Penn Population Studies Centers

The Population Studies Center (PSC) at the University of Pennsylvania has fostered research and training in population since its founding in 1962. The PSC has received support from a number of federal and private funding sources since its inception, including support from the NICHD. PSC Research Associates come from six schools at Penn and many different academic departments including, Sociology, Economics, Business, Nursing, and Medicine. The scale of research at the Population Studies Center ranges from macroeconomics and macro demography to human genetics and focus on understanding the dynamics of human populations and our research falls into the following research themes: New Dynamics of Population Diversity, Demography, Human Resources and Endowments, International Population Research and New Directions in Population Research. The PSC also houses the Graduate Group in Demography which trains Ph.D. students in Demography.   

The Population Aging Research Center (PARC) at the University of Pennsylvania has over 25 years of experience of creating the right setting for interdisciplinary research on the demography and economics of aging, including a focus on diverse and often underrepresented populations domestically and globally. PARC was established in 1994 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. The overall research themes of PARC reflect the interests and expertise of our research associates. These include: Health Care and Long-Term Care in Older Adults, Cognition and Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD), Health Disparities in Aging, Early Life-Conditions and Older Adult Health, Behavior and Well-Being, and Global Aging and Health. PARC sponsors an annual Quartet Pilot Project Competition with 3 other centers at Penn, and a weekly seminar series in conjunction with the Population Studies Center, the Penn Population Studies Colloquium.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 364
  • Publication
    Is the Growing Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in India Preventable?
    (2024-06-19) Gaiha, Raghav; Kulkarni, Vani S.; Unnikrishnan, Vidhya
    Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) morbidity and mortality as shares of total morbidity and mortality have risen steadily in India and projected to surge rapidly. In 1990, NCDs accounted for 40% of all Indian mortality and are now projected to account for three quarters of all deaths by 2030. Currently, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory illness, and diabetes are the leading causes of death in India, accounting for almost 50% of all deaths. Underlying these rising shares are growing risks that are common to several NCDs. NCDs are chronic in nature and take a long time to develop. They are linked to aging and affluence and have replaced infectious diseases and malnutrition as the dominant causes of ill health and death in much of the world including India. Some NCDs cause others and create clusters of co-morbid conditions (e.g., diabetes can lead to kidney failure and blindness). Old-age morbidity is a rapidly worsening curse in India. The swift descent of the elderly in India (60 years +) into non-communicable diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes) could have disastrous consequences in terms of impoverishment of families, excess mortality, lowering of investment and deceleration of economic growth. Indeed, the government must deal simultaneously with the rising fiscal burden of NCDs and substantial burden of infectious diseases. The present study seeks to answer three questions: Why has the prevalence of two NCDs, diabetes and heart diseases risen in recent years? Given the surge in these diseases, whether social protection policies and restructuring of medical services can mitigate such surges in the near future? A related but equally important concern is whether lifestyle and dietary changes could be induced to further prevent the rising burden of these NCDs. Our analysis is based on the only all-India panel survey-India Human Development survey that covers 2005 and 2012. This survey was conducted jointly by University of Maryland and National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi. A robust econometric methodology-specifically, 2SLS- is used to address the endogeneity of key explanatory variables. The results here stress the need to make sure that pension and healthcare reforms are accompanied by greater awareness, expansion of old age pensions and public hospitals, and effective regulation of both public and private hospitals. Key words: NCDs, Diabetes, Heart diseases, Old age and other pensions, Hospitals, India
  • Publication
    Infant Mortality Expectation and Fertility Choice in Rural Malawi
    (2024-06) Delavande, Adeline; Kohler, Hans-Peter; Vergili, Ali
    For decades, population research has been interested in the complex relationship between child mortality and fertility, with a key focus on identifying replacement behavior (fertility response to experienced child mortality) and hoarding behavior (fertility response to expected child mortality). Using unique data from the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH), we investigate the impact of individual-specific subjective infant mortality expectations on fertility choice. We instrument the potentially endogenous infant mortality expectations with the average of parents’ ratings of children’s health to address a potentially omitted variable bias such as parental taste for health. Consistent with the hoarding mechanism, we find that a 10 percentage point decrease in infant mortality expectations leads to a 14 percentage point decrease in the propensity to have a child in the next 2 years from a baseline propensity of 43%.
  • Publication
    The Household Equipment Revolution
    (2024-05-10) Adamopoulou, Effrosyni; Greenwood, Jeremy; Guner, Nezih
    A brief historical overview of the household equipment revolution and the women who transformed the home in Germany and the United States.
  • Publication
    Food Coma is Real: The Effect of Digestive Fatigue on Adolescents' Cognitive Performance
    (2024-04-12) Hervé, Justine; Mani, Subha; Behrman, Jere; Laxminarayan, Ramanan; Arindam, Nandi
    Food coma, also known as postprandial somnolence, is a commonly cited reason for experiencing reduced alertness during mid-afternoon worldwide. By using exogenous variation in the timing of tests and, hence, by extension, plausibly exogenous variation in the temporal distance between an individual’s last meal and the time of test, we examine the causal impact of postprandial somnolence on cognitive capacities. Analyzing novel time use data on ∼ 4,600 Indian adolescents and young adults, we find that testing within an hour after a meal reduces test-takers’ scores on English, native language, math, and Raven’s tests by 8, 8, 8, and 16 percent, respectively, compared to test-takers who took the tests more than an hour after their meal. We further find that the negative effect of postprandial somnolence on cognition operates through increased feelings of fatigue and depletion of cognitive resources that become more pronounced while dealing with more challenging test questions.
  • Publication
    Communication with Kin in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    (2023-09-06) Reed, Megan N.; Li, Linda; Pesando, Luca Maria; Harris, Lauren E.; Furstenberg, Frank F.; Teitler, Julien O.
    This study investigates patterns of communication among non-coresident kin in the aftermath of a crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – focusing on a representative sample of New York City residents from the Poverty Tracker survey. Over half of New Yorkers spoke to their non-coresident family members several times a week during the pandemic and nearly half reported that their communication with non-coresident kin increased since March 2020. Extended kin proved to be important with 27.57% of respondents reporting that they increased communication with at least one extended family member. However, the kin type that New Yorkers were most likely to report increased communication with were siblings, revealing the importance of these ties during times of crisis. Communication with kin varied by sociodemographic characteristics. Women spoke with family members outside of their household more frequently and had higher odds of reporting that their communication increased. There was little support for the oft-stated premise that disadvantaged families by race or social class display greater patterns of kin engagement. In fact, the findings point to the opposite conclusion that families with greater economic resources generally engage with both their nuclear and extended kin more frequently, illuminating patterns of inequality in access to kin resources that may extend well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this study sheds light on an important yet oft-neglected driver of intra- and inter-generational inequalities, namely access to kin ties as a form of social capital to be activated and leveraged when need arises.
  • Publication
    Busy Bees: How Does Conscientiousness Affect Labor Market Outcomes?
    (2024-02-07) Hervé, Justine; Purcell, Helene; Mani, Subha
    Personality traits play an important role in shaping labor market outcomes, but the associated behaviors that lead to these differences are understudied. In this paper, we examine the returns to the Big Five personality traits as well as the mechanisms through which personality affects employment and earnings. We find conscientiousness to be a significant predictor of both employment and earnings. We further show that the association between conscientiousness and earnings operates primarily through one specific behavior, namely, higher work intensity. Additionally, we are able to rule out selection into specific job types as potential channels for the positive relationship between conscientiousness and earnings.
  • Publication
    The Role of Friends in the Opioid Epidemic
    (2024-02-07) Adamopoulou, Effrosyni; Greenwood, Jeremy; Guner, Nezih; Kopecky, Karen
    The role of friends in the US opioid epidemic is examined. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health), adults aged 25-34 and their high school best friends are focused on. An instrumental variable technique is employed to estimate peer effects in opioid misuse. Severe injuries in the previous year are used as an instrument for opioid misuse in order to estimate the causal impact of someone misusing opioids on the probability that their best friends also misuse. The estimated peer effects are significant: Having a best friend with a reported serious injury in the previous year increases the probability of own opioid misuse by around 7 percentage points in a population where 17 percent ever misuses opioids. The effect is driven by individuals without a college degree and those who live in the same county as their best friends.
  • Publication
    Female Headship and Poverty in the Arab Region: Analysis of Trends and Dynamics Based on a New Typology
    (2024-02-07) AlAzzawi, Shireen; Dang, Hai-Anh; Hlasny, Vladimir; Behrman, Jere R.; Kseniya, Abanokova
    Various challenges are thought to render female-headed households (FHHs) vulnerable to poverty in the Arab region. Yet, previous studies have mixed results and the absence of household panel survey data hinders analysis of poverty dynamics. We address these challenges by proposing a novel typology of FHHs and analyze synthetic panels that we constructed from 20 rounds of repeated cross-sectional surveys spanning the past two decades from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Mauritania, Palestine, and Tunisia. We find that the definition of FHHs matters for measuring poverty levels and dynamics. Most types of FHHs are less poor than non-FHHs on average, but FHHs with a major share of female adults are generally poorer. FHHs are more likely to escape poverty than households on average, but FHHs without children are most likely to do so. While more children are generally associated with more poverty for FHHs, there is heterogeneity across countries in addition to heterogeneity across FHH measures. Our findings provide useful inputs for social protection and employment programs aiming at reducing gender inequalities and poverty in the Arab region.
  • Publication
    Minimum Wages and Intergenerational Health
    (2024-02-07) Majid, Muhammad Farhan; Wang, Hanna; Behrman, Jere R.
    Most minimum wage (MW) research focuses on wage and employment impacts in high-income countries. Little is known about broader impacts, including on parental and child health in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) where most people affected by MWs live. This study studies MW effects on employment, earnings, parental health and child health in Indonesia, the third most-populous LMIC. Results include: MWs improve men’s earnings, parental hemoglobin, and child height-for age and reduce pregnancy complications. This study highlights nuanced but positive roles MWs may play in improving parental and child health, despite not directly affecting women’s earnings and labor supplies.
  • Publication
    Financial Literacy, Portfolio Choice and Wealth Inequality: A General Equilibrium Approach
    (2024-02-07) Kim, Min
    I develop a general equilibrium model in which households allocate their wealth to safe and risky assets (“bonds” and “stocks”) and accumulate financial literacy to raise their risk-adjusted stock returns. Calibrated to match financial literacy and stock market participation rate of U.S. households, the model demonstrates that a policy subsidizing financial literacy acquisition increases short-run stock investments. In equilibrium, however, the resulting aggregate capital growth lowers the average equity premium, thereby moderating the subsidy’s impact. The policy mitigates wealth inequality by inducing heterogeneous portfolio adjustments across the wealth distribution. With the subsidy, the middle wealth quartiles acquire more financial literacy and shift their portfolios toward stocks. The top quartile attains its maximum literacy level prior to the subsidy and shifts toward bonds to compensate for lower stock returns. The ratio of total wealth held by the top quartile versus the rest of the population decreases.