21 Questions with Bill Axinn

photo of Bill AxinnBill Axinn has a varied and long-time affiliation with the Population Studies Center.

Following his graduation from Cornell in 1986, Bill was a trainee at the Center until 1990, when he received his PhD in sociology. After holding academic and research positions at the University of Chicago and Penn State, he returned to Michigan in 1998 as a professor in the sociology department and a research professor at PSC, serving as the Center’s associate director from 2003 to 2008.
Bill has conducted ground-breaking research in Nepal for almost 30 years, starting with work for his dissertation (“Social Change, Family Organization and Fertility Decline: Tests of a Theoretical Model among the Tamang of Nepal”). He helped found the Chitwan Valley Family Study (CVFS) in 1995 – a mixed-method panel study tracking social, environmental, and population processes for more than 10,000 rural Nepalese. He has also directed the Population and Ecology Research Laboratory in Chitwan Valley, Nepal since 1994 – a research and training enterprise for Nepalese and Americans studying socio-environmental science.

Bill’s other involvement includes work with Bob Groves and a large ISR team to win the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) contract in 1999 – a special study to PSC because it is directly based on Ron Freedman’s pioneering national survey of fertility in 1955. The national survey was at PSC in 1955 and 1960 and Bob and Bill brought it back to ISR, where it remains.

Bill has worked with many other PSC faculty, including with Arland Thornton for many years on the Intergenerational Panel Study of Mothers and Children, with Jennifer Barber and Mick Couper to launch the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life study, and with Dirgha Ghimire, Tom Fricke, Arland, and Jennifer on several different studies connected to the CVFS.

Bill’s recent work continues to focus on difficult-to-measure population issues in the US and Nepal. After nearly five years of a pilot study conducted with Ron Kessler, Stephanie Chardoul, Dirgha, and colleagues associated with the World Mental Health Survey Initiative, Bill is launching a new project on family change and mental health in Nepal. This research is designed to measure both mental health and DNA-based genetic predictors of mental health. PSC’s Colter Mitchell is also involved in this NICHD-supported study. In September 2015, Bill launched the National Campus Climate Survey, which is based on the successful U-M survey collected in early 2015 and designed to measure sexual misconduct on campus. In November 2015, Bill will begin a nine-year project called the Global Girls Research Initiative (GGRI). Funded by the Department for International Development in the U.K., it will evaluate programs intended to improve the well-being of adolescent girls in four poor countries in South Asia and Africa.. Using embedded random control trials within mixed-method longitudinal studies, the GGRI represents the largest use to date of SRC’s international data collection tools for a project collecting demographic data.

photo of Bill Axinn and family

1. First job? ​Waiter, Kellogg Center, Michigan State University (my favorite part was tending bar).
2. First website you access in the morning? Email at umich.edu, followed by cnn.com.
3. Recently read book? ​Crazy Like Us, by Ethan Watters.
4. First music you ever bought? REO Speedwagon.
5. Current favorite vacation destination? ​Maui. It is fabulous.
6. What makes you laugh out loud? Amy Shumer.
7. What ticks you off? Wasting data.
8. If you had a time machine, where and when would you visit? ​My dad while he was in college.
9. If you could have any three dinner companions? My wife and kids on Sunday night!
10. What super power would you like to have? The Force.
11. Life-changing moment? Being chased by a rhinoceros and living through it. I draw on thisone every time I must lead a group activity with faculty.
12. Parents’ greatest impact? ​ Taking me to live in Nepal at age 12.
13. Mind you’d most like to read? ​My wife’s.
14. Best award you ever won? ​NSF Young Investigator Award.
15. If money were no object, what would you like to finance? ​A multi-country family panel study in South Asia, with a face-to-face interview launch and monthly follow-ups in a mixed-mode (phone/web), cell phone-heavy design.
16. Memorable movie line or song lyric? ​ “Get busy living, or get busy dying,” from The Shawshank Redemption (and yes, sometimes Colter is right).
17. Favorite room in home? ​Bedroom.
18. Guilty pleasure? ​Knight’s Steakhouse.​
19. Fitness workout? Hiking, cross-training, tennis.
20. If you could choose another career? “Paperback writer” – fiction.
21. What do you like about your work? Writing!

Recently Funded Projects at PSC

photo of Bill AxinnWilliam Axinn
Testing a New Approach to Research on Genetics, Environment, Family and Mental Health
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
9/11/2015 – 8/31/2016
$299,682
Psychiatric disorders are the leading source of disability worldwide and have substantial consequences for individual health and family outcomes. The relationships among family, community, and mental health issues are complex because of the high potential for reciprocal causation. The first step toward disentangling these complex relationships is to identify the role of causal factors that precede the formation of psychiatric disorders so that subsequent steps can estimate the mediating power of psychiatric disorders in long-term outcomes such as family change and variation. This project will take this first step using a transformative and novel approach that integrates psychiatric genetics and population studies.

photo of Martha BaileyMartha Bailey
Longitudinal Intergenerational Family Electronic Micro-Database (LIFE-M)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
9/15/2015 – 8/31/2019
$2,129,972
This project will create a large-scale dataset to analyze how have the determinants of economic success, social mobility, family structure, and health in the U.S. have changed over the 20th century. The Longitudinal Intergenerational Family Electronic Micro-Dataset (LIFE-M) will broaden knowledge by (1) compiling micro-data records from individual vital records (births, marriages, and deaths); (2) exploiting new statistical and software technology to link individual vital records across time, inter-generationally, and to the 1880, 1910, and 1940 full censuses; and (3) creating new longitudinal and intergeneration micro-data and processing programs to facilitate analyses of these data.

Martha Bailey
Evaluation the Lasting, Economic Benefits from the War on Poverty
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
7/14/2015 – 1/31/2019
$921,018
There is a confidentiality restriction on the award for this project. Contact Kerri Cross for more information: kerris@umich.edu

photo of Jennifer BarberJennifer Barber
Distal Determinants of Race-Ethnic Variation in Unintended Fertility
Bowling Green State University (P=National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD))
7/1/2015 – 6/3/2016
$98,897
Although the proximate determinants of unintended fertility are clear (failure to use effective contraception and carrying unintended pregnancies to term), the underlying causes of these behaviors, and of race/ethnic/nativity differences, are not well understood. This project proposes two key distal determinants – reproductive knowledge and fertility motivation – that may explain unintended fertility and race/ethnic/nativity differences. We use three complementary datasets: the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life study (RDSL), the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), and the 2009 National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge (Fog Zone). Combining these data resources enables us to move beyond prior descriptive work to identify precursors of risky sexual behavior and unintended fertility. Our goal is to create reliable and valid measures to identify those most at risk for unintended fertility, which can then be applied to future research and interventions.

photo of Daniel EisenbergDaniel Eisenberg
Estimating the Return on Investment (ROI) for Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
4/1/2015 – 12/20/2015
$75,000
This project has two interrelated goals: 1) provide estimates of the ROI (benefit-cost ratio) for the services and programs provided by BGCA to youth; and 2) identify the strengths and limitations of these estimates and offer ideas for obtaining more precise and robust estimates in the future. The ROI can be thought as the product of two components: the short-run causal effects of the BGCA activities on youth outcomes, and the longer-term economic consequences of those short-run outcomes.

photo of Jeffrey SmithJeffrey Smith
The Literacy Laboratory Project (LLP) under the Northern Uganda Literacy Program
Economic and Social Research Council
5/1/2015 – 4/30/2019
$1,487,660
In Uganda only 44.5% of children pass basic literacy tests. Similar to other African countries, Uganda has many problems in its education system, including undertrained teachers, lack of materials, no systems for tracking pupil performance, and lack of support from parents, communities and local officials. This project will scale up and evaluate the Mango Tree (MT), a private educational tools company that has piloted a literacy project in northern Uganda. U-M researchers conduct a randomized control trial of the program over 4 years to measure the effectiveness of the instructional model, teacher training and methods, and literacy materials in 128 schools. The study collects a rich set of pupil, parent, teacher, classroom, and school-level longitudinal data. Learning outcomes are measured principally in terms of improvements in reading and writing assessment scores.

photo of Narayan SastryNarayan Sastry
Survey of New Orleans Residents Displaced by Hurricane Katrina (SubK to UM)
(P=National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD))
3/30/2015 – 8/31/2015
$106,500
Two key tasks will be undertaken at the University of Michigan. First, we will assist with outreach efforts among the demographic and social science research community to encourage use of the DNORS data and will provide support to DNORS data users. Second, we will collaborate with RAND to complete the analyses of DNORS non-response patterns and return or resettlement behavior of pre-Katrina residents of New Orleans.

photo of Dean YangDean Yang
Collaborative Research: Fingerprinting to Reduce Risky Borrowing
National Science Foundation (NSF)
6/1/2015 – 5/31/2018
$92,744
This project will quantify the credit market and household-level impacts of improved personal identification of borrowers in Malawi. Researchers will collect digital fingerprints of microloan borrowers, which, given the absence of alternative effective means of establishing personal identity, will Malawian lenders implement dynamic repayment incentives – conditioning future credit on a borrower’s past repayment performance. Microlenders will provide fingerprint-matched credit records to commercial credit reference bureaus, which should increase the impact of the intervention. Impacts will be assessed using administrative data from microlenders in combination with two years of survey data on borrowers and loan officers.

Media Citings

photo of George AlterGeorge Alter, on how limited access to administrative data hampers evaluation of government programs: “Health systems, social-welfare systems, financial transactions, business records — [data from] these things are just not available in most cases because of privacy concerns. This is a big drag on research.” Nature, 9/22/2015.


photo of Narayan SastryNarayan Sastry, on why hurricane Katrina evacuees who returned to New Orleans within a year differ demographically from those who did not: “Most of the displaced adults likely faced considerable economic and institutional barriers in being able to move back to the city, such as the lack of affordable rental housing.” CityLab, 8/25/2015.


photo of Elizabeth ArmstrongElizabeth Armstrong, on why women continue to be drawn to Tinder – a ‘hookup app’ that many women claim to hate: “For young women the problem in navigating sexuality and relationships is still gender inequality. We need to puzzle out why women have made more strides in the public arena than in the private arena.” Real Clear Politics. 8/3/2015.


photo of David LamDavid Lam, on why recent slowdowns in the labor-force growth of China and Europe are good for American workers: “The intense downward pressure on wages that’s come from the rest of the world is going to ease off a bit.” Bloomberg Business, 7/28/2015.


photo of Lisa NeidertLisa Neidert, on why so many Americans live alone: “The relative size of the divorced and separated population has tripled, but this is not just an indication that divorce is more common than in the past. It also reflects the fact that people are choosing not to remarry upon the end of a marriage.” New York Times, 7/6/2015.


photo of H. Luke ShaeferFrom a review of $2.00 a Day a book by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, “Shaefer analyzed the census data…to determine the growth of the virtually cashless poor since welfare reform. His results were shocking: since the passage of TANF in 1996, the number of families living in $2-a-day poverty had more than doubled, reaching 1.5 million households in early 2011.” New York Times Sunday Book Review, 9/2/2015.


photo of Bill FreyBill Frey, on why politicians like Trump should stop their fear mongering about immigrants and minorities: “Racial minorities will represent all of the growth in our labor force for the next 20 years, and their success will translate into economic prosperity and future contributions to Social Security and Medicare.” Washington Post, 7/17/2015.


photo of James HouseJames House, on what the US needs, beyond better access to health care, to improve population well-being: “The greatest opportunity for making Americans healthier lies in improving access to education, income and better occupational and residential conditions.” The Guardian, 7/6/2015.


photo of Arline GeronimusArline Geronimus, on her study of health risk among poor Detroiters: “Currently, residents of Detroit are struggling—whether they are white, black or of Mexican descent—in ways that measurably impact their health negatively, including at the cellular level… These findings are consistent with the view that social inequality can affect group health.” Medical Xpress, 6/10/2015.

Arline Geronimus, on why standard measures of population health such as race, income, and education, are inadequate to studying group disparities: “There are effects of living in high-poverty, racially segregated neighborhoods – the life experiences people have, the physical exposures, a whole range of things – that are just not good for your health.” Huffington Post, 5/8/2015.


photo of JJ PrescottJJ Prescott, on why sex offender registries may increase recidivism: “These laws destroy what’s valuable about someone’s freedom: You’re a pariah virtually everywhere, you can’t live in most neighborhoods, and nobody wants to date, marry or socialize with you. You can’t find a job because no one will hire a sex offender…. For some of these people, prison is a better option than trying to survive on the outside.” Detroit Free Press, 5/18/2015.


photo of Kristine SeefeldtKristin Seefeldt, on why legislation restricting daily cash withdrawals to $25 from public assistance debit cards is punitive: “Banks have traditionally not located themselves in neighborhoods that they perceive either to be unsafe, or where there’s no customer base. If that’s the way [welfare beneficiaries] are getting cash, that can be a real chore and a challenge.” Washington Post, 5/21/2015.


photo of Heather Ann ThompsonHeather Ann Thompson, on the need to reduce mass incarceration via public officials: “Through the politicians we elected, we chose the disastrous policies that led to the crisis of mass incarceration. We didn’t need to do it because of historically remarkable crime rates. We chose it, so we must now unchoose it.” New York Times, 9/28/2015.


photo of Margaret HickenMargaret Hicken and coauthors, on the ramifications of their finding that 44% of black American women have an incarcerated family member: “[M]ass imprisonment has fundamentally reshaped inequality not only for the adult men for whom imprisonment has become common, but also for their families.” San Francisco Bay View, 5/27/2015.


photo of Pamela SmockPamela Smock, on how women’s view of men as ‘helping out’ with family and household tasks contributes to inequality in the division of domestic responsibilities: “As long as the phrase ‘he helped’ is used, we know we have not attained gender equality.” New York Times, 5/8/2015.


photo of Reuben MillerReuben Miller, on how reviews of correctional facilities by former inmates on Yelp – a site with millions of reviews written by business customers – may serve several purposes, including to “share expertise,” to “voice frustration or some glimmer of hope,” and to reinforce “public surveillance of criminal justice actors.” Tech Insider, 9/11/2015.


Paula Fomby: Exploring the Roles of Family Change and Social Context in Children’s Development

photo of Paula FombyWhen I joined in the Population Studies Center in September 2013, I was delighted to become part of an intellectually vibrant and collegial environment for research and training in demography. During a campus visit earlier that year, another PSC affiliate assured me that being in the Center “is like being at PAA every day.”

Since the first brown bag I attended, I’ve found PSC to be all that and more – a combination of first-rate scholarship, outstanding professional support, and a shared enthusiasm for the practical and policy implications of the rigorous research conducted here. (And even better than the PAA meetings, there are no long lines for morning coffee at PSC!)

Prior to joining PSC and the Survey Research Center, I was a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University and an assistant professor of Sociology at University of Colorado Denver. Over the past decade, I’ve developed a research agenda that has broadly considered the question of whether and how changes in family structure influence the well-being of family members, and particularly children. Within this area, I am particularly interested in the effects of family instability, or parents’ frequent changes in union status as a child is growing up.

photo of Paula Fomby hikingOne of the most consistent and robust findings in this line of research is that family instability when children are young is strongly associated with children’s verbal ability and behavior across the early life course. This association holds across national contexts and in research designs that take parents’ background, more proximate instability, and children’s neighborhood, school, and peer contexts into account.

PSC has provided two opportunities to pursue new directions to explain this association. First, a grant from the PSC Ford Fund allowed me and Colter Mitchell to organize a series of seminars in the Center during the 2014-15 academic year to introduce neuroscience perspectives and methods to demographic research. The interdisciplinary seminars brought together developmental psychologists, sampling methodologists, and education researchers to consider how data from neuroimaging technology paired with strong theory and population-representative samples can advance our understanding of how biology and environment interact to shape and respond to demographic process. Participating in this series felt like a gift. Before joining ISR, I sat in my office and muttered questions to myself or anyone passing by about whether there might be a neurological explanation for why family instability during a specific life stage was so persistently associated with specific domains of child development. I could see no way I might ever answer the question on my own. And of course, it’s not a question one person can answer – it requires the interdisciplinarity, investment, and collaborative nature of places like PSC, SRC, and ISR to happen.

photo of Paula Fomby hikingSecond, I was delighted to have the opportunity to present research with colleagues from Colorado in the fall 2014 PSC brown bag seminar series. In that work, my co-authors Joshua Goode, Stefanie Mollborn, and I demonstrated that sibship, and particularly half-sibling and step-sibling relationships formed through parents’ multipartner fertility, has an independent association with children’s early behavior problems that may partially explain how family instability operates to shape children’s socioemotional development. The thoughtful and challenging questions from brown bag participants substantially informed how we approached the final manuscript, which is now forthcoming in Demography.

SC has also been an invaluable resource for beginning a new line of research on the family backgrounds of first-generation college students. At CU Denver, I met many students who hoped to be the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree. Some had a parent or sibling who had spent some time in college but never finished. As I watched these students both strive and struggle, I wondered whether having family members with “some college” experience was a help or a hindrance, or of no consequence, to the achievement of these students whose first-generation status was ambiguous even to themselves. Since joining PSC, I’ve had the very fun chance to investigate this question using data from PSID and its child supplements in collaboration with Christina Cross, a PSC trainee and PhD candidate in Sociology and Public Policy.

photo of Paula Fomby at waterfallWe presented our preliminary results at the ASA meetings in Chicago this summer (in short: students whose parents had some college are more likely to attend college themselves but no more likely to finish compared to students whose parents never attended college).

Outside of ISR, my interests include making condiments (let’s talk about mustard!), swimming, running, reading, traveling, and making semi-functional bowls (for holding condiments) at parent-child pottery classes with my 12-year-old daughter. My husband, Richard Miech, also works at ISR and, in addition to our daughter, we live with my mother and an orange cat named Pumpkin in Burns Park.

photo of Paula Fomby jogging with daughter
Spotting the course photographer during the Esprit de She 5K in Westminster, CO, Paula and daughter Claire resume running after walking for a bit.

New PSC Research Affiliates

photo of Danny AlmirallDanny Almirall, Research Assistant Professor at the Survey Research Center, joined PSC as a Research Affiliate in June 2015. His current methodological research interests lie in the broad area of causal inference.


photo of Pamela Davis-KeanPamela Davis-Kean, Professor of Psychology, joined PSC as a Research Affiliate in September 2015. Her research explores the relationships and pathways between parental SES – particular, parental education – and children’s achievement outcomes.


photo of Jessica FaulJessica Faul, Associate Research Scientist at the Survey Research Center, became a PSC Research Affiliate in October 2015. Her work focuses on socioeconomic predictors of health and health disparities across the life course.


photo of Joe GrengsJoe Grengs, Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, joined PSC as a Research Affiliate in June 2015. His research focuses on transportation planning and how metropolitan land-use patterns contribute to uneven economic development and social disparities.


photo of Paula LantzPaula Lantz, Professor of Public Policy, became a PSC Research Affiliate in September 2015. She studies the role of public health in health care reform, clinical preventive services, and social inequalities in health.


photo of Margaret LevensteinMargaret Levenstein, Director of the Michigan Census Research Data Center, became a PSC Research Affiliate in September 2015. She studies the evolution of information systems and relationships with firm organization and competition, information networks, and competition policies.


photo of John MarcotteJohn Marcotte, Director of ICPSR’s Data Sharing for Demographic Research, became a PSC Research Affiliate in September 2015. He is a statistician and data security expert.


photo of Carlos Mendes de LeonCarlos Mendes de Leon, Professor of Epidemiology, became a Research Affiliate at PSC in June 2015. He studies an array of social and psychological determinants in the development of disability, cognitive decline, and other common age-associated health conditions.


photo of Belinda NeedhamBelinda Needham, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, became a PSC Research Affiliate in June 2015. Her research focuses on health disparities and biosocial interactions.


photo of Jason Owen-SmithJason Owen-Smith, Professor of Public Policy and Sociology, became a PSC Research Affiliate in June 2015. He studies economic sociology, organizational and network theory, the sociology of science and technology, and research methods.


photo of Natasha PilkauskasNatasha Pilkauskas, Assistant Professor, Ford School of Public Policy, joined PSC as a Research Affiliate in October 2015. Her broad research interest is the health, development, and wellbeing of low-income families.


photo of Jukka SavolainenJukka Savolainen, Director of ICPSR’s National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, became a PSC Research Affiliate in September 2015. His research focuses on the causes of crime, violence, and delinquency.


photo of Alexandra SternAlexandra Stern, Professor of American Culture, became a Research Affiliate at PSC in August 2015. She studies the history of eugenics and the uses and misuses of genetics in the United States and Latin America, as well as the history of public health.


photo of Sarah StoddardSarah Stoddard, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, became a PSC Research Affiliate in August 2015. She studies the interactions among individual and social/environmental factors that shape the psychosocial and health trajectories of at-risk urban youth.


photo of Heather Ann ThompsonHeather Ann Thompson, Professor of History, joined PSC as a Research Affiliate in August 2015. Her research and writing focus on the history of mass incarceration and its current impact.


photo of Tiffany VeinotTiffany Veinot, Associate Professor in the School of Information and the School of Public Health, joined PSC as a Research Affiliate in July 2015. Her work identifies factors that affect health information access in marginalized communities and families.


photo of James WagnerJames Wagner, Research Assistant Professor at the Survey Research Center, became a PSC Research Affiliate in July 2015. His research interests include nonresponse error, quality indicators for survey data, and responsive or adaptive design.


photo of Brady WestBrady West, Research Assistant Professor at the Survey Research Center, became a PSC Research Affiliate in July 2015. He studies the implications of measurement error in auxiliary variables and survey para- data for survey estimation, survey nonresponse, and interviewer variance


photo of Kristine WitkowskiKristine Witkowski, Research Investigator at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, became a Research Affiliate at PSC in October 2014. She studies methods that develop and use historical and spatial data; and migration dynamics in the Great Plains.


Recent Publications by PSC Affiliates

Tang, Sandra, and Pamela E. Davis-Kean. Online Access 2015. “The Association of Punitive Parenting Practices and Adolescent Achievement.” Journal of Family Psychology. Abstract. DOI.

Levenstein, Margaret, Jagadeesh Sivadasan, and Valerie Y. Suslow. 2015. “The effect of competition on trade: Evidence from the collapse of international cartels.” International Journal of Industrial Organization, 39: 56-70. Abstract. DOI.

Savolainen, Jukka, W. Alex Mason, Lorine A. Hughes, Hanna Ebeling, Tuula M. Hurtig, and Anja M. Taanila. 2015. “Pubertal Development and Sexual Intercourse among Adolescent Girls: An Examination of Direct, Mediated, and Spurious Pathways.” Youth & Society, 47(4): 520-538. Abstract. DOI.

West, Brady Thomas, Dirgha Ghimire, and William Axinn. 2015. “Evaluating a Modular Design Approach to Collecting Survey Data Using Text Messages.” Survey Research Methods, 9(2): 111-123. Abstract. DOI.

Stoddard, Sarah Anne, Quyen Epstein-Ngo, Maureen Walton, Marc A. Zimmerman, Stephen T. Chermack, Frederic C. Blow, Brenda M. Booth, and Rebecca M. Cunningham. 2015. “Substance Use and Violence Among Youth: A Daily Calendar Analysis.” Substance Use & Misuse, 50(3): 328-339. Abstract. DOI.

Xu, Hongwei, Airan Liu, and Yueyun Zhang. 2015. “Inequality in children’s well-being and development: Evidence from a national panel study.” Chinese Journal of Sociology, 1(1): 88-107. Abstract. DOI.

Sylvester, Kenneth M., Myron Gutmann, and Daniel G. Brown. Online Access 2015. “At the margins: agriculture, subsidies and the shifting fate of North America’s native grassland.” Population and Environment. Abstract. DOI.

Faul, Jessica, David Weir, and Others. 2015. “Directional dominance on stature and cognition in diverse human populations.” Nature, 523(7561): 459-462. Abstract. DOI.

Sastry, Narayan. 2015. “Stressful Life Experiences and Contexts: The Effects on Parents and Parenting.” In Families in an Era of Increasing Inequality: Diverging Destinies edited by Paul R. Amato, Alan Booth, Susan M. McHale, Jennifer Van Hook. New York: Springer. Abstract. DOI.

Schoeni, Robert F., Suzanne M. Bianchi, Joseph Hotz, Judith A. Selzer, and Emily E. Wiemers. 2015. “Intergenerational transfers and extended family roster: a new substudy of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.” Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 6(3): 319-330. Abstract. DOI.

Seefeldt, Kristin. 2015. “Constant Consumption Smoothing, Limited Investments, and Few Repayments: The Role of Debt in the Financial Lives of Economically Vulnerable Families.” Social Service Review, 89(2): 263-300. Abstract. DOI.

Stephenson, Rob, Darcy White, and Jason W. Mitchell. Online Access 2015. “Sexual Agreements and Perception of HIV Prevalence Among an Online Sample of Partnered Men Who Have Sex with Men.” Archives of Sexual Behavior. Abstract. DOI.

Ryan, Joseph P., Brian E. Perron, and Hui Huang. Online Access 2015. “Child Welfare and the Transition to Adulthood: Investigating Placement Status and Subsequent Arrests.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Abstract. DOI.

Prescott, J.J., and Charlie Gerstein. 2015. “Process Costs and Police Discretion.” Harvard Law Review, 128: 268-288. Abstract.

Xu, Hongwei, Lydia W. Li, Zhenmei Zhang, and Jinyu Liu. 2015. “Is Natural Experiment a Cure? Re-examing the Long-Term Health Effects of China’s 1959-1961 Famine.” PSC Research Report No. 15-844. August 2015. Abstract. PDF.

Gunlicks-Stoessel, Meredith, Laura Mufson, Ana Westervelt, Daniel Almirall, and Susan A. Murphy. Online Access 2015. “A Pilot SMART for Developing an Adaptive Treatment Strategy for Adolescent Depression.” Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. Abstract. DOI.

Li, Lydia W., Jinyu Liu, Hongwei Xu, and Zhenmei Zhang. Online Access 2015. “Understanding Rural–Urban Differences in Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults in China.” Journal of Aging and Health. Abstract. DOI.

Clarke, Philippa J., Jennifer Weuve, Lisa Barnes, Denis A. Evans, and Carlos Mendes de Leon. Online Access 2015. “Cognitive Decline and the Neighborhood Environment.” Annals of Epidemiology. Abstract. DOI.

Kimball, Miles. 2015. “Cognitive Economics.” Japanese Economic Review, 66(2): 167-181. Abstract. DOI.

Krause, Neal. 2015. “Assessing the relationships among race, religion, humility, and self-forgiveness: A longitudinal investigation.” Advances in Life Course Research, 24: 66-74. Abstract. DOI.

Kruger, Daniel J., M. Fisher, C. De Backer, I. Kardum, M. Tetaz, and S. Tifferet. 2015. “Human life history dimensions in reproductive strategies are intuitive across cultures.” Human Ethology Bulletin, 30(1): 109-120. Abstract.

Fomby, Paula, Laurie James-Hawkins, and Stefanie Mollborn. Forthcoming. “Family Resources in Two Generations and School Readiness Among Children of Teen Parents.” Population Research and Policy Review. Abstract. DOI.

West, Brady Thomas, James Wagner, Frost Hubbard, and Haoyu Gu. 2015. “The Utility of Alternative Commercial Data Sources for Survey Operations and Estimation: Evidence from the National Survey of Family Growth.” Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, 3(2): 240-264. Abstract. DOI.

Mitchell, Colter, Sara McLanahan, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Irwin Garfinkel, and Daniel Notterman. 2015. “Family Structure Instability, Genetic Sensitivity, and Child Well-Being.” American Journal of Sociology, 120(4): 1195-1225. Abstract. DOI.

Elliott, Michael R., and Brady Thomas West. 2015. “”Clustering by Interviewer”: A Source of Variance That Is Unaccounted for in Single-Stage Health Surveys.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 182(2): 118-126. Abstract. DOI.

Clarke, Philippa J., Ting Yan, Florian Keusch, and Nancy Gallagher. 2015. “The Impact of Weather on Mobility and Participation in Older US Adults.” American Journal of Public Health, 105(7): 1489-1494. Abstract. DOI.

Barber, Jennifer S., Jennifer Eckerman Yarger, and Heather Gatny. 2015. “Black-White Differences in Attitudes Related to Pregnancy Among Young Women.” Demography, 52(3): 751-786. Abstract. DOI.

Axinn, William. 2015. “Demographic Change: The Case of Chitwan Valley in Nepal.” International Journal of Sociology, 45(1): 1-3. DOI.

Ghimire, Dirgha. 2015. “Wives’ and Husbands’ Nonfamily Experiences and First-Birth Timing.” International Journal of Sociology, 45(1): 4-23. Abstract. DOI.

Bleakley, C. Hoyt, and Jeffrey Lin. 2015. “History and the Sizes of Cities.” American Economic Review, 105(5): 558-563. Abstract. DOI.

Rodriguez, Javier, Arline T. Geronimus, John Bound, and Danny Dorling. 2015. “Black lives matter: Differential mortality and the racial composition of the U.S. electorate, 1970–2004.” Social Science & Medicine, 136-137: 190-192. Abstract. DOI.

Bound, John, Breno Braga, Joseph Golden, and Gaurav Khanna. 2015. “Recruitment of Foreigners in the Market for Computer Scientists in the United States.” Journal of Labor Economics, 33(S1): S187-S223. Abstract. DOI.

Burgard, Sarah, and Lucie Kalousova. 2015. “Effects of the Great Recession: Health and Well-Being.” Annual Review of Sociology, 41: 181-2001. Abstract. DOI.

Owen-Smith, Jason, Natalie C. Cotton-Nessler, and Helena Buhr. 2015. “Network effects on organizational decision-making: Blended social mechanisms and IPO withdrawal.” Social Networks, 41: 1-17. Abstract. DOI.

Needham, Belinda L., David Rehkopf, Nancy Adler, Steven Gregorich, Jue Lin, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, and Elissa S. Epel. 2015. “Leukocyte telomere length and mortality in the national health and nutrition examination survey, 1999-2002.” Epidemiology, 26(4): 528-535. Abstract. DOI.

Thornton, Arland, Shawn F. Dorius, and Jeffrey Swindle. 2015. “Developmental Idealism: The Cultural Foundations of World Development Programs.” Sociology of Development, 1(2). Abstract. DOI.

Bruch, Elizabeth Eve, and Jon Atwell. 2015. “Agent-Based Models in Empirical Social Research.” Sociological Methods & Research, 44(2): 186-221. Abstract. DOI.

Grengs, Joe. 2015. “Nonwork Accessibility as a Social Equity Indicator.” International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 9(1): 1-14. Abstract. DOI.

Starr, Sonja B. 2015. “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases.” American Law and Economics Review, 17(1): 127-159. Abstract. DOI.

Miller, Sarah. 2015. “Information and default in consumer credit markets: Evidence from a natural experiment.” Journal of Financial Intermediation, 24(1): 45-70. Abstract. DOI.

New PSC Predoctoral Trainees

photo of Ariel BinderAriel Binder
PSC Mentor: Bound
Program: Economics
Prior Degrees: B.A. Mathematics, 2011 Williams College
Research Interests: Labor economics, economics of the family, the market for higher education, and structural estimation methods


photo of Shauna DyerShauna Dyer
PSC Mentor: Burgard
Program: Sociology
Prior Degrees: B.A. Social Sciences, 2004 California State University, Chico
Research Interests: Effects of inequality and public policy on educational attainment and health


photo of K. Michael EvangelistK. Michael Evangelist
PSC Mentor: Burgard
Program: Social Work and Sociology
Prior Degrees: M.P.P., 2007 University of Michigan; B.A. , 2000 University of Notre Dame
Research Interests: Social welfare policy, neighborhoods, and labor market inequalities


photo of Yuan HeYuan He
PSC Mentor: Thornton
Program: Sociology
Prior Degrees: Bachelor of Law, 2013 Peking University
Research Interests: Family structure, family values, the impact of ideology, quantitative methods


photo of Jeffrey LockhartJeffrey Lockhart
PSC Mentor: Bruch
Program: Sociology
Prior Degrees: M.Phil. Multi-Disciplinary Gender, 2015 University of Cambridge; M.S. Computer Science, 2014 Fordham University; B.S. Computer Science, 2013 Fordham University
Research Interests: Sexual and gender minority populations; conversations between qualitative and computational research methodologies

photo of Kenra OpatovskyKendra Opatovsky
PSC Mentor: Bruch
Program: Sociology
Prior Degrees: B.A. Sociology, 2011 Colgate University
Research Interests: Race, urban communities, neighborhood change, segregation


photo of Brenden TimpeBrenden Timpe
PSC Mentor: Bound
Program: Economics
Prior Degrees: B.A. Interdiscipinary Programs, 2004 University of North Dakota
Research Interests: Intersection of labor, health, and public economics


New PSC Postdoctoral Trainees

photo of Valentina DuqueValentina Duque
PSC Mentor: Yang
Fellowship: PSC Postdoctoral Fellow; Postdoctoral Fellow, Economics
Prior Degrees: Ph.D. Social Policy, 2015 Columbia University; M.A. Economics, 2008 University of Los Andes; B.A. Civil Engineering, 2004 University of Los Andes
Research Interests: Topics related to human capital formation, health, and development. In particular, she studies the short- and long-term effects of early-life circumstances on individual’s human capital, the role that community factors play in improving levels of health and well-being in both developing and developed countries, and the interaction between early-life conditions and later life human capital investments.

photo of Nicole Kravitz-WirtzNicole Kravitz-Wirtz
PSC Mentor: Morenoff
Fellowship: NIA Postdoctoral Fellow
Prior Degrees: Ph.D. Sociology, 2015 University of Washington; M.P.H. Epidemiology, 2010 UCLA; B.A. Psychology, 2007 UC Berkeley
Research Interests: Social and structural inequalities in neighborhood context and the consequences of such inequality for behavior and health over the life course and across generations. Recent work used the PSID to investigate the effects of prolonged and timing-specific exposure to neighborhood disadvantage throughout childhood and adolescence on self-rated health status, obesity incidence, and smoking behavior in early adulthood, as well as racial disparities therein. Current research examines the long-term effects of neighborhood air pollution on older adult mortality, functional limitations, and chronic disease, as well as the extent to which individual-, household-, and neighborhood-level stressors heighten vulnerability to the impacts of such exposures. She is also collaborating on a longitudinal project exploring how neighborhood environment moderates race and gender disparities in substance use, other mental health outcomes, and mortality among paroled prisoners.

photo of Michael Mueller-SmithMichael Mueller-Smith
PSC Mentors: Smith and Yang
Fellowship: NICHD Postdoctoral Fellow
Prior Degrees: Ph.D. Economics, 2015 Columbia University; M.A. Economics, 2012 Columbia University; B.A. Economics, 2011 Johns Hopkins University
Research Interests: Topics related to the economics of crime, discrimination, and public assistance programs, most notably the wide-ranging effects of incarceration and the lives of sexual minorities. He is currently working on studying the household spillovers of the criminal justice system, felony disenfranchisement and safety net bans resulting from felony drug convictions. In 2017, he will join the Department of Economics at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor.

photo of Lauren SchmitzLauren Schmitz
PSC Mentors: Mitchell, Weir
Fellowship: NIA Postdoctoral Fellow
Prior Degrees: Ph.D. Economics, 2015 New School for Social Research; B.A. Economics, 2008 University of Colorado
Research Interests: Theory and methods in economics, sociology, and genetic epidemiology to explore how biological predispositions interact with economic and social environments to affect health and social mobility across the lifespan. Current research focuses on how economic disadvantage and related social stressors combine with genotype to affect health disparities at older ages. This includes research on the impact of Vietnam-era military service, job loss, and shocks to income on smoking behavior, BMI, and cognition by genetic endowment. In addition, she conducts research on pathways between occupational characteristics, health, and retirement decisions using a data set that links information on job demands from the Occupational Information Network with sociodemographic information in the Health and Retirement Study.

photo of Abigail WeitzmanAbigail Weitzman
PSC Mentor: Barber
Fellowship: NIA Postdoctoral Fellow
Prior Degrees: Ph.D. Sociology, 2015 New York University; M.A. Sociology, 2012 New York University; B.A. Government, 2005 Smith College
Research Interests: The intersection of gender and family demography. In particular, she asks how gender norms shape the timing and nature of pivotal demographic events in people’s lives, and how changes in population characteristics inform household gender dynamics. These questions have led to research on the effects of schooling laws and women’s labor force participation on intimate partner violence in Peru and India; the effects of childhood experiences on young adult women’s fertility desires in the U.S.; and the effects of firstborn sex on parents’ migration and sexual behavior in developing countries. Recent research estimates the effects of compulsory schooling laws on the age structure and gender composition of Peruvian households and the effects of sex composition of offspring on elderly adults’ health in Europe.

Barbara Anderson Named Chair of CSAC

photo of Barbara Anderson

PSC Research Professor Barbara Anderson has been appointed Chair of the 21-member Census Scientific Advisory Committee by U.S. Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson.

The CSAC provides advice on the design, operation, and implementation of Census Bureau programs.

Anderson’s experience spans academic and government agency work here and abroad. She has been a faculty member at Yale and Brown, a visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Study, and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She has conducted extensive research on the relation of population and development and the role of data and data quality in these areas. She has consulted on data and research with the governments of Estonia, China, and South Africa. She has published or edited six books and more than 100 articles and chapters.

“A lot of the challenges that face the Census Bureau are common throughout the world,” Anderson said. “Having international experience in a comparative perspective is helpful in giving advice to my own government.”

PSC Picnic

September 20, 2015, Jeff and Soni Morenoff’s backyard.

Kravtiz-Wirtz; Kusunoki; Weitzman

Duque and husband; Kravitz-Wirtz and husband

Schmitz and Lund

Gillooly, Yang and Hansen

Thornton and wife, Mitchell

Singh and daughter

Bleakley, Yang and Singh

Thornton, Hermalin and wife

Rosales and husband, Nguyen

Soni, Kusunoki, Gillooly, Garrett, and Novak

Zabek, Timpe, Griffith, Schaffa and wife, and Hawkins