Youth, Families, and Social Mobility

The research area of Youth, Families, and Social Mobility at HCPDS focuses on a diverse set of questions, largely geared toward the better understanding of and improvements in the well-being of marginalized populations. Our affiliated faculty focus on youth and families across the globe, and work to advance knowledge related to social mobility. This work is focused on maternal health and child health, early-life outcomes, causes and consequences of family and gender inequality, and class and socio-economic mobility. Some of the related projects led by our faculty members include:

  •  Joscha Legewie is working to identify how neighborhood boundaries and spatial dimensions of the world in which we live can impact aspects of social inequality (e.g., neighborhood conflict, crime, and policing). This project overcomes limitations of past work that treats neighborhoods as isolated, “aspatial” areas and highlights how residential segregation creates contentious areas at the places where groups border.
  • Deirdre Bloome investigates the intergenerational and historical drivers of contemporary inequalities in marriage and cohabitation, including factors that dampen intergenerational influences (such as migration).
  • Xiang Zhou aims to understand how the equalizing and disequalizing effects of higher education impact the Black-White earnings gap, and the extent to which the gap could be reduced with idealized interventions. He lead a project that assessed the effects of a range of hypothetical interventions within the higher education system (e.g., race- and class-conscious recruitment policies at selective colleges) on racial and class inequalities in both eventual educational attainment and labor market outcomes.
  • Christina Cross, who was also a postdoctoral fellow at HCPDS from 2020 to 2022, examines how family structure, change, and dynamics influence individuals’ life chances, particularly among minoritized and/or low-income populations.
  • David Canning uses randomized control trials to understand the influences on women’s adoption (or discontinuation) of lasting contraceptive methods around the world.
  • Margaret McConnell focuses on deepening the understanding of the choices and preferences of women during critical periods of pregnancy, postpartum, and early childhood in order to tailor interventions to overcome constraints in the U.S. and low income countries.
  • Aisha Yousafzai develops new interventions to strengthen child- and caregiving-related outcomes through existing health, nutrition, and education systems in South Asia, East Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe, promoting capacity development in local communities.

Since 2016, HCPDS has been sponsoring the Social Demography Seminar series, a lively forum that brings together a diverse intellectual community including faculty, fellows, researchers, and students from different schools and departments (and since it became a hybrid series in 2021, from different universities as well) who work on research questions related to population health and composition, social relations, and social inequalities. Sociologists, epidemiologists, economists, and public policy experts gather (either in person at HCPDS or via Zoom) on a weekly basis to attend a seminar led by a guest speaker who disseminates research on the measurement of social processes (e.g., racism, gender systems, family processes) related to population dynamics (e.g., fertility, migration, mortality).