Martin). Social Science Quarterly (2020).

Employs panel regression models to a data set of California school districts. Tells that school boards were least likely to propose new parcel taxes where there was a high percentage of Latinx students or a large gap between the percentage of white students and the percentage of white residents 65 and older. 

"Taxation and Citizen Voice in School District Parcel Tax Elections" (with Isaac W. Martin). Sociological Science (2018).

Shows that voters are more likely to approve local school taxes if the policy is written to require citizen-state consultation on how the funds are spent. Provides evidence that citizens may trade increased taxation for increased voice even within an established democracy.