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Dalton Conley

Affiliated Scholar

Dalton Conley is currently university professor and chair of NYU’s Sociology Department. He is also adjunct professor of community medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  He also serves as a senior advisor to the UN Millennium Project.

In 2005, Conley became the first sociologist to win the Alan T. Waterman Award, from the National Science Foundation, for best young researcher in science, math, or engineering.  He has studied sibling differences in socioeconomic success, racial inequalities, the measurement of class and social status, and health and biology’s effects on and by social position.  Conley has written four books and edited two on these subjects including, The Pecking Order: A Bold New Look at How Family and Society Determine Who We Become (2005) and Honky (2000). 

Conley received his B.A. in the humanities from the UC Berkeley in 1990, an M.P.A. from Columbia University in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Sociology (with distinction) also from Columbia in 1996.  He pursued post-doctoral training as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Scholar at the University of California at Berkeley from 1996-98.  From 1998 to 2000, Conley was assistant professor of sociology and African American studies at Yale University.  He joined the faculty of NYU in January 2000 as an associate professor of sociology and is also a visiting associate professor of sociology at Yale and Princeton.

Conley has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation; a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award; and an International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a German Marshall Fund Fellow and has been selected as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. 

Major Works:


  • The Pecking Order: A Bold New Look at How Family and Society Determine Who We Become.  Vintage Books, 2005.
  • Bennett, Neil; Conley, Dalton; and Strully, Kate.  The Starting Gate: Birth Weight and Life Chances.  University of California Press, 2003.
  • Albright, Karen and Conley, Dalton.  After the Bell: Family Background, Public Policy, and Educational Success.  Routledge, 2004.
  • Conley, Dalton, ed.  Wealth and Poverty in America: A Reader.  Blackwell Publishers, 2003.
  • Honky.  University of California Press, 2000.
  • Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America.  University of California Press; Berkeley, 1999.


  • Conley, Dalton and Glauber, Rebecca, "Gender, Body Mass and Economic Status" (May 2005). NBER Working Paper No. W11343.
  • Conley, Dalton and Glauber, Rebecca, "Parental Educational Investment and Children’s Academic Risk: Estimates of the Impact of Sibship Size and Birth Order from Exogenous Variation in Fertility" (May 2005). NBER Working Paper No. W11302. 
  • Conley, Dalton and Yeung, W. Jean.  “Black-White Differences in Occupational Prestige: Their Impact on Child Development.”  American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 48, No. 9, 2005.  
  • “A Room With a View or a Room of One’s Own? Housing and Social Stratification.” Sociological Forum, Volume 16, Issue 2, Jun 2001, Pages 263 – 280. 
  • Dalton Conley, Neil G. Bennett.  “Is Biology Destiny? Birth Weight and Life Chances.”  American Sociological Review, Vol. 65, No. 3 June, 2000, pp. 458-467. 

Appearances: ABC News, CNN, NBC, Fox News, FreshAir