New Pilot Projects on Health and Aging

Since 1999, the Center for Demography of Health and Aging (CDHA) has been a hub for research that takes a life course approach to understanding variation in health and other dimensions of well-being. In 2017, three faculty affiliates received funding through CDHA’s core center grant (P30 AG017266) from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to launch pilot projects relating to these two major themes.

Jenna Nobles (sociology) will lead “Aging through a Nutritional Transition: The Effects of Early-Life Scarcity on Later-Life Health.” Using data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey, Nobles will measure childhood nutritional conditions and health trajectories at older ages to determine the effects of early life scarcity on later life.

“Who Enjoys an Immigrant Health Advantage? Nativity, Race/Ethnicity, and Population Health Patterns,” led by Michal Engelman (sociology), examines the health of America’s diverse foreign-born population in the context of racial/ethnic disparities in the U.S. Through the analysis of National Health Interview Survey data, Engelman and her team hope to uncover whether, and how, socioeconomic characteristics, health behaviors, and the incorporation experiences of immigrants contribute to their health outcomes.

Kristen Malecki’s (population health sciences) pilot, “The Social Epigenomics of Health Disparities: How Different Dimensions of Disadvantage Get under the Skin,” will use data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin to study how individual and neighborhood characteristics operate to shape health disparities through epigenetic mechanisms that accelerate biological aging. Malecki aims to test the hypothesis that differences in biological aging exist across socio-demographically matched subpopulations.