Gender differences in child health and mortality pose a critical challenge for public health surveillance and policy in India. Recent Sample Registration System (SRS) reports indicate that female children experience higher mortality than boys. The 2012 SRS report pointed to a significant gap (9 per 1000 live births) in under-five mortality rates between males and females. However, the nature of gender differentials in child mortality is changing.
Income inequality has risen to prominence as one of the central political issues of our time. Since the Great Recession, protests linked to the Occupy movement have occurred in many different countries around the world, often under slogans such as “We are the 99%”. A recent survey by the World Economic Forum of 700 elite decision-makers identified “Severe income disparity” as the 4th most concerning global risk in 2014. And 68% of investors responding to a recent Bloomberg Global Poll said that governments should confront the problem of income inequality. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, reiterated these concerns when she spoke to the Financial Times early last year.
Declining marriage rates in many societies, in particular among the poorer and disadvantaged population groups, has sparked growing interest. Current debates are often focused on whether the ‘failure’ to marry signifies deficiencies on the part of the individual, or insufficient societal resourcing of some groups to make them ‘marriageable’. Concerns are frequently expressed about old age being a grim prospect for the never-married, due to the lack of care and support from a spouse and adult children. In aggregate, such views and debates convey a negative picture of singlehood, and of unmarried people who are seen as especially problematic when they become old.
Population ageing, together with low economic growth, has put pressure on the financial equilibrium of many pension systems in Europe and other industrialized countries, forcing governments to increase the average retirement age. An extended working life – combined with the rapid technological progress taking place in many sectors – is likely to render the skills older workers attained at school obsolete. In this context, lifelong investment in training is a key strategy for increasing, or at least limiting the decline in, the productivity of older workers.
Research from biology and psychology has shown that the prenatal period is sensitive to the environment and critical for later development. While the effects of toxins such as alcohol and nicotine on the fetus are well documented, the effect of maternal stress is more difficult to assess. The main reason is unobserved selectivity. Women who experience or report high levels of stress may be different from those who don’t in ways that affect their pregnancies, making it impossible to disentangle the effect of stress from its common correlates. The question is important because stress is widespread, stratified along socioeconomic and racial lines, and may be a central mechanism for the noxious effect of poverty or discrimination on children. We examine the effect of maternal stress and address the unobserved selectivity problem in a recent ASR article.
With an estimated 1 out of every 68 children in the US (CDC, 2014) and 1 out of every 100 children in the UK (NAS, 2014) diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), it is clear that ASD now poses a substantial health burden. Although these statistics are striking, they are taken from the top two countries producing ASD research publications. The US and the UK are two countries of many, and both are prominent developed nations—what is the global prevalence of ASD beyond the US and the UK? As of 2012, only a few studies have investigated prevalence in middle-income countries and no prevalence estimates have been reported for low-income countries, resulting in an incomplete global prevalence figure. Continue reading
It has become increasingly obvious that suicide attempts and deaths have both social and psychological causes. Though people in general are more familiar with the idea that psychological problems, such as depression, can put someone at risk of suicide, exposure to messages about suicide through our personal relationships or through the media also can increase an individual’s vulnerability to attempting suicide by making suicide seem like more of an option. Comedian Robin Williams’ suicide – and comments made online about his tragic passing and amazing life - illustrated the tension between our seemingly-innate desire to talk about and make sense of why people take their own life and the danger that irresponsible reporting or romanticizing comments may pose. Continue reading
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.
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.
In a September Openpop.org 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.