Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Population Research Discovery Seminars

Crime, Migration, and Community Change

Jenna Nobles, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

04/26/2019
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

In Mexico, exposure to violent crime increased sharply between 2007-2010 and has remained elevated in the subsequent years. We study the effects on domestic and international migration at both the micro and macro levels. We describe where, and how, violence-related migration has shaped population characteristics and aspects of community functioning. We also consider evidence for remarkable population stability in some regions of Mexico and discuss potential explanations—that is, why people stay in place when community conditions worsen.


Jenna Nobles is a social demographer who studies issues of development, family dynamics, and child welfare. Much of her previous work examines these processes in resource-constrained settings. Her dissertation research examines the effects of parental labor migration on child development in Mexico, with a particular focus on child nutrition, growth, and access to health care. In related work, she has also examined shifting family formation processes during periods of economic and social change.  Jenna’s work builds on existing literature to consider whether the use of interesting natural variation in population experiences can improve our understanding of the role of context in health.  For example: Can the lifespan changes we observe when a country gains emancipation from outside rule tell us about the importance of political context for mortality?  Does the destruction of community networks during a natural disaster allow us to estimate the role of social ties in psychological distress?  When occupational hierarchies are rearranged in periods of economic collapse, can we learn about the link between status and physical functioning?  Can systematic changes in labor migration patterns shed light on the importance of living arrangements for children’s development?  Jenna’s investigation of these questions uses population data from the United States, northern Europe, Indonesia, and several Latin American countries and includes collaborations with local scholars in Epidemiology, Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, and Public Policy.

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