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Hillbilly Elegy Book Cover

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

by J.D. Vance

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Sources Cited in HillBilly Elegy

At several points in Hillbilly Elegy, Vance cites studies by economists, psychologists, and sociologists. Some of those studies are freely available on the Web; they are linked here.

The Equality of Opportunity Project
This project, which is a collaboration among economists at a variety of universities, investigates upward income mobility in the United States and what it takes for families to overcome poverty. Vance cites it several times, first on p. 93, where he writes about religion and church attendance, and later on pp. 241-42, where he writes about opportunity and the American Dream.

Family instability and child well-being
Vance cites this article, by two sociologists at Johns Hopkins University, on the top of p. 229; this is the part of the book where he addresses how the relationships his mother had while he was growing up may have affected his adult life. The sentence Vance quotes comes from the very beginning of the article, which reports on a research study the authors conducted. This article uses fairly technical language; to get a sense of the authors' findings without reading the entire thing, try reading the Abstract (the summary paragraph at the beginning) and, if you want to know more, the Discussion section (which comes near the end).

Early childhood adversity, toxic stress, and the role of the pediatrician
On p. 228, Vance quotes a study by "Harvard researchers" about how the developing brain responds to stress during childhood. He does not say where the quote comes from, but it appears to be from the fifth page of this report from Pediatrics, a scholarly journal published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.