Timing is everything. A study by David Cutler confirms that graduates who enter the labor market during bad economic times experience lower income, lower life satisfaction, greater obesity, more smoking and drinking later in life. The study also noted that education plays a protective role for these outcomes, as educated individuals, even when entering the market at times of high unemployment, have a much lower incidence of these outcomes than their uneducated counterparts. The study was published in Social Science and Medicine.
Pop Center faculty members Nancy Krieger and Jason Beckfield have published a study analyzing 50 years of data on the age at which US-born Black and White women begin menstruation. Their works shows that trends in age at menarche vary by socioeconomic position (SEP and race/ethnicity) in ways that pose challenges to several leading clinical, public health, and social explanations for timing of menarche.
Pop Center faculty members Gunther Fink and Wafaie Fawzi have published a new study showing that postponing the age of first birth and increasing inter-pregnancy intervals—two outcomes made possible by family planning—have the potential to significantly reduce the prevalence of stunted growth and improve child development in LMICs (low and middle income countries).
RWJF alumna Rebecca Thurston has published a study which reveals that psychosocial stress brought on by early life adversities may have implications for the development of risk factors for heart disease later on. The study results have been reported in multiple media outlets, including US News & World Report.
How does social disadvantage in childhood correlate to cardiometabolic function and chronic disease status 40 years down the line? RWJF alumna Amy Non, along with Pop Center faculty members Ichiro Kawachi, Matthew Gilman, and Laura Kubzansky, take a look at how adverse social environments in early life play out across the life course. The study has been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
According to a new study published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior and co-authored by RWJF alum Steven Haas, adolescents tend to be more powerful in influencing their friends to start smoking than in helping them to quit. “In order to become a smoker, kids need to know how to smoke, they need to know where to buy cigarettes and how to smoke without being caught, which are all things they can learn from their friends who smoke,” said Haas. “But, friends are unlikely to be able to provide the type resources needed to help them quit smoking.” The good news? If we can develop those kind of resources, aim them specifically at teens, and then leverage the power of peer influence, we could make great progress in helping teens quit smoking.
A recent study led by former RWJF scholar Elizabeth Sweet found that high student debt leads to a greater incidence of high blood pressure and depression in people ages 24-32. The study was featured in both Time and Forbes. With regard to cultural messages regarding an individual’s responsibility for debt, Sweet pointed out that debt, while often impossible to avoid, is stigmatized by our society. “[Debt] is going to be a way of life,” she said—which means that prevention and treatment of the associated adverse health effects is all the more important.
Last Spring, RWJF alums Katie McLaughlin and Margaret Sheridan were in the middle of a study on trauma that, like so many of its kind, relied upon artificial situations created in a lab. But in the middle of this study, a real-life trauma occurred: the marathon bombing. As McLaughlin told New England Public Radio, this provided a unique opportunity to look at how children and adolescents who had experienced previous trauma and stress responded to a new trauma. The study ultimately found that early exposure to violence makes someone more, not less, sensitized to violence later on. McLaughlin and Sheridan also made another important discovery: the more that a young person watched coverage of the bombing and subsequent manhunt, the more likely he or she was to feel unsafe or under threat, and to develop mental health problems afterwards.
Last week we featured a new study co-authored by Pop Center faculty member SV Subramanian, which found that economic growth has little to no effect on the nutritional status of the world’s poorest children. The study was subsequently discussed on NPR’s health news site, Shots, and in The New York Times, where Paul Krugman quoted Subramanian in a blog post on economic growth and income distribution.
Its information-gathering abilities are no doubt impressive, but how good is Google at tracking cases of influenza? Pop Center faculty member Gary King, who recently co-authored a paper critiquing the accuracy of Google Flu Trends. A subsequent New York Times article discussed King’s paper and raised interesting questions about the strengths and limitations of big data.