Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Each week, the CSDE Seminar Series brings top demographers from around the world to a classroom near you. These events boast free admission and a variety of formats–check out the sidebar to learn more about each! For more information or to learn how you can get involved with the Seminar Series, contact Melissa Martinson.

Spring 2017

CSDE Fellow’s Invited Lecture

Friday, 3/31/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Speaker: Jessica Hardin, Anthropology, Pacific University
Fellow Host: Brianna Mills

The Samoan islands face unpredicted rates of cardiometabolic disorders, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. The Pacific Islands more generally have become the focus of sophisticated and historically significant research about what scholars have called the nutrition or epidemiological transition. Research on these disorders in the islands, tend to focus on three main factors that influence health behaviors: wealth increases in the region; fat positivity; and changes in labor patterns leading to decreased physical activity. Indeed, macro-level changes related to urbanization, migration and a changing food environment have all contributed to population-wide rates of cardiometabolic disorders. However, these trends don’t explain the daily struggles that people face when the materials that once indexed wellness, like food and fat, can now also index sickness. Instead of straightforward valorizations of food and fat, as literature on the epidemiological transition might suggest, I saw ambivalence and anxiety about reciprocity and hierarchy communicated through discussions of these materials. Ambiguity around the meaning of health is often left out of the discussion of the emergence of cardiometabolic disorders worldwide but is essential to understanding the rise of these disorders and effective methods for preventing them. In this talk, I parse out three enduring contradictions that show that discerning cardiometabolic risk a social process of interpreting bodies and relationships: to be wealthy and poor places you are risk; foods that have historically created well-being, now place individuals at risk for developing cardiometabolic disorders; and fat can mean both power, generosity, and generativity and potentially laziness, sickness, and moral corruption.

Jessica Hardin is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Pacific University. She is a cultural and medical anthropologist who is interested in how the intersection of medicine and religion shapes lived experiences of chronic illness. As an ethnographer, her work focuses on metabolic disorders to bridge critical medical anthropology (on nutrition, fat, metabolic disorders) and the anthropology of Christianity (on the body, healing, denomination).

The Fellow Host, Brianna Mills, is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology. Her work is focused on identifying risk markers for firearm injury using probabilistic linkage of medical and criminal records, and neighborhood characteristics. Brianna and Dr. Hardin are alumni of Brandeis University’s Anthropology department, with shared interests in how people’s lived experiences are captured by institutional data systems and mixed methods approaches to social determinants of health.

Schedule a meeting with Dr. Hardin

CSDE Fellow’s Invited Lecture

Friday, 4/7/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Speaker: Barbara A. Anderson, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan 
Fellow Host: Michelle O’Brien

After the end of apartheid in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) dominated elections with the support of almost all Africans, while non-Africans increasingly supported the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Based on analysis 2003-2014, the party preference of young persons is less tied to their race than older persons. However, even in 2014, over 80% of Africans support the ANC, and over 80% of non-Africans support the DA. Thus, it will be a long time before party choice is not strongly related to race.

Barbara A. Anderson is the Ronald Freedman Collegiate Professor of Sociology and Population Studies at the University of Michigan. She holds an A.B. degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University. She has been a faculty member at Yale University and Brown University, a visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Study and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. She has conducted extensive research on the relation of population and development and the role of data and data quality in these areas. She has consulted on data and research with the governments of Estonia, China, and South Africa. She has served on the National Science Foundation Review Panel on Sociology and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Population Research Committee. She is the Chair of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee.  She has published or edited six books and more than 100 articles and chapters.

Michelle O’Brien is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology and a fellow at the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington. Her research interests lie in the intersection of politics and demography. She has specifically focused on the demography of armed conflict and the role of nationalism and ethnic conflict in migration decision-making. Michelle’s dissertation examines the long-term demographic consequences of the Tajik Civil War. In addition to her substantive interests, Michelle has published on methodological challenges in Demography, including the use of computational methods. She has presented her award-winning work at several conferences, both domestic and international.

Schedule a meeting with Dr. Anderson

Population Research Discovery Seminar

Friday, 4/14/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Elizabeth Cooksey, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University

The Amish are well known for their distinctive dress, restricted use of modern technology, a continued reliance on the horse and buggy for local transportation, maintenance of their Pennsylvania German dialect, and a strict adherence to a rural-based lifestyle. They are also known for their high levels of fertility.  In the preface to his 2001 book The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill writes that the Amish story is “a fascinating tale of traditional people navigating their way through the swirling rapids of modern life.” The Amish are not only a draw for tourists, but their rapidly expanding population has also brought them into increased contact with the non-Amish through intensified migration to new geographic areas.  This research uses individual and household demographic data to ask the question of how the growing influence of modern life might have impacted core beliefs and behaviors of the Amish in the early part of the 21st century.

Elizabeth Cooksey is Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR) at The Ohio State University.  She holds a BA in Human Sciences from Oxford University and a PhD in Sociology from Brown University.  She has been a Visiting Scholar and Visiting Fellow at the Center for Longitudinal Studies, London University and is a past president of the international Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies.  Much of her research focuses on children and youth, and life course transitions and she has been the PI of the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth’s Child and Young Adult studies for more than a decade.  Much of her research on the Amish has been undertaken with rural sociologist, Joseph Donnermeyer.  Together they have spent the last decade creating a database of the Amish in the North America and trying to keep up with rapid Amish settlement growth.

Schedule a meeting with Dr. Cooksey

Next Population Science Insights

Friday, 4/21/17 
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Location: Raitt 121

Christine Leibbrand – “Great Migration’s Great Return? An Examination of Second-Generation Return Migration to the South”

Lee Fiorio – “Sprawl and Neighborhood Change: Patterns of ‘White Flight’ Amid Growing Neighborhood-Level Racial Diversity, 1990 to 2010”

Jessica Godwin – “Probabilistic Population Projections for Countries with Generalized HIV/AIDS Epidemics”

Christine Leibbrand – “Great Migration’s Great Return? An Examination of Second-Generation Return Migration to the South”

Presented alongside Catherine Massey, J. Trent Alexander, and Stewart Tolnay

Abstract: Using novel panel data spanning 1940-2000, we examine the children of the Great Migration who returned to the South. We observe two types of return migrants: (1) southern-born, “lifetime” return migrants who were born in the South, resided outside of the South in 1940, and returned to the South by 2000, and (2) northern-born, “generational” return migrants whose parents were born in the South but who, themselves, were born in the North, resided in the North in 1940, and had returned to the South by 2000. These data also allow us to observe return migrants and their parents over a longer period of time than any previous data source, permitting us to definitively identify both southern- and northern-born return migrants. Using these data, we find that generational migrants comprise a large majority of return migrants to the South and that these migrants are positively selected on their own and their parents’ socioeconomic characteristics, relative to second-generation Great Migration migrants who remain in the North. Conversely, southern-born return migrants are negatively selected. For both groups of return migrants, returning to one’s or one’s parents’ birth state is common, though it is particularly likely among southern-born return migrants.

Christine is a graduate student with the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on internal migration within the United States, its associations with individual and familial socioeconomic outcomes, and the extent to which race and gender play into these relationships. She is also involved with several independent and collaborative research projects looking at second generation Great Migration migrants, segregation and neighborhood attainment, and the influence of paternal incarceration on maternal neighborhood outcomes. Christine has presented her work at conferences including the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) annual conference, the Population Association of America (PAA) annual conference, and the Pacific Sociological Association (PSA) annual conference.

Lee Fiorio – “Sprawl and Neighborhood Change: Patterns of ‘White Flight’ Amid Growing Neighborhood-Level Racial Diversity, 1990 to 2010”

Abstract: Over the last half century, the literatures on racial segregation and sprawl have largely been kept separate. This paper aims to rectify this deficit by conducting an analysis of the sprawl of populations in four race/ethnicity categories (white, black, Asian and Latino) in 52 large US metropolitan areas, 1990 to 2010. Findings indicate that white flight remains a dominate feature of the residential landscape despite increasing neighborhood diversity in inner ring suburbs. These results provide a framework for assessing the future trajectories of neighborhood change, urban spatial development and segregation as the relative share of the white population continues to fall into the next decade and beyond.

Lee is a third year graduate student in the department of geography and CSDE fellow. His work focuses on neighborhood change and migration in the US context with an emphasis on methodology and data visualization.

Jessica Godwin – “Probabilistic Population Projections for Countries with Generalized HIV/AIDS Epidemics”

Presented alongside David J. Sharrow, Yanjun He, Samuel J. Clark and Adrian E. Raftery

Abstract: The UN issued official probabilistic population projections for all countries to 2100 for the first time in July 2015. This was done by simulating future levels of total fertility and life expectancy from Bayesian hierarchical models, and combining the results using a standard cohort-component projection method. The 40 countries with generalized HIV/AIDS epidemics were treated differently from others, in that the projections used the multistate Spectrum/EPP model, a complex 15-compartment model that was designed for short-term projections of quantities relevant to policy for the epidemic. Here we propose a simpler approach. Changes in life expectancy are projected probabilistically using a simple time series regression model on current life expectancy, HIV prevalence and ART coverage. These are then converted to age- and sex-specific mortality rates using a new family of model life tables designed for countries with HIV/AIDS epidemics that reproduces the characteristic hump in middle adult mortality. These are then input to the standard cohort-component method, as for other countries. The method performed well in an out-of-sample cross-validation experiment. It gives similar population projections to Spectrum/EPP in the short run, while being simpler and avoiding multistate modeling.

Jessica is a PhD student in the Department of Statistics and a CSDE BD2K Fellow. She currently works with advisor Jon Wakefield on Bayesian space-time methods for estimating and projecting under-five mortality in countries without vital registration. Previously, she worked with Adrian Raftery on Bayesian projections of life expectancy in the presence of a generalized HIV/AIDS epidemic. She received her B.S. in actuarial science and M.S. in statistics from Auburn University.

Population Research Discovery Seminar

Friday, 5/5/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Co-Sponsor: West Coast Poverty Center

Robert Plotnick, Scott Allard, Marieka Klawitter, and Jennifer Romich

Please join CSDE and the WCPC for this special panel reflecting on the past, present and future of the field of population and poverty research. In honor of Professor Robert Plotnick’s long and distinguished career as a leader in this field, he and three esteemed UW poverty researchers will highlight the overarching issues that demographers have grappled with in poverty and policy research, as well as current research in the areas of poverty and geography, financial inclusion and asset building, and income supports for populations experiencing poverty.

Robert D. Plotnick is the Daniel J. Evans Professor of Public Policy and Governance. He joined the School in 1984, after previously serving on the faculties of Bates College (1975-77) and Dartmouth College (1977-84). Plotnick also holds appointments as Adjunct Professor in the University of Washington’s Department of Economics and as a Research Affiliate with UW’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology and West Coast Poverty Center, and with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. He directed the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology from 1997 to 2002 and was Associate Dean of the School from 1990 to 1995 and 2011 to 2016.

Scott W. Allard is a Professor at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. His work focuses on issues of poverty, place, and safety net policy in the US. In addition to his faculty appointment at the University of Washington, Allard is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, co-primary investigator of the Family Self-Sufficiency Data Center at the University of Chicago, and a research affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Marieka M. Klawitter joined the Evans School faculty in 1990. Her research focuses on public policies that affect work and income, including studies of the effects of asset-building policies, welfare policies, intra-household bargaining, and anti-discrimination policies for sexual orientation. She teaches courses on public policy analysis, quantitative methods, program evaluation, asset-building for low income families, and sexual orientation and public policy. Klawitter holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, and a MPP and AB in Economics from the University of Michigan.

Jennifer Romich is an Associate Professor of Social Welfare at the UW School of Social Work and Director of the West Coast Poverty Center. Romich studies resources and economic in families with a particular emphasis on low income workers, household budgets and families’ interactions with public policy. Her current work focuses on the economic safety net for poor families, the child welfare system, and labor standards policies including the minimum wage and paid leave. She teaches policy and policy practice classes. Romich holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and earned a doctorate in human development and social policy from Northwestern University.

Population Research Discovery Seminar

Friday, 5/12/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Robert Moffitt, Department of Economics, Johns Hopkins University

This study provides a new examination of the incentive effects of welfare rules on marriage and cohabitation among low-income women.  Focusing on the AFDC and TANF programs and how they treat the presence of men in the household, the study notes that the eligibility and benefit rules are based more on the biological relationship between the children and any male in the household than on marriage or cohabitation per se.  A new empirical analysis of the effect of 1990s welfare reforms on family structure that matches these rules correctly shows that the effects of those reforms on marriage and cohabitation differ depending on whether the union formation in question involved men who were biological fathers of the children.  The effects of reforms which involved harsh work-related policies had more effects than reforms which involved family structure per se.
Read the Paper
Robert Moffitt is the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics at Johns Hopkins University, where he is also an Associate of the NICHD-funded Hopkins Population Center.  Professor Moffitt’s research focuses on the U.S. welfare system and its effect on low income families and children as well as on general issues related to poverty, and he has conducted research on statistical methodology, including methods for conducting causal inference with observational data and on the estimation of models of social interactions and networks. He was the 2014 President of the Population Association America and is a recipient of an NICHD MERIT award.

Schedule a meeting with Dr. Moffitt

CSDE Fellow Presentation

Friday, 5/19/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Hilary Bethancourt, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington


Though it is widely recognized that diet and nutrition play pivotal roles in health and disease processes throughout the life course, there is limited agreement on what constitutes an optimal, health-promoting diet. A particularly contentious topic in the diet and nutrition realm revolves around the effect of meat and animal fat on cardiovascular and metabolic health, but the current debates on this topic cannot be adequately addressed without answering some important cross-disciplinary questions. For example, why, despite strong anthropological evidence that humans evolved to be meat-eating omnivores, do epidemiological studies seem to suggest that, at least in industrialized settings, vegetarians and vegans tend to experience lower rates of morbidity and mortality than omnivores? How valid are conventional nutritional recommendations to reduce fat, avoid red meat, and consume ample amounts of grains given evidence of superior cardiometabolic health among extant hunter-gatherer populations and improved cardiometabolic health observed in clinical trials in which participants are instructed to follow diets modeled off of hunter-gather consumption patterns? And in general, why is the data on the health effects of any given dietary pattern, food, or macronutrient density so inconsistent across studies and populations?

In an attempt to address some of these questions, Hilary Bethancourt, a current PhD candidate in biocultural anthropology, pursued a dissertation research project that explored the nutritional variation of periodic plant-based diets practiced by Orthodox Christians in the United States during Lent (the 48 days preceding Easter) and concurrent changes in biomarkers of cardiovascular and metabolic health. She will discuss some of her research findings while also highlighting some of the many methodological issues that limit the strength and/or validity of conclusions made from existing research on diet, nutrition, and disease. Hilary hopes researchers from a wide range of disciplines will join and contribute to this interactive conversation on how we might improve upon methods of dietary assessment, evaluation of health status, and statistical modeling of diet-disease relationships in order to address competing perspectives on which foods should or can be included in a healthy diet aimed at preventing or managing nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases.

Hilary Bethancourt is currently pursuing a PhD in biocultural anthropology with a focus on medical and nutritional anthropology at the University of Washington. She has also received a master’s degree in biocultural anthropology and a master’s of public health degree in epidemiology at the University of Washington. Her research interests throughout her graduate studies have been focused on gaining a more comprehensive, interdisciplinary perspective on how human evolutionary history, biology, ecology, and culture have influenced dietary and lifestyle behaviors and growth, development, health, and aging patterns within and across human populations. Hilary’s aim of gaining a better understanding of the complex relationships between diet or lifestyle factors and health throughout the life course is driven by the goal of helping to find more effective, accessible, and cost-effective ways of preventing and managing chronic, degenerative diseases and maintaining health and functionality throughout the aging process.

Population Research Discovery Seminar

Friday, 5/19/17 
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Anjum Hajat, Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington

The alternative financial services (AFS) industry, such as short-term predatory lenders and check cashers, generates revenue of $75 billion annually. Growth in the industry accelerated in the 1980s due to deregulation and increased need for credit among the poor and working class suffering from stagnant wages and social service cuts. In particular, AFS businesses exploit the financial marginalization of African Americans and immigrants, groups harmed by discriminatory policies and institutions that have hindered their ability to accumulate wealth and participate in mainstream financial programs. Unregulated short-term predatory loans carry annual interest rates of 300-400%. Users primarily borrow to cover basic living expenses and compensate for lost income. Those without access to a bank account, the unbanked, are especially likely to use AFS; by one estimate, a typical unbanked household earning $25,000 spends $2,400 on AFS annually. In addition to the high monetary costs of poverty, those who are unbanked must spend large amounts of time travelling and waiting to pay bills in person. Though many studies have assessed the relationship been financial instability, specifically wealth and debt, and health, few have focused on AFS use and the unbanked. We hypothesize that AFS use and being unbanked results in poor health because of increased stress and material deprivation. Our study investigated the relationship between predatory loan use, unbanked status, and self-rated health using data from the Current Population Surveys from 2011-2016. In this talk, I discuss the results of our analysis and explore their policy implications for financial regulations and social welfare programs.

Dr. Hajat is currently an Assistant Professor in the Epidemiology Department at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health. She received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and her MPH in Epidemiology and International Health from the University of Michigan. Dr. Hajat’s current NIH funded research explores the joint effects of psychosocial stress and environmental exposures as they impact cardiovascular disease. In addition, much of her research to date has explored the role of stress, including financial instability, in causing poor mental and physical health.

End of Year Reception

Friday, 6/2/17 
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 PM PT 
Location: 313 Denny Hall

This Friday, we’ll be celebrating the end of the academic year and CSDE’s successful NIH Center Grant (P2C). We’ll also be presenting Demographic Methods Certificates. Please join us in recognizing all of these accomplishments! Every member of the CSDE community plays an important role in our broader research network and training program. There will be refreshments and a very brief program starting at 12:45 PM.

These students will be receiving their certificates:

  • Michael Babb, Geography
  • Christopher Cambron, Social Work
  • Erin Carll, Sociology
  • Nikki Eller, Health Services
  • Xinguang Fan, Sociology
  • Andrew Jopson, Health Services
  • Savannah Larimore, Sociology
  • Christine Leibbrand, Sociology
  • Jonathan Muir, Sociology
  • Michelle O’Brien, Sociology
  • Victoria Sass, Sociology
  • María Vignau Loria, Sociology