Latest study on aging in South Africa presents some of the first incidence rates of aging-related cognitive impairment in this population

An older South African man and a healthcare worker do an intake sitting outside in rural South Africa

HAALSI researchers — including former Harvard Bell Fellow Lindsay Kobayashi, and Harvard Pop Center Research Associate Meagan Farrell, and Director Lisa Berkman — have published a study that finds similar patterning between social disparities (such as differences in formal education, literacy and marital status) and cognitive impairment rates in rural South Africa as observed in many high-income countries.

Children with complicated births found to be at increased risk of eviction

Newborn baby sleeps on the forearm of a man

A study finds that babies who were low-birth weight, experienced a lengthy hospital stay, or were born prematurely were at increased risk of experiencing eviction later in childhood. Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa F. Berkman and Visiting Scientist Mariana Arcaya are authors, as well as Gabriel L Schwartz, Kathryn M Leifheit, and Jarvis T Chen. Image: Pixabay

Does alcohol consumption play a role in the spread of HIV among older adults in South Africa?

Multiple glasses of red wine

A study by HAALSI researchers finds that increased and more frequent alcohol consumption among older adults in South Africa is linked with higher levels of sexual risk taking, patterns of behavior that could contribute to the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. reports: “Women who work for pay have slower memory loss as they age”

Woman over age 60, thanks to Pixabay

A study with former postdoctoral fellow Erika Sabbath, ScD, and Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, PhD (on sabbatical 2020-2021) among the authors reports that women who worked for pay during early adulthood and later in life (even if they left the workforce to raise children but later returned) have slower rates of memory decline after age 60. Read about the findings in this piece on

Assessing the scale for assessing depression in rural South Africa

Two South African women wearing colorful clothes

Researchers from the Harvard Pop Center in Cambridge, MA and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa who are affiliated with the HAALSI study have published a paper in the Journal of Affective Disorders that finds that the reliability of the commonly used scale to assess depression (Center for Epidemiologic Depression Scale (CES-D)) differed by gender. Authors of the study include: Leslie B. Adams, Meagan Farrell, Sumaya Mall,…

Why are more women than men dying of coronavirus in Massachusetts? Berkman, Krieger provide some possible reasons…

Boston Globe with Lisa Berkman and Nancy Krieger

Globally and nationally, the gender divide is clear; more men than women are dying of the coronavirus. The Boston Globe spoke with Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, PhD, and faculty member Nancy Krieger, PhD, to uncover why Massachusetts is experiencing a different trend.

Education is not only factor in cognitive health disparities between older men and women in rural South Africa

Researchers affiliated with HAALSI, a longitudinal project focused on an aging population in South Africa, have published a study that emphasizes the need for additional research focused on strengthening the cognitive resilience of older women, given the predominately female composition of aging populations worldwide.

Can the socioeconomic status of a neighborhood influence the cognitive health of its residents?

Scene of lower socioeconomic neighborhood in France

A study published by researchers affiliated with the French Constances cohort (a nationally representative sample of 200,000 adults aged between 18 and 69) reveals that neighborhoods suffering from socioeconomic deprivation were linked to cognitive impairment. Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, PhD, is co-PI on the project and one of the study authors.

Testing = Knowledge = Power: Factoring in cognitive function and literacy level in effort to increase HIV testing in South Africa

Older woman in South Africa

A team of researchers has found that those older adults in South Africa participating in the HAALSI study who demonstrated higher cognitive function and literacy levels were more likely to be knowledgeable about their own HIV status. The findings suggest that campaigns aimed at increasing HIV testing should factor in the cognitive function and literary level of the targeted audience.

Lisa Berkman addresses Harvard community in Seattle about widening inequalities and shifting workplace demographics

Head shot of Lisa Berkman

Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman joined Harvard University President Larry Bacow in Seattle and addressed nearly 300 alumni and students. Based on her work as a social epidemiologist, Berkman noted “life expectancy in the United States is intricately entwined with the kinds of inequality that we live with.” Learn more in The Harvard Gazette.