Research Projects A-Z

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U

Climate Variability, Migration and Intergenerational Transfers

This project examines the ways in which climate variability influences human behavior, focusing on migration and resource-sharing within families. In this project, VanWey studies how risk affects migrant transfers in Mexico. This contributes to her larger work looking at how migrant transfers can be used not only to increase the financial well-being of sending households, but to transform the nature of local social institutions, leading to new schools and the protection of natural resources.

U.S. 2010: America after the First Decade of the New Century

This project brings together 14 research teams at different universities and several disciplines to analyze changes in U.S. society over the last several decades and particularly post-2000, using trend data from Census 2010, the American Community Survey, and Current Population Survey. Particular emphasis is placed on the relationship between urban change and inequality.

Amalia's Tale and Unequal Access to Health Care

Kertzer’s recent book Amalia’s Tale, which documents the experience of an 19th-century Italian peasant who contracts syphilis while serving as a wet nurse, comes from a very different setting and methodological tradition, but its themes of unequal access to health care and the response of the legal system clearly resonate with the theme of persistent disparities in health and human capital.

Amazonian Deforestation and the Structure of Households

This 15-year project with Emilio Moran looks at how households manage forest resources in Brazil. The project studies the relationships between demographic change, land-use change and agricultural development in three sites in the Brazilian Amazon. Central to her work is the question of how the changing availability of family labor affects the extent to which farmers clear existing forestland. Recent work suggests that the process of learning and specialization in different activities also helps to explain the variation and timing of land acquisition and forest clearing.

AOC: Disaster, Resilience and the Built Environment on the Gulf Coast

Logan looks broadly at the impacts of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast from 1950-2005, questioning whether their effects on population and employment are long-term or short-lived and asking which population groups are more vulnerable to damage and displacement. A significant barrier to such analysis is the lack of detailed information on the actual wind damage from historical hurricanes. Logan and Zengwang Xu examine the potential for hurricane wind models to be used as a basis for filling this important data need.

Bank Deregulation and the Racial Wage Gap

Rubinstein examines the effects of bank deregulation on black-white wage differentials. As would be predicted by a model in which discriminating employers pay a cost in terms of profitability because they only hire white workers, he finds that bank deregulation increased business startups and reduced the racial wage gap.

Blood of the Innocents: Stigma and the Unintended Consequences of Biomedical Interventions for HIV-Positive Children in Botswana

This project traces some of the sociocultural repercussions of Botswana’s highly successful Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program and nationwide antiretroviral drug rollout. The project asks why stigma against HIV-positive children appears to be increasing in response to highly effective treatment and prevention efforts (which global health experts predict should lead to decreased stigma).

Brown v. Board of Education at 50: Desegregation Orders and Public School Integration

Logan in studying trends in school segregation since 1970 shows that the substantial desegregation in the 1970s did not continue after 1980. He is also evaluating the relationship between racial and class segregation and the disproportionate exposure of minority students to subpar schools.

C8 and Reproductive and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes

This collaborative project will analyze the relationship between C8 (perflourooctonoic acid) and reproductive health outcomes, including miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, birth defects, and neurodevelopmental deficits among residents of West Virginia and Ohio who had elevated exposure resulting from environmental contamination from a chemical plant.

Caste Politics and Local Election Outcomes in Rural India

Munshi uses data from a village in India to examine the role of caste politics in determining local election outcomes in rural India and how these elections affect the provision of basic services, including lighting and sanitation. He finds that if an ethnic group in a particular political unit is sufficiently large it can solve political commitment problems that might otherwise cause people to vote for candidates who on average share their views, but are not otherwise qualified or capable.

Changes in Neighborhood Composition and their Effects on Children

With Robert Mare, Jackson considers the relative importance of changes in neighborhood quality that occur because of families’ mobility vs. within-neighborhood processes of change.  Preliminary results are consistent with the idea that there are important differences in the effects of each process on children’s welfare.

Children's Health Disparities in the U.S. and U.K.: The Role of the Family

This study uses longitudinal data from the U.S. and the U.K. to examine social disparities in children’s health in the two countries, with a focus on early and middle childhood.  Of particular interest are how health patterns among children with migration backgrounds change over time; how any changes are related to changing family environments; and whether there are meaningful cross-national differences in these relationships.  In related work, Jackson examines U.S.

Children’s Health and Nutrition, Adult Outcomes & Mobility

Pitt uses innovative data methods to consider environmental-health issues in Bangladesh. This project assembles, collects and analyzes multiple rounds of survey data from Bangladesh, providing family-based and individual panel information on the long-term health and productivity effects of childhood nutritional intakes, indoor air pollution, and health interventions over a 25-year span. As part of a long-term longitudinal survey on nutrition and economic activity he has collected, among other things, toenails, which provide a record of exposure to arsenic.

Commitment Devices in Long-Term Relationships

In this project, Aizer and Dal Bó find that policies that compel prosecution even if the victim later wishes to drop charges result in an increase in reporting and a decrease in the number of men murdered by intimates. These surprising results are shown to be implications of a model in which victims have time-inconsistent preferences.

Conditional Cash Transfers to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections in Mexico

This project evaluates conditional economic incentives for the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in high-risk populations in Mexico. The study focuses on willingness to accept cash transfers conditional on being free of sexually transmitted infections in key populations in Mexico, including men who have sex with men in Mexico City. Involved in this project is contingency evaluation techniques; econometric analyses, and cost effectiveness evaluation.

Consequences of Segregation and Health Outcomes in the American South

Chay is engaged in research that empirically investigates the consequences of segregation (and desegregation) in the American South for health outcomes and human capital formation. He finds that the 1946 Hospital Act that led to new hospitals for whites improved health among whites only. The introduction of the Civil Rights Act, which helped provide access to hospitals for blacks, led to substantial relative reductions in black infant mortality.

Designing, Implementing, and Validating the Next Generation of Teacher Evaluations

In this two year project Tyler will conduct a largely qualitative study of the constraints and opportunities that arise when a state or urban school districts attempt to design and implement a new and more rigorous teacher evaluation system.

Dowry and Marriage Age in India

Sautmann looks at the connection between population growth, age at marriage and dowry in India. Using an economic framework that incorporates search frictions she finds evidence for the so-called marriage squeeze hypothesis, the theory that population growth together with a large age difference at marriage can cause a surplus of women and lead to increased dowry payments.

Environmental Outcomes in Mexico and Brazil

Nagavarapu has interdisciplinary projects that examine environmental outcomes in Mexico and Brazil. In Brazil, he looks at the relationship between changes in agricultural prices, wages and forest cover with particular focus on the issue of uses of sugar cane for ethanol. In Mexico, he works with marine biologists Heather Leslie and Sheila Walsh to look at the management of fisheries resources. In particular, the team is examining the extent to which cooperatives can more effectively manage fishing resources through establishment of rights over certain fishing grounds.

Estimating the Impact of Housing Subsidies on Family Outcomes: Evidence from Mexico’s Housing Subsidy Programs

This project studies the effects of the housing subsidy program in Mexico, with particular focus on the notion that increased access to housing influences labor force and civic participation as well as measures of family health and well-being. Using a unique administrative data set, Hastings estimates the impact that home ownership has on economic outcomes such as labor-market stability, civic participation, and investment in savings and childhood education.

Evaluating the Effects of Large-Scale Health Interventions in Developing Countries: The Zambian Malaria Initiative

In a separate research project, Weil and his co-authors study the Zambian Malaria Initiative. Combining data from a number of sources, they examine the speed and geographic pattern of the decline in malaria mortality and morbidity, and assess the effectiveness of different health interventions, such as bed nets and indoor spraying.

Explaining Very Low Fertility in Italy

Kertzer and White employed innovative multidisciplinary methodology and cutting-edge theory to seek a better explanation for very low fertility. They focused on Italy, a country that in the 1990s had the lowest fertility in the world, and which today has among the very lowest. Their findings support the views that both women’s employment and a transition towards secular values explains significant fertility variation at the individual level in Italy; however, there remains substantial evidence of the kind of regional grouping in fertility that is often attributed to ideational change.

Family Organization and Child Well-being in Southern Africa

This research investigates the relationship between family organization and child well-being in Southern Africa, a region with substantial variation and change in children's living arrangements due to the current HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Food Assistance and Policy Options in India

Nagavarapu initiated an innovative project along with one of Andrew Foster’s former students on the public distribution system that allocates food rations to the Indian poor. Preliminary work provides a strong circumstantial case that the rations of individuals with low social influence are being diverted by shopkeepers to the black market. Nagavarapu is now working with an NGO that is implementing a randomized trial that incorporates an alternative source of supply for these rations.

Gender Inequality in China

PSTC researcher Short joins Juhua Yang of People’s University in Beijing to examine patterns of housework among husbands and wives in China over the period 1989 to 2006.  They find that as of 2006, Chinese wives on average do five times more housework than their husbands, a gender difference that is little changed since 1989.  This study suggests that highly asymmetric housework arrangements can be maintained in settings with high female labor force participation.

Genome-Wide Association Studies of Adiposity in Samoans

McGarvey examines the role of genetic variation in influencing the extent of obesity in Samoa. In-depth dietary, physical activity, socio-demographic and village environmental information is collected from more than 3,000 adult Samoans residing throughout the developing country of Samoa. Genome scan methods will be used to identify across the whole genome susceptibility loci for obesity in this population.

Geography, Diversity and the Origins of the Wealth of Nations

In work with a former student, they test the hypothesis that societies that are either too cohesive or too diverse will grow more slowly than those with an optimal intermediate level of diversity. It is tested using the fact that the process of human migration out of Africa created substantial variation in genetic diversity across the globe, with those populations that are furthest from Africa being more homogenous. The evidence is supportive of the optimal diversity hypothesis and robust to consideration of other hypotheses such as those related to climate or opportunities for trade.

Global Health Framework at Brown University

This education grant will increase training and research opportunities in global health for Brown University students and faculty.

Governance and Inequality in Indian Cities

Patrick Heller, Ashutosh Varshney (Brown University)

Indian cities face tremendous challenges of governance because of entrenched inequalities and accelerating urban migration. Yet the social science literature on urban governance in India is conspicuous by its absence. This interdisciplinary team proposes to fill this gap through a long-term research project that is motivated by three fundamental questions. First, what are the predominant patterns of inequality in urban India and how is inequality structured? Second, how are Indian cities governed and how do these patterns of governance both reflect and impact patterns of inequality?

Great Expectations: Humanitarianism and the Invention of AIDS Orphans in Botswana

Dahl’s anthropological research in Botswana explores the social effects of international humanitarian organizations' efforts to provide aid during the HIV pandemic, with particular focus on programs that support orphaned children. She also finds a significant tradeoff associated with the provision of aid. In particular, aid workers provide an alternative and much needed source of authority and nurture for orphans; but in so doing the workers erode the traditional kin-network as an alternative source of care giving.

Groundwater and Land Management in Rural India

Foster has a series of projects on groundwater in rural India that also focus on issues of scale in agriculture. A central question in this body of work is how the spatial distribution of the population affects the rate of aquifer depletion. In joint work with a former student he finds surprisingly that water markets are more likely to arise in areas where water is not scarce. He also finds that whether water buying or selling increases or decreases aquifer depletion depends in part on the relative sizes of neighboring farms.

Health and Air Quality Regulation in Developing Countries

Foster has several projects looking at the relationship between air quality and health. In Delhi, India, he has a project that was initially directed at identifying the effects of a court mandate to enforce vehicle regulations with regard to the use of compressed natural gas (CNG). This study involved the systematic collection of ground data on air quality in combination with a household-level survey that included spirometry-based measures of respiratory health.

HIV-1 Drug Resistance in Different SubTypes

For this study of drug resistance to HIV, Hogan is providing biostatistical expertise and numerical programming.  In particular, his expertise will assist in characterizing geographic variation in antiviral therapy resistance.

Household Wellbeing in Frontier Contexts: Integrating Capitals, Returns, and Livelihoods

Hull is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of household well-being, particularly in smallholder frontier contexts.

How Health Improvements Affect Economic Activity

Weil’s recent research focuses on how changes in health and fertility affect economic growth in the setting of developing countries. Regarding health, he has examined how improvements in overall health, as proxied by life expectancy, as well as control of specific diseases (malaria and tuberculosis) feeds through channels such as worker productivity, human capital accumulation, and population age structure to effect the level of income per capita.

How Teachers Use Data to Inform and Improve Their Practice

Tyler uses objective data in the form of automatically generated web logs to examine how much and in what ways teachers view student performance data when it is presented to them in a web-based application. This work also examines the extent to which the use of web-based student data is related to student test score growth.

Human Trafficking Intervention and Migration Management in Nigeria

This project, which seeks to identify connections between human trafficking and migration, is part of Smith’s collection of work studying the effects of migration on the sexual behavior of young rural-urban migrants in Nigeria. Working with his doctoral student, this project will be conducted over 12 months in Nigeria, using the ethnographic methods of participant observation, self-reporting, and formal and informal interviews.

Hurricane Katrina and the Built Environment: Spatial and Social Impacts

The complex relationship between demographic processes, spatial segregation, and inequality is evident in work by Logan on the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. Logan finds that primarily black neighborhoods within the city limits were more likely to be damaged and less likely to be rebuilt than were otherwise similar neighborhoods.

Identity and Mobility: Historical Fractionalization, Parochial Institutions, and Occupational Choice in the American Midwest", 

Munshi examines the long-term effects of fractionalization arising from parochial institutions in the American Midwest. Individuals born in counties with greater ethnic fractionalization in 1860 are today more likely to participate in institutions such as churches and parochial schools and less likely to select into mobile skilled occupations.

Immigration and Ethnicity


White's longtime research on immigrant adaptation led to the publication (with Jennifer E. Glick) of Achieving Anew: How New Immigrants Do in American Schools, Jobs, and Neighborhoods (Russell Sage Foundation, 2009), which was awarded the 2010 Otis Dudley Duncan (Book) Prize from the Population Section of the American Sociological Association. 

Implementing School Choice in Charlotte, NC

Schooling choice can lead to persistent disparities if individuals in different groups have different levels of access to good schools or make different types of decisions about which schools to attend. This project investigates impacts on student outcomes, competitiveness and racial segregation as a result of the implementation of a new public-school choice system that was first approved in December 2001 by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. In this study, Hastings looks at the consequences of winning one’s first choice school in a choice lottery.

Incorporating Immigrants and Minorities into Late-19th-Century

This project studies racial and ethnic differentiation in U.S. cities in 1880, with a particular emphasis on the relationships between people and places. Using geocoded data from the 1880 Census, Logan was able to measure, for example, the ethnic composition of one’s neighbors at the level of the household and to group proximate households with similar “neighborhoods” into an overall neighborhood.

Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy

Motivated by Foster’s previous work examining the relation between democratization, allocation of public goods, and land ownership, this study will use experimental economics to determine whether the same policies would have a different effect if implemented democratically or by fiat.

Integrated Graduate Education and Training Grant (IGERT) on Inequality in the Developing World

This interdisciplinary training and research program brings together Brown University and four partner institutions in Brazil, China, India and South Africa, to examine inequality in the developing world. It aims to help resolve one of the most crucial, but intractable, problems of the twenty-first century: the high levels of inequality in many developing countries.  The project is housed at the Watson Institute at Brown.

Land Use, Ecosystem Services and the Fate of Marginal Lands in a Globalized World

One of humanity's greatest contemporary challenges is producing enough food to sustain human populations in developing regions while preserving naturally functioning habitats that provide key ecosystem services such as clean drinking water, biodiversity, carbon storage, and climate moderation. This project, which is funded by NSF’s Partnerships for International Research and Education Program, leverages substantial existing investments in Africa by the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) to mount an international and interdisciplinary study of this great challenge.

Life Projects and Antiretroviral Therapy: The Social Impacts of Scale-up

This is a planning grant in which Smith follows up on work that chronicles the transition toward modern marriage in Nigeria and finds that the associated ideals of morality make the discussion of, and thus protection against, risky sexual behavior more difficult than may have been the case in the past.

Long-Term Effects of the Mother's Pension Program on Adult Outcomes

Aizer is looking at the long-run effects of the Mother’s Pension program, which was established as early as 1911 in some states, and is the first government-sponsored welfare program in the U.S. It was designed to improve the conditions of young children that had become dependent through the loss or disability of the breadwinner. Because of the program’s historical nature, she can investigate the long-term effects of cash transfers to low-income families on a variety of outcomes, including educational attainment and earnings.

Marriage and Fertility in Occupied Palestine

D. Hogan examines health effects of the 2008-2009 Gaza Strip attack and changes in marriage and fertility in occupied Palestine.

Maternal Smoking Behavior and Peer Effects

Aizer, along with Laura Stroud in Community Health, is examining the role of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on maternal smoking in changing smoking behavior during pregnancy and how these changes spread across educational groups. Their results suggest that not only were the educated more responsive to the initial announcement but, consistent with a peer-effects model, smoking reductions among the educated were more dramatic in areas of high educational segregation.

Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space

In a joint paper with Henderson and a current student, Weil establishes that satellite-based images can be a useful measure of local development, thus making it possible to track growth effects of regional variation in health improvements.

Measuring Social Connection and Children’s Well-Being using Multiple Data Sources

This comprehensive study measures social support systems of children in a rural area of South Africa.  Designed to address the gaps left by standard census and survey tools, it combines intensive ethnographic data with longitudinal demographic data from the Agincourt Demographic Surveillance System (DSS). The ethnographic data can identify instances of support and relate these to information from the household database. The value of this approach is then assessed by measuring the relationship between the resulting measures of social support and child outcomes.

Measuring the Social and Environmental Impact of the UHE Belo Monte Dam Complex in Pará, Brazil

In this interdisciplinary and collaborative project, VanWey coordinates a team that includes Andrew Foster and other colleagues from Brown, along with researchers from the Woods Hole Research Center, and Brazilian colleagues from the University of Campinas and the University of São Paulo.  The team will be evaluating the state of the Xingu River near Altamira, Pará, Brazil, before construction begins on what will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric project.

Mexican Laborers in the U.S. and Mexican Labor Market

Labor-market migration can transform individuals as they develop new skills that may or may not be marketable at home. Lindstrom examines this issue in the context of temporary Mexican immigrants to the U.S. Consistent with the literature on investment migration there is evidence that migrants return with financial capital that can be translated into self-employment; however, it appears that the Mexican labor market does not reward U.S. labor-market experience.

Migration and HIV in South Africa

This study examined the role of migration or human population movement in the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in South Africa.  Funded by the Welcome Trust, this was a 3-year cohort study with biological (HIV and STI) and behavioral outcomes, among migrant men and their rural partners, and non-migrant men and their rural partners.

Migration, HIV, and Socioeconomic Change in South Africa

This pilot investigation will address a significant AIDS-related public health issue in South Africa: the relationship between human geographic mobility and risk for disease transmission. The project uses existing data and conducts a feasibility study. It brings demographic methods and field research, coupled with a refined understanding of human geographic mobility and health transition to the present public-health concern of HIV transmission and AIDS mortality.

Neuromarkers of Age-Related Cognitive Decline

J. Hogan is providing biostatistical expertise on this project, designed to determine neuroimaging and genetic biomarkers of cognitive decline.

Orphaned & Separated Children’s Assessment Related to their Health & Well-Being

J. Hogan is providing biostatistics expertise on this project, which examines the effects of alternative modes of care such as community-based programs, detention centers, and homes run by NGOs for children in Western Kenya who have been orphaned as a result of AIDS.

Partnership in Improving Adolescent Reproductive Health in Ethiopia

This project focuses on policy-relevant research on adolescent life, physical and reproductive health, and risk taking, with the goal of improving the lives of the next generation of Ethiopian citizens. Partnering U.S. and Ethiopian researchers from Brown, Emory, Jimma, and Haramaya Universities allows the project to improve long-term research capacity through enhanced training programs and communication networks and fostering jointly published scientific and policy papers.

Pentecostalism and AIDS in Nigeria

Smith examines the response of Nigerian Pentecostal churches to the AIDS epidemic, focusing on the intersection between religion and health and offering deeper understandings of the popularity, meanings, and wider societal effects of the fastest-growing religion in Africa's most populous nation.

Population and Economic Recovery in Coastal Aceh: Aid and Village Institutions

This project focuses on coastal villages in post-tsunami Indonesia, examining the ability of local political leaders to carry out public projects through “volunteer work days.” It uses a panel data set containing rich detail on local economic and political institutions, interaction of villages with external institutions, population change, and trauma suffered. Pre-existing social capital, the number of aid projects and the method of aid delivery all strongly affect village volunteerism in 2007, but many effects weakened by 2009.

Population Control and Democratic Governance

Henderson, in work with a former student, looks at the issue of spatial exclusionary policies as a mechanism of population control. He argues that the political elite deliberately used the under provision of basic water and sanitation facilities in poor areas to suppress migration. Consistent with this theory, there was an increase in the equality of access to such services in large and wealthy cities following the transition to local democratic governance.

Postsecondary Outcomes for Latino Youths

This project examines the ways in which individual, family, and school factors influence the postsecondary choices of Hispanic adolescents—a group whose educational attainment trends threaten to prepare them primarily for lower-skill and lower-wage jobs as adults, resulting in negative health and socioeconomic implications for the population as a whole. Cho and Rivas analyze the relationships of Hispanic youths’ individual motivations and family and school resources with their postsecondary choices.

Prenatal Conditions and Postnatal Environments: Impact on Future Economic Status

Aizer (in collaboration with Laura Stroud and Stephen Buka in Community Health) explores the effects of maternal stress on child outcomes using a unique longitudinal data set. She finds that cortisol levels of low SES mothers are both higher on average and more variable, suggesting that prenatal stress may play an important role in explaining why relatively few children born into poverty are able to escape it as adults.

Race, Incarceration and American Values

High rates of incarceration are in part a consequence of persistent inequality and may have long-term impacts on economic and social well-being for individuals and communities. Loury recently focused on the rise in rates of incarceration, particularly among African Americans. In his recent book, Race, Incarceration and American Values: The Tanner Lectures, he argues that the disproportionately black and brown prison populations are the victims of civil-rights opponents who successfully moved the country's race dialogue to a seemingly race-neutral concern over crime.

Racial Interactions and Urban Decentralization

In U.S. cities, there are important relationships between segregation and public service delivery. Baum-Snow examines the role of urban school desegregation in determining processes of ethnic groupings. He shows that desegregation, in addition to leading to substantial outmigration from urban districts by whites, tended to reduce outmigration among blacks while also reducing private school enrollment among blacks in the South.  Because of these countervailing forces, school desegregation was not an important driver of urban population decentralization in the United States.

Rates and Drivers of Land Use Land Cover Change in the Agricultural Frontier of Mato Grosso, Brazil

In this new project, VanWey joins Brown Geosciences Professor John Mustard in leading a team of researchers studying agricultural development in Brazil.  The project focuses on the agricultural frontier of Mato Grosso, where there are not only rapid and large-scale land transformations (ex from natural land cover to agriculture, and from pasture to crop), but also the most rapid population growth in the country, the highest human development index in the country, and dramatic economic growth.

Remaking the Apartheid City

Using GIS techniques, South African Census data and qualitative fieldwork, this project explores the economic and social reconfiguration of the post-apartheid city. The spatial engineering of apartheid resulted in the concentration of public services and infrastructure, such as access to electricity, trash collection, schools, and paved roads in the sections of cities designated as white under the Group Areas Act. Efforts to undo these inequalities have been a focus of all levels of post-apartheid government.

SAFEHAVEN: Decision Support for Nursing Home Resident Disaster Evacuations

Hurricanes have a devastating effect on nursing home residents, as they may be adversely affected either by being transferred to another setting or by sheltering in place. Using existing nursing-home data from multiple sources, Logan and his collaborator, Vincent Mor, seek to understand the consequences of hurricanes and evacuation decisions, providing the first evidence base to inform the creation of evacuation guidelines.

Shaping Long-Term Care in America

Foster, along with a former student, evaluates how race-based preferences and geographical distance affect nursing home sorting. He finds that the resulting segregation exacerbates racial disparities in the quality of nursing-home care. In addition to peer-reviewed academic papers, this project resulted in a repository of long-term care data and state policies, and a Web site providing access to policies, provider data, and a quality-based map of LTC providers by location.

Social Inequalities: The Intertwining of Human Difference and Environments

Recent advances in genomic science, and understandings of biological difference, present new research opportunity in regard to social inequality.  In particular, researchers can consider more explicitly whether and how human physiology is relevant to institutional and structural explanations of inequality.  This grant supports the PI in development of this line of inquiry through funding training in relevant areas of inquiry outside of sociology.

Study of ARIS Usage and Lessons from the ARIS-LOCAL Pilot Phase

Tyler uses objective data in the form of automatically generated web logs to examine how much and in what ways teachers in the New York City school system use ARIS, an online tool designed to deliver student information and test data to teachers in order to inform and improve instructional practice. The study will also examine the extent to which usage is associated with student achievement and school performance.

Teacher Evaluation and Measures of Teacher Effectiveness

Tyler examines the extent to which various classroom practices result in student test score growth and the extent to which going through a rigorous classroom-observation evaluation system impacts teacher effectiveness.

The Consequences of the Great Migration for Blacks in the U.S.

Kaivan Munshi and Chay are examining how the consequences of the Great Migration for blacks moving to northern cities depended in part on the presence of an effective civic culture and network support in their respective sending areas. They note that there was substantial variation across sending areas in the density of the black population and that a certain threshold of density was necessary to develop an effective social network prior to migration.

The Cultural Context of Infertility in Southern Nigeria: Meanings, Consequences and Coping Mechanisms

Hollos examines the well-being and social relations of sub-fertile or infertile women in Nigeria.  Two communities are compared: one that is strictly patrilineal versus one that has a mix of patri- and matrilineal practices.  While both sets of women face challenges and are, for example, more likely to be divorced from their first husband than their fertile counterparts, the women in the mixed village have better sources of support. Sub-fertile or infertile women in the patrilineal villages are more likely to migrate, shift occupations, and accumulate wealth.

The Distribution of Health Insurance in China, 1997-2006

Short and H. Xu, PSTC graduate trainee, examine disparities in health insurance across rural and urban China over the 1997-2006 period. Despite similar levels of health insurance coverage in urban and rural areas by 2006, differences in outpatient and inpatient reimbursement rates suggest continued urban advantage.

The Economic Determinants of Domestic Violence

Aizer applies economic models of bargaining and econometric techniques to estimate the causes and consequences of domestic violence. Aizer shows that there is a negative causal relationship between violence during pregnancy and newborn health, exploiting for identification variation in the enforcement of laws against domestic violence. Her findings show that a decrease in the male-female wage gap can improve the health of women via reductions in violence.

The Effect of Evaluation on Teacher Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-career Teachers

Tyler uses rich, longitudinal data from the Cincinnati Public School system to examine the extent to which going through Cincinnati’s rigorous teacher evaluation program increases teacher effectiveness as measured by the ability to increase student test score gains.

The Effects of Childhood Health on Social Inequality

Interested in the early origins of inequality and the role of child health in the production of social inequality, Jackson uses longitudinal data from the U.S. and the United Kingdom to study child health as a source of compounding disadvantage in skill development during the school years. A recent paper examines health as a source of cumulative disadvantage in skill development, focusing in particular on whether the timing and persistence of poor health have a lasting impact.

The Epidemiology of Hospitalized Postpartum Depression

In this project, Savitz will analyze data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS), which covers all hospitalizations in New York State. By linking delivery and depression hospital-discharge records, he can estimate the prevalence and incidence of severe postpartum depression on more than 1.1 million births. Savitz and his collaborators will address demographic, social, and medical predictors of postpartum depression, and evaluate the relationship with infant health measures and pregnancy complications.

The Family Consequences of Child Disability

Hogan studies the effects of child disability on caregivers, with particular focus on the increased costs that families must bear when a severely disabled child is not institutionalized. The bottom line of this body of research is that while there has been a long-term trend to reduce institutionalization of severely disabled children, the family bears much of the cost.

The National Children’s Study (Providence County, RI and Bristol County, MA)

PSTC researchers Short and Logan join Principal Investigator Buka to provide the Providence County, RI and Bristol County, MA components of the National Children’s Survey. The study will examine the effects of environmental influences on the health and development of more than 100,000 children across the U.S., following them from before birth until age 21. The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children.

The New England Family Study: Fifty Year Post-Perinatal Follow-up for Life Course Effects on Aging

Loucks is using a 50-year follow-up of the New England Family Study to explore how conditions during pregnancy and early life may impact epigenetic alterations and aging processes that could subsequently appear in midlife as atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, adiposity and cognitive decline. During this project, Loucks will assess the aging processes in 500 of the Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP) participants born in 1959-1966 to explore the life course effects on aging.

Transnational Adoptees and Migrants: From Peru to Spain

This project compares the children of Peruvian immigrants to Spain with adopted Peruvian children in Spain to discover meaningful contrasts and similarities between the two groups, leading to a better understanding of both adoption and migration.

Understanding the City Size Wage Gap

In 2000, hourly wages of prime-age men were 31% higher in metropolitan areas of over 2.5 million people than those of less than 100,000 people. Moreover, the relationship between wages and population monotonically increases by about 1 percentage point for each additional 100,000 in population over the full range of metropolitan area size. The existence of this city-size wage gap implies that workers are more productive in larger cities. Since 1980, a strong positive monotonic relationship between city size and wage inequality has also emerged.

Urban Life among Youth in Kisumu

Eliya Zulu (African Institute for Development Policy), Shelley Clark (McGill University)

This project aims to improve methods of data collection for sexual behavior among young men and women in urban Kisumu, Kenya. Using a life course approach, the project constructs retrospective relationship histories for a random sample of 1,275 youth ages 18-24 and interviews these respondents' marital and nonmarital sexual partners to create a unique matched partner sample. Fieldwork was conducted in spring and summer 2007.

Interview using the Relationship History Calendar.Interview using the Relationship History Calendar.

Urban Studies and Demography of China

In China, controls on movement of people to urban areas have been more explicit, as they were in apartheid South Africa. This control has altered the trajectory of these cities and created an underclass without full access to relevant service. Logan is building on a long history of work examining population distribution and stratification in Chinese cities. His recent work uses both original surveys and Chinese census microdata to evaluate residential restructuring, disparities in access to housing between local urbanites and migrants, and the development of private housing markets.

Urban Transportation and Economic Activity

Baum-Snow evaluates the role that transportation infrastructure plays in the spatial organization of population and economic activity. He investigates how the expansion of urban highway networks has led to decentralization of people and firms, and changed the spatial distribution of commutes in U.S. metropolitan areas. He has also evaluated the extent to which urban rail transit expansions have led to changes in commuting patterns and undertaken welfare analysis of such projects.

Urban Transportation, Land Use, and Growth: Evidence from China, 1995-2010

This project, focusing on China, studies the societal impacts of urban highway and rail infrastructure investments, the biggest (non-defense) public sector investment a country makes. By assembling data on key instrumental variables and policy contexts, Henderson estimates how these choices affect: 1) city population, employment, and GDP growth; 2) urban form, including the spread of developed land by use; 3) environmental outcomes; and 4) urban land-use patterns across residential, commercial, mixed and industrial categories.

Urbanization in Ghana and Kenya

In this new project, White will use geocoded DHS microdata to examine neighborhood-level disparities in health and socio-economic conditions and their relationship to urbanization in Ghana and Kenya. This work will provide insight into the relative importance of better provision of public health infrastructure in urban areas versus greater variation in access to resources due to income variation or to exclusionary policies in urban areas.

Using Community Participation to Improve the Health System in South India

Co-directors with studentsCo-directors with studentsAt the heart of this project on tuberculosis treatment in India is the simple and practical question of whether community volunteers can be used instead of professional monitors to ensure drug-therapy compliance; but the investigators use this idea in order to explore broader social science questions, including the extent to which caste membership creates effective generalized (as opposed to specific) reciprocity among its members.