Does Fertility Behavior Spread Among Friends?

In the past few years there has been a growing recognition of the effect of peers on an individual’s behaviour. Recent sociological literature has shown, for instance, that friends influence each other in areas such as smoking, drinking, and how much we exercise. In our recently published paper, we examine the influence of friends on an individual’s decision to have a child. So far, research on fertility behavior has largely neglected the fact that people are embedded in social networks, thereby failing to acknowledge that couples do not make fertility choices in a vacuum.

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Mortality in the Years of Recession: Evidence from Greece

Historical evidence strongly supports that economic growth and prosperity have been associated to declining mortality rates. To reinforce this principle, infant mortality and life expectancy are widely used as living standard indicators in cross-regional comparisons. While positive economic and social developments are concretized as gains in life expectancy, the recessionary implications on mortality rates are not that straightforward. Whether severe economic downturns affect the aggregate death rates has been the focus of much research, and findings are mixed. They appear to be sensitive to the choice of country, to the time period examined, and the length and intensity of the economic downturns.

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Occupational Segregation and Persistent Labor Market Inequality Among People with Disabilities

In a September essay, I wrote about a recently published paper by myself and Michelle Maroto that sought to uncover possible reasons why the Americans with Disabilities Act had not delivered when it came to improving employment outcomes.  While we focused our attention mainly on institutional, state-level and individual characteristics over time, we noted that important supply-and-demand factors—especially occupational structures—are key to understanding barriers to the labor market, as well as poor earnings.

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Grasping the Diversity of Cohabitation: Fertility Intentions Among Cohabiters Across Europe

The rising importance of unmarried cohabitation in the demographic landscape is part of a whole array of ongoing changes in families and relationships in contemporary Europe; for example fewer people marry, more marriages end in divorce and fewer children are born than in the past. The diversity in the ways in which cohabiters view their relationship has consequences for the plans and behaviour of cohabiters in these relationships. In our recently published paper, we examine the association between different meanings of cohabitation and plans to have children.

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Did the “Americans with Disabilities Act” Help or Hurt People with Disabilities?

When Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) nearly a quarter of a century ago, many inside and outside the government saw it as the most important piece of civil rights legislation since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, since taking effect in 1992, employment among people with disabilities has declined. In 2012, just 18 percent of working age people with disabilities were employed compared to 64 percent of people without disabilities, while earnings among disabled workers have been largely stagnant over the last twenty years. People with disabilities make an average of 14,500 dollars less than persons without disabilities. It may seem perfectly reasonable to assume that the introduction of the legislation “caused” an overall decline in the economic well being of people with disabilities. However, as is often the case, the relationship between antidiscrimination legislation and labor market outcomes is far more complicated.

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Should We Call “Life Expectancy” Something Else?

The most widely used indicator of the level of mortality in any population is the life expectancy at birth. This is entirely appropriate as the measure is usually an excellent reflection of the overall mortality conditions of a given year or other period. Similar calculations can be made for life expectancy any age, but the value at birth is by far the most commonly encountered in general discussion of health and mortality.

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Why Mothers in Slums May Prefer the Informal Healthcare Sector: Lessons from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Infant and child mortality has declined dramatically across the globe in recent decades, in large part due to public health measures such as universal vaccination, better nutrition and improved health care services. However, deaths remain much higher in poor disadvantaged populations, in part, because of such issues as lower vaccination rates. A critical issue is the delay in infants obtaining skilled health services during illness. Children’s caregivers may not initially realise the seriousness of the child’s condition and as a result may not access appropriate health services. Key inhibiting factors are limited knowledge of critical symptoms and restricted access to professional advice. In addition the caregivers may lack quick and affordable access to appropriate services. Continue reading

Flooding Across Borders? Are Environmental Problems Causing International Migration?

Nearly 30 years ago, the term “environmental refugee” came into regular use, and today’s incarnation – the “climate change refugee” – continues to provoke popular and political interest. Using the term “environmental/climate refugee” to describe people who move for environmental reasons (e.g. drought, flooding, pollution, natural disasters) has, however, sparked numerous debates. The disputes are partially related to the fact that the legal definition of a refugee does not include protection for people displaced by the environment. In addition, it can be difficult to disentangle environmental from other motivations for migration, such as economic and political ones. Continue reading

Missing Out on College: The Role of Family Instability in Educational Attainment in the United States

The value and meaning of a college education in the United States has perhaps never been more contentious than it is today. Media and political attention highlight rising tuition rates, soaring student debt, and an anemic entry-level job market for recent college graduates. Fewer than 60 percent of students who begin post-secondary education earn a Bachelor’s degree within six years. At the same time, scholars and activists have argued that increased access to college education and improved retention to graduation may be the most effective pair of strategies available to increase social mobility and ameliorate economic inequality while expanding economic growth.

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Minimalists, Gamblers, and Pioneers: How Future Aspirations Offer Insight in to Current Complexities

Studies of contraceptive use reveal intersecting, and often competing, life realms that individuals navigate when making fertility decisions. The decision of whether or not to use contraception is only in part a decision about one’s desire for a child; it is also a consideration of potential career tradeoffs, social network repercussions, financial resources, and the development of one’s identity as an adult – man or woman. Alternatively, a laissez faire approach to pregnancy prevention can be equally revealing of an individual’s or couple’s negotiations through other important life goals.

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