Florencia Torche is a social scientist with expertise in social demography and social stratification. Professor Torche’s scholarship examines inequality dynamics including intergenerational mobility, disparities in educational attainment, family dynamics, and assortative mating, among others. Her research also examines the influence of early-life exposures –starting before birth– on iindividual wellbeing and inequality. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020, and to the Sociological Research Association in 2013.

Torche has led many large data collection projects, including the first national survey on social mobility in Chile and Mexico. She has served as deputy editor of the American Sociological Review (2020-2022 and 2015-2018), Consulting Editor of the American Journal of Sociology, and Editorial Board of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Forces, Sociology of Education, and Sociological Theory among others. She has served on the Board of Overseers of the General Social Survey.

Professor Torche holds a BA from the Catholic University of Chile and an MA and PhD in Sociology from Columbia University.

Academic Appointments

Program Affiliations

  • Center for Latin American Studies

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • The Unequal Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Infant Health. Demography Torche, F., Nobles, J. 2022


    The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a large toll on population health and well-being. We examine the consequences of prenatal exposure for infant health, through which the pandemic may have lasting intergenerational effects. We examine multiple pathways by which the pandemic shaped birth outcomes and socioeconomic disparities in these consequences. Analysis of more than 3.5 million birth records in California with universal information on COVID infection among persons giving birth at the time of delivery reveals deep inequalities in infection by education, race/ethnicity, and place-based socioeconomic disadvantage. COVID infection during pregnancy, in turn, predicts a large increase in the probability of preterm birth, by approximately one third. At the population level, a surprising reduction in preterm births during the first months of the pandemic was followed by an increase in preterm births during the surge in COVID infections in the winter of 2021. Whereas the early-pandemic reduction in preterm births benefited primarily highly educated mothers, the increase in preterm births during the winter infection surge was entirely concentrated among mothers with low levels of schooling. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to exacerbate U.S. inequality in multiple ways. Our findings highlight a particularly enduring pathway: the long-term legacy of prenatal exposure to an unequal pandemic environment.

    View details for DOI 10.1215/00703370-10311128

    View details for PubMedID 36326022

  • Unequal effects of disruptive events SOCIOLOGY COMPASS Aquino, T., Brand, J. E., Torche, F. 2022

    View details for DOI 10.1111/soc4.12972

    View details for Web of Science ID 000756671800001

  • Impact of Medicaid Expansion on Interpregnancy Interval. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health Liu, C., Snowden, J. M., Rossin-Slater, M., Torche, F., DiTosto, J. D., Carmichael, S. L. 1800


    OBJECTIVES: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) improved access to reproductive health care for low-income women and birthing people who were previously ineligible for Medicaid. We aimed to evaluate if the expansion affected the risk of having a short interpregnancy interval (IPI), a preventable risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes.METHODS: We evaluated parous singleton births to mothers aged 19 or older from U.S. birth certificate data 2009-2018. We estimated the effect of residing in a state that expanded Medicaid access (expansion status determined at 60days after the prior live birth) on the risk of having a short IPI (<12months) using difference-in-differences (DID) methods in linear probability models. We stratified the analyses by maternal characteristics and county-level reproductive health care access.RESULTS: Overall risk of short IPI was 14.9% in expansion states and 16.3% in non-expansion states. The expansion was not associated with a significant change in risk of having a short IPI (adjusted mean percentage point change 1.24 [-1.64, 4.12]). Stratified results also did not provide support for an association.CONCLUSIONS: ACA Medicaid expansion did not have an impact on risk of short IPI. Preventing short IPI may require more comprehensive policy interventions in addition to health care access.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.whi.2021.12.004

    View details for PubMedID 35016841

  • The Political Context and Infant Health in the United States AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW Torche, F., Rauf, T. 2021
  • The Normativity of Marriage and the Marriage Premium for Children's Outcomes(1) AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY Torche, F., Abufhele, A. 2021; 126 (4): 931-968

    View details for DOI 10.1086/713382

    View details for Web of Science ID 000640226800005

  • The Transition to Fatherhood and the Health of Men JOURNAL OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY Torche, F., Rauf, T. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1111/jomf.12732

    View details for Web of Science ID 000581178700001

  • Early-Life Circumstances and Their Effects Over the Life Course POPULATION RESEARCH AND POLICY REVIEW Torche, F. 2019; 38 (6): 771–82
  • Varieties of Indigeneity in the Americas SOCIAL FORCES Telles, E., Torche, F. 2019; 97 (4): 1543–69

    View details for DOI 10.1093/sf/soy091

    View details for Web of Science ID 000493319100018

  • Restrictive Immigration Law and Birth Outcomes of Immigrant Women AMERICAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY Torche, F., Sirois, C. 2019; 188 (1): 24–33

    View details for DOI 10.1093/aje/kwy218

    View details for Web of Science ID 000465359900005

  • Estimating Intergenerational Mobility With Grouped Data: A Critique of Clark's the Son Also Rises SOCIOLOGICAL METHODS & RESEARCH Torche, F., Corvalan, A. 2018; 47 (4): 787–811
  • Restrictive Immigration Law and Birth Outcomes of Immigrant Women. American journal of epidemiology Torche, F., Sirois, C. 2018


    Unauthorized immigration is one of the most contentious policy issues in the United States. In an attempt to curb unauthorized migration, many states have considered restrictive laws intended to make life so difficult for unauthorized immigrants that they would choose to leave the country. Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, enacted in 2010, pioneered these efforts. Using population-level natality data and causal inference methods, we examine the effect of SB1070 on infants exposed before birth in Arizona. Prenatal exposure to the bill resulted in lower birthweight among Latina immigrant women, but not among US-born white, black, or Latina women. The decline in birthweight resulted from exposure to the bill being signed into law, rather than from its (limited) implementation. The findings indicate that the threat of a punitive law, even in the absence of implementation, can have a harmful effect on the birth outcomes of the next generation.

    View details for PubMedID 30358825

  • Intergenerational Mobility at the Top of the Educational Distribution SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION Torche, F. 2018; 91 (4): 266–89
  • Prenatal Exposure to an Acute Stressor and Children's Cognitive Outcomes DEMOGRAPHY Torche, F. 2018; 55 (5): 1611-1639
  • Prenatal Exposure to an Acute Stressor and Children's Cognitive Outcomes. Demography Torche, F. 2018


    Exposure to environmental stressors is highly prevalent and unequally distributed along socioeconomic lines and may have enduring negative consequences, even when experienced before birth. Yet, estimating the consequences of prenatal stress on children's outcomes is complicated by the issue of confounding (i.e., unobserved factors correlated with stress exposure and with children's outcomes). I combine a natural experiment-a strong earthquake in Chile-with a panel survey to capture the effect of prenatal exposure on acute stress and children's cognitive ability. I find that stress exposure in early pregnancy has no effect on children's cognition among middle-class families, but it has a strong negative influence among disadvantaged families. I then examine possible pathways accounting for the socioeconomic stratification in the effect of stress, including differential exposure across socioeconomic status, differential sensitivity, and parental responses. Findings suggest that the interaction between prenatal exposures and socioeconomic advantage provides a powerful mechanism for the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.

    View details for PubMedID 30105648

  • Means-Tested School Vouchers and Educational Achievement: Evidence from Chile's Universal Voucher System ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE Mizala, A., Torche, F. 2017; 674 (1): 163-183
  • Panel Conditioning in the General Social Survey SOCIOLOGICAL METHODS & RESEARCH Halpern-Manners, A., Warren, J. R., Torche, F. 2017; 46 (1): 103-124


    Does participation in one wave of a survey have an effect on respondents' answers to questions in subsequent waves? In this article, we investigate the presence and magnitude of "panel conditioning" effects in one of the most frequently used data sets in the social sciences: the General Social Survey (GSS). Using longitudinal records from the 2006, 2008, and 2010 surveys, we find evidence that at least some GSS items suffer from this form of bias. To rule out the possibility of contamination due to selective attrition and/or unobserved heterogeneity, we strategically exploit a series of between-person comparisons across time-in-survey groups. This methodology, which can be implemented whenever researchers have access to at least three waves of rotating panel data, is described in some detail so as to facilitate future applications in data sets with similar design elements.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0049124114532445

    View details for Web of Science ID 000397239500005

    View details for PubMedID 28025587

  • Compensation or Reinforcement? The Stratification of Parental Responses to Children's Early Ability DEMOGRAPHY Gratz, M., Torche, F. 2016; 53 (6): 1883-1904


    Theory and empirical evidence suggest that parents allocate their investments unequally among their children, thus inducing within-family inequality. We investigate whether parents reinforce or compensate for initial ability differences between their children as well as whether these parental responses vary by family socioeconomic status (SES). Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) and a twin fixed-effects approach to address unobserved heterogeneity, we find that parental responses to early ability differences between their children do vary by family SES. Contrary to prior findings, we find that advantaged parents provide more cognitive stimulation to higher-ability children, and lower-class parents do not respond to ability differences. No analogous stratification in parental responses to birth weight is found, suggesting that parents' responses vary across domains of child endowments. The reinforcing responses to early ability by high-SES parents do not, however, led to increases in ability differences among children because parental responses have little effect on children's later cognitive performance in this twin sample.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s13524-016-0527-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000389347700009

    View details for PubMedID 27844397