PSTC Seminar Room 205
Hui Zheng, Associate Professor of Sociology, Ohio State University
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Unobserved individual frailty is prevalent and consequential in the population pattern of health and mortality. Zheng first investigates the micro mechanisms for mortality selection and another cohort mechanism, cohort evolution, and how these two forces jointly shape the non-crossover cohort age-dependence of mortality pattern regardless of the differential mechanisms of epidemiologic transition in early- and later-transition countries. The mortality crossover in some later transition countries should not have been caused by the mortality selection mechanism, but instead should have been caused by period shocks. Then he investigates how unobserved frailty may further complicate the cohort trend in health disparities and life expectancy. His exercises find, in the absence of change in the individual mortality curve, life expectancy can increase or decrease across birth cohorts due to the increase or decrease in variance of frailty distribution. Life expectancy gap widens across cohorts if the frailty variance increases among the more educated group or decreases among the less educated group. Using the number of diseases before age 17 from PSID data as a proxy for frailty and cohort changes in age-dependent mortality pattern from NHIS data, he finds mortality selection contributes to 19% - 21% of the widening life expectancy gap between these two education groups from the 1950s to 1960s birth cohorts in the United States.
Zheng's research focuses on the health of populations. His work encompasses three interconnected areas: social and policy determinants of health and dynamics of health disparities; population heterogeneity and dynamics of obesity, aging and mortality; medical expansion and population health. His ongoing work addresses (1) the effect of selection bias and unobserved heterogeneity in the process of health production, the trends of aging, obesity, health disparities and life expectancy; (2) the role of cohort forces in life course of health and mortality pattern; (3) the recent trend in mortality and health disparities in the U.S; (4) the effect of sex ratio and marriage market on health; (5) the effect of medical expansion on population health; and (6) workplace and health.
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