Michael Light

Position title: Director of Graduate Studies, Professor of Sociology and Chican@/Latin@ Studies

Email: mlight@ssc.wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 262-1217

7101 Sewell Social Science

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Research Interest Statement:

Light’s work focuses on the legal and criminological consequences of international migration, the relationship between racial/ethnic stratification and crime, and the health consequences of major social and demographic shifts. Current projects in these areas examine the punishment of non-U.S. citizens before and after 9/11 as well as the relationship between undocumented immigration and violent crime.


Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, 2013

Departmental Areas of Interest:

Race and Ethnic Studies, Law and Society, Social Stratification, Demography and Ecology, Deviance, Law, and Social Control


Soc 440 Ethnicity Race and Justice
Soc 443 Immigration Crime and Enforcement
Soc875 Special Topics: Professional Writing for Sociologists

Other Campus Affiliations:

Center for Demography and Ecology
Center for German and European Studies
Center for Law, Society & Justice
Chican@ and Latin@ Studies

Selected Publications:

Light, Michael T. 2021. “The Declining Significance of Race in Criminal Sentencing: Evidence from U.S. Federal Courts.” Social Forces.

Light, Michael T. and Hilde Wermink. 2021. “The Criminal Case Processing of Foreign Nationals in the Netherlands.” European Sociological Review 37(1): 104-120.

Light, Michael T., Jingying He and Jason Robey. 2020. “Comparing crime rates between undocumented immigrants, lawful immigrants, and native-born U.S. citizens in Texas.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Light, Michael T., Ellen Dinsmore, and Michael Massoglia. 2019. “How do Criminal Courts Respond in Times of Crisis? Evidence from 9/11.” American Journal of Sociology. 125: 485-533.

Light, Michael T. and Julia Thomas.  2019. “Segregation and Violence Reconsidered: Do Whites Benefit from Residential Segregation?”American Sociological Review 125: 1-36.

Light, Michael T. and Ty Miller. 2018. “Does Undocumented Immigration Increase Violent Crime?” Criminology 56: 370-401.

Light, Michael T. and Joey Marshall. 2018. “On the Weak Mortality Returns of the Prison Boom: Comparing Infant Mortality and Homicide in the Incarceration Ledger.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 59: 3-19.

Light, Michael T. Ty Miller, and Brian C. Kelly. 2017. “Undocumented Immigration, Drug Problems, and Driving under the influence (DUI), 1990-2014.” American Journal of Public Health.

Light, Michael T. 2017. “Re-examining the Relationship between Latino Immigration and Racial/Ethnic Violence.” Social Science Research 65: 222-239.

Light, Michael T. 2017. “Punishing the ‘Others’: Citizenship and State Social Control in the United States and Germany.” European Journal of Sociology 58: 33-71.

Light, Michael T. and Jeffery T. Ulmer. 2016. “Explaining the Gaps in White, Black and Hispanic Violence since 1990: Accounting for Immigration, Incarceration, and Inequality.” American Sociological Review 81: 290-315.

Light, Michael T. 2016. “The Punishment Consequences of Lacking National Membership in Germany, 1998-2010.” Social Forces 94: 1385-1408.

Light, Michael T., Michael Massoglia, and Ryan D. King. 2014. “Citizenship and Punishment: The Salience of National Membership in U.S. Criminal Courts.” American Sociological Review 79: 825-847.

Light, Michael T. 2014. “The New Face of Legal Inequality: Noncitizens and the Long-Term Trends in Sentencing Disparities across U.S. District Courts, 1992-2009.” Law & Society Review 48: 447-478.

Houle, Jason N. and Michael T. Light. 2014. “The Home Foreclosure Crisis and Rising Suicide Rates, 2005-2010.” American Journal of Public Health 104: 1073-1079.