Victor Tan Chen is a sociologist who studies unemployment, inequality, and social policy. He is currently the 2012-2014 National Science Foundation and American Sociological Association Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation on unemployed autoworkers in the US and Canada was awarded the 2012 Thomas A. Kochan and Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Award from the Labor and Employment Relations Association. The book manuscript is currently under contract at the University of California Press. He received a PhD in sociology and social policy from Harvard University.
With Katherine S. Newman, he coauthored The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America (Beacon Press, 2007), one of the top-selling sociology books of recent years, which Library Journal selected as one of the Best Business Books of 2007. This seven-year study examined the prospects of the “near poor”—households with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty threshold, whose numbers eclipse those of the poor in this country. Victor also contributed to Newman’s book Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low-Wage Labor Market(Russell Sage Foundation and Harvard University Press, 2006), and coauthored one of its chapters, “Streetwise Economics,” on workers’ subjective understandings of labor economics. His work has been discussed in various news outlets, including BBC News, the New York Times, Bill Moyers Journal, and NPR.
Victor is the founding editor of In The Fray magazine, an online publication devoted to personal stories on global issues, which has published articles from all seven continents and received national recognition from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Previously, he worked as a reporter for Newsday, and his writing has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Miami Herald, the Oregonian, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Minority Law Journal, and Let’s Go: Chile.
The son of Taiwanese immigrant parents, Victor was born in New York, and grew up in the suburbs of South Jersey. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a BA in history and literature. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Emi, two young sons, and one elderly cat.