Three cheers for transformative potential of randomized controlled trials and natural experiments to help us better understand how social exposures impact health!

Word cloud about social epi

In honor of the American Journal of Public Health’s 100th anniversary, a commentary by HCPDS Director Lisa Berkman, faculty member Mauricio Avendano, and former Bell Fellow Emilie Courtin spreads enthusiasm about how the implementation of social randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and natural experiments that utilize observational data can help to advance the field of social epidemiology, and to illustrate… “…how credible social policy reforms may be instrumental to address health…

When is the best time to prevent early childhood obesity?

Harvard Pop Center faculty members Tracy Richmond, Mauricio Avendano, and Ichiro Kawachi, along with their colleague Inyang A. Isong, have published a study that takes a longitudinal look at the weight and growth status of kindergarten-aged children from various racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Riding the bus to better cognitive function

Green bus and a black car driving on a street

Findings from a study authored by Harvard Pop Center Bell Fellow Emilie Courtin, faculty member Mauricio Avendano, and colleagues reveal that making public transportation more accessible to older adults (by way of a free bus pass) did more than just boost ridership; it also increased their cognitive functioning, perhaps by facilitating a more socially and physically active lifestyle.

Mother’s education level linked to child’s risk of obesity

picture of a baby eating

A mother’s education level has been found to be linked to her offspring’s body mass index (BMI) as early as three years of age in three European countries. The recent findings by Harvard Pop Center affiliates (faculty member Mauricio Avendano, Bell Fellow Emilie Courtin, and former visiting scientist Cathal McCrory) and their colleagues have been published in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, and the study has received attention in the news……

Longer compulsory education not necessarily better for cognitive & mental health outcomes; a natural experiment finds differences between genders

Emilie Courtin headshot

A new study published in the BMJ Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health examined the long-term health impacts of a policy enacted in France that extended compulsory education by two years. Lead author Emilie Courtin, PhD, a current Harvard Bell Fellow, along with Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman, and faculty members Mauricio Avendano and Maria Glymour and other colleagues, found that while the reform was linked to improved cognitive…

When is more education not necessarily better for health?

Harvard Bell Fellow Emilie Courtin, PhD, is lead author on a study published in Social Science & Medicine that reveals that when mandatory length of education among teenagers in France was raised from age 14 to 16 by a government policy, those students who were from socioeconomically disadvantaged families were later found to have higher blood pressure and white blood cell counts in adulthood. Harvard Pop Center Director Lisa Berkman and faculty…

Non-health government expenditure found to be associated with reduction in infant mortality rate inequalities in LMICs

A study published in Health Economics, Policy and Law has found non-health government spending to be associated with lower inequalities in infant mortality rates in low- and middle-income countries, whereas health government expenditure was not. Harvard Pop Center faculty member Mauricio Avendano is an author on the study.

Middle and high school racial composition linked to misuse of non-medical prescription painkillers later in life

A study by Harvard Pop Center director Lisa Berkman, faculty members Ichiro Kawachi and Mauricio Avendano, and colleagues has revealed that both white and black students who attended majority-white schools were at higher risk of lifetime, non-medical use of prescription painkillers. Blacks who attended predominantly white schools were twice as likely to report misuse compared to blacks who attended predominantly black schools.

Later pension, poorer health? Evidence from the UK

A Harvard Pop Center working paper by faculty member Mauricio Avendano and his colleagues reveals that increasing the age at which women working in routine-manual occupations in the UK received pension benefits negatively impacted their health, and contributed to the widening of the health gap between women of different occupations.

Father’s unemployment linked to increased purchases of psychotropic medication by offspring

Mauricio Avendano is an author on a paper that shows that while there was no association between a mother’s unemployment and the purchases of pscyhotropic medication by her offspring, there was a significant increase in these purchases among adolescents whose fathers were unemployed.