Selected Publications by Trainees & Postdocs, 2012-2013

Child DevelopmentMarital Status, Self-Rated Health, and Mortality: Overestimation of Health or Diminishing Protection of Marriage?
Hui Zheng and Patricia A. Thomas
Journal of Health and Social Behavior 54(1): 128-143, 2013
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Abstract: This study challenges two well-established associations in medical sociology: the beneficial effect of marriage on health and the predictive power of self-rated health on mortality. Using The National Health Interview Survey 1986-2004 with 1986-2006 mortality follow-up (789,096 respondents with 24,095 deaths) and Cox Proportional Hazards Models, we find the protective effect of marriage against mortality decreases with deteriorating health so that the married and unmarried in poor health are at similar risk for death. We also find the power of self-rated health to predict mortality is higher for the married than for any unmarried group. By using ordered logistic regression models, we find thresholds shift such that, compared to the unmarried, the married may not report poorer health until developing more severe health problems. These findings suggest the married tend to overestimate their health status. These two phenomena (diminishing protection and overestimation) contribute to but do not completely explain each other

DemographyHow Job Characteristics Affect International Migration: The Role of Informality in Mexico 
Andres Villarreal and Sarah Blanchard
Demography 50(2):751-775, 2013
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Abstract: Despite the importance given to employment opportunities as a primary motive for migration, previous studies have paid insufficient attention to the kinds of jobs that are more likely to retain workers in their countries of origin. We use information from a panel survey of Mexican adults to examine how job characteristics affect the risk of international migration. The sampling strategy and overall size of the survey allow us to analyze the effect of employment characteristics on migration from urban areas, which have much greater labor market diversity, and to separate our analysis by gender. We also distinguish migrants according to whether they migrate for work or for other reasons. We find informality to be a significant predictor of international migration. Even after controlling for individual factors including workers’ wages, as well as various household- and community-level predictors, we find that workers employed in the informal sector have significantly higher odds of migrating than their counterparts in the formal sector. The pervasive nature of informality in many developing countries from which a high proportion of international migrants originate may therefore create a constant supply of workers who are predisposed to migrate. Our findings thus have important implications for a proper understanding of the effects of economic development on migration.

DemographyMarital Processes around Depression: A Gendered Perspective 
Mieke Thomeer, Tetyana Pudrovska, and Debra Umberson
Society and Mental Health, 2013
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Abstract: Despite extensive evidence of the importance of marriage and marital processes for mental health, little is known about the interpersonal processes around depression within marriage and the extent to which these processes are gendered. We use a mixed-methods approach to explore the importance of gender in shaping processes around depression within marriage. We approach this in two ways: First, using quantitative longitudinal analysis of 2,601 couples from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we address whether depressive symptoms in one spouse shape the other spouse’s depressive symptoms and whether men or women are more influential in this process. We find that a wife’s depressive symptoms influence her husband’s future depressive symptoms, but a husband’s depressive symptoms do not influence his wife’s future symptoms. Second, we conduct a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with 29 couples wherein one or both spouses experienced depression to provide additional insight into how gender impacts depression and reactions to depression within marriage. Our study points to the importance of cultural scripts of masculinity and femininity in shaping depression and emotional processes within marriage and highlights the importance of applying a gendered couple-level approach to better understand the mental health effects of marital processes.

Demography Is the Sky Falling? Grade Inflation and the Signaling Power of Grades 
Evangeleen Pattison, Eric Grodsky, and Chandra Muller
Educational Researcher, 2013
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Abstract: Grades are the fundamental currency of our educational system; they signal academic achievement and noncognitive skills to parents, employers, postsecondary gatekeepers, and students themselves. Grade inflation compromises the signaling value of grades and undermines their capacity to achieve the functions for which they are intended. We challenge the “increases in grade point average” definition of grade inflation and argue that grade inflation must be understood in terms of the signaling power of grades. Analyzing data from four nationally representative samples, we find that in the decades following 1972: (a) grades have risen at high schools and dropped at 4-year colleges, in general, and selective 4-year institutions, in particular; and (b) the signaling power of grades has attenuated little, if at all.

DemographyProvider and patient influences on the formation of socioeconomic health behavior disparities among pregnant women 
Elaine Hernandez
Social Science & Medicine 82: 35-42, 2013
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Abstract: Socially advantaged individuals are better positioned to benefit from advances in biomedicine, which frequently results in the emergence of social inequalities in health. I use survey and in-depth interviews with pregnant women and their health care providers from four Midwestern clinics in the United States, conducted in 2009 and 2010. I compare socioeconomic differences in intake of two new prenatal supplements: Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid. Although socioeconomic differences in omega-3 fatty acid supplementation emerged, there were no differences in the use of vitamin D. I argue that providers may have contributed to the prevention of a health disparity in vitamin D supplementation by implementing an aggressive uniform protocol. These results suggest that providers not only serve as a conduit for the dissemination of new biomedical information, the strength and uniformity of their recommendations have the potential to prevent or exacerbate socioeconomic differences in health behaviors.

the information societyPregnancy as a Risk Factor for Ambulatory Limitation in Later Life
Abigail R. A. Aiken, Jacqueline L. Angel, and Toni P. Miles
American Journal of Public Health 102(12): 2330-2335, 2013
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Abstract: We investigated the relationship between the number of times a woman has been pregnant and walking difficulty in later life. With data from the Hispanic Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly, a representative population-based cohort of Mexican Americans aged 65 years and older residing in 5 Southwestern states, we measured walking difficulty using 2 items from the performance-oriented mobility assessments: the timed walk and seated chair rise. We observed significantly higher rates of ambulatory limitation among women with 6 or more pregnancies than among women with 4 or fewer pregnancies: 44.9% and 27.0%, respectively, were unable to perform or performed poorly in the seated chair rise and timed walk. Ordinal logistic regression models show that gravidity predicts level of performance in both mobility tasks and that higher gravidity is associated with worse performance, even after adjustment for both age and chronic disease. Gravidity is a risk factor for ambulatory limitation in old age. A life course approach to reproduction in public health research and practice is warranted.

Nicotine adn Tobacco ResearchSocioeconomic Disparities in Tobacco-Related Health Outcomes Across Race/Ethnic Groups in the United States: National Health Interview Survey 2010
Claire Margerison-Zilko and Catherine Cubbin
Nicotine and Tobacco Research doi:10.1093/ntr/nts256, 2012
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Abstract: INTRODUCTION: Existing research documents strong inverse socioeconomic gradients in current smoking and lung cancer morbidity and mortality; these gradients appear stronger among non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks compared with Hispanics. We sought to examine a broader range of outcomes across the tobacco use continuum, examining socioeconomic gradients separately among the 3 largest racial/ethnic groups in the United States. METHODS: We used data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (n = 17,284) Cancer Control Supplement to calculate prevalences and means for outcomes across the tobacco use continuum by educational attainment and income separately among non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic/Latino, and non-Hispanic White adults. RESULTS: Findings demonstrate that current smoking, age at initiation, cigarettes per day, years quit, and secondhand smoke all exhibit strong inverse educational gradients and moderately strong inverse income gradients, especially among Whites and Blacks. Hispanics/Latinos generally have more favorable outcomes along the tobacco use continuum and less evident socioeconomic gradients. CONCLUSIONS: Educational attainment is strongly associated with indicators across the tobacco use continuum among non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks. More research is needed to determine whether policies and programs to increase educational attainment may also reduce tobacco-related health disparities.

OBGYNHospital Variation in Postpartum Tubal Sterilization Rates in California and Texas

Joseph Potter, Amanda J. Stevenson, Kari White, Kristine Hopkins, and Daniel Grossman
Obstetrics & Gynecology 121(1):152-158, 2013
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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To estimate variation across hospitals in the rate of postpartum sterilization. METHODS: All hospitals with deliveries in California and Texas in 2009 were included. Proportion of live singleton deliveries with postpartum sterilization was calculated by hospital, insurance status (Medicaid compared with private insurance), type of delivery, and state. RESULTS: Within each insurance status in California and Texas, we found wide variations across hospitals in postpartum tubal sterilization rates. This variability was not explained by disparities in hospital cesarean delivery rates. Some, but not all, of this variation was attributable to the absence of sterilizations in Catholic hospitals. Overall, postpartum tubal sterilization rates were higher in Texas than in California (10.2% compared with 6.7%), and this difference was found among both public insurance and private insurance patients. Interval sterilizations were more frequent in California, but the difference was not large enough to offset the difference in postpartum sterilization. CONCLUSIONS: The variation in postpartum tubal sterilization rates across hospitals is substantial and exists even among hospitals without religious affiliations. Large-scale studies are needed to assess the demand for, and the barriers to, obtaining postpartum sterilization.

social indicator researchNon-poor Components of Population Growth and Immigration in the U.S., 1990-2010
Isaac Sasson and Arthur Sakamoto
Social Indicators Research DOI 10.1007/s11205-012-0214-6, 2012
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Abstract: Traditional measures of poverty are informative in indicating the degree of economic deprivation in a population at a cross-sectional point in time, but they do not consider growth in the size of the non-poverty population. We develop a measure of non-poverty population growth in order to explore whether it constitutes a useful indicator of an important demographic dynamic. We illustrate our approach with an analysis of the U.S. states using Census and American Community Survey data from 1990, 2000, and 2010. The results indicate that the extent to which the non-poor population increased across states is uncorrelated with the initial poverty rate as conventionally measured. Broken down by nativity, the findings further show that some states with official poverty rates above the national average (e.g., Arizona, Georgia, and Texas) nonetheless had some of the highest rates of non-poor population growth among less skilled immigrants. By contrast, other states with official poverty rates below the national average (e.g., Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont) often had low rates of non-poor population growth among less skilled immigrants. These findings suggest that low initial poverty rates do not necessarily contribute substantially to the alleviation of global poverty through the immigration of less skilled persons from less developed nations. However, the rate of non-poor population growth among less skilled immigrants also appears to be uncorrelated with state variation in minimum wages even after taking into account population density and median home value.

sociology of educationHigh School Transfer Students and the Transition to College: Timing and the Structure of the School Year
April Sutton, Chandra Muller, and Amy G. Langenkamp.
Sociology of Education 86(1):63-82, 2013
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Abstract: The timing of a high school transfer may shape students' transitions to college through its (mis)alignment with the structure of the school year. A transfer that occurs during the summer interrupts the four-year high school career, whereas a transfer that occurs midyear disrupts both the four-year high school career and the structure of the school year. Using the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), the investigators find that the penalty suffered after the transfer depends on the degree to which students' high school pathways synchronize with the curricular and extracurricular structure of the school year. Midyear transfer students appear to suffer the greatest postsecondary matriculation penalty. Students who transfer midyear are less likely to attend a four-year college compared with nontransfer and summer transfer students, whereas summer transfer students are less likely to attend a highly selective four-year college compared with their nontransfer counterparts. Curricular and extracurricular disruptions that transfer students experience after their school move explain some, but not all, of the negative associations observed between transferring and the transition to college. Directions for future research and the theoretical and policy implications of the results are discussed.

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