2010–11 Pilot Projects

Life Worth Living: Motivation to Help Others, Public Service and Life Satisfaction

PIs: Thomas DeLeire, associate professor, population health sciences and Donald Moynihan, Associate Professor, public affairs
Abstract: This pilot project seeks to understand how career choices affect an individual’s sense of life satisfaction. In particular, we seek to understand whether individuals who have spent a considerable period of their life engaged in public service or in volunteering express greater overall life satisfaction at the end of their careers. We will use the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study for this project.

Intra-Couple and Intergenerational Exchanges of Support in Older American Families

PIs: Robert M. Hauser, Vilas Research Professor Emeritus, sociology, and Claire Noel-Miller, research fellow, Center for Demography and Ecology
Abstract: This project will examine intra-couple receipt of care for disabled seniors in the context of cohabitation and marital union. It will also investigate the intergenerational support and the effect of fathers’ re-partnering following divorce on their relations with their adult children after mid-life. Data from the Health and Retirement Study will be used to study these issues.

Race, Class, Gender and C-reactive Protein

PI: Pamela Herd, associate Professor, sociology
Abstract: Race, class, and gender disparities in health have been persistent over historical time and over the individual life course leading social epidemiologists to argue that they are ‘fundamental’ causes of health. Racial disparities in cardiovascular mortality, for example, have been rising over the latter half of the 20th century. Further, class and gender play critical roles in shaping race disparities. Race disparities in morbidity and mortality, in part, are a product of socioeconomic differences between Blacks and Whites. Race differences also vary by gender. For example, race differences are larger among women as compared to men for outcomes like cardiovascular mortality and associated behavioral risk factors like obesity. One promising pathway to understanding how racial disparities get underneath the skin is to focus on biological risk factors or marker for disease. One such marker is C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation.

Intergenerational Transmission of Inequalities

PI: Alberto Palloni, Samuel Preston Professor, sociology
Abstract: This project Refines existing and formulates new data matching procedures to make inference from different data sets about effects of parental involvement on children’s educational attainment and subsequent labor market experiences. I propose to use ECLS-K and NLSY (children) to experiment with different data matching algorithms that will permit the creation of artificial cohorts from which inferences about early environments on later experiences can be made. The resulting estimates can then be combined with information on assortative mating and differential fertility to understand the dynamics of effects across generations. The latter will be made possible by using standard stable and quasi stable population analysis.

Where Does the Time Go? Gender, Racial, and Educational Differences in Time Use Among Older Adults

PIs: Stephanie Robert, Professor, social work, and John Mullahy, professor, Population health sciences
Abstract: There is growing interest in older adults’ contributions to society particularly through volunteer and care work and understanding racial/ethnic differences in these contributions. We examine gender, racial/ethnic, and educational differences in time use among older adults across the following seven competing time use categories: leisure, caring for someone in the household, caring for someone outside the household, volunteering, work, sleep, and household tasks/personal care. Specifically, we examine whether there are racial/ethnic differences in time spent providing care work versus engaging in volunteer activities. We use time use daily diary data from the combined 2003-2008 American Time Use Surveys for adults 65 and older (n=11,966). Novel econometric share equation techniques allow us to compare predictors of time use across seven competing time use categories. Preliminary results indicate that there are no racial/ethnic differences in the amount of time spent on volunteering or care work, even among women. Women spend more time than men in volunteer activities, and less time in leisure activities, though men spend more time in paid work. Across gender and racial groups, greater education is associated with more time volunteering and less time in leisure activity among older adults.