2011–12 Pilot Projects

Early Childhood Conditions, Reproduction of Socioeconomic Inequalities and the Persistence of Health Disparities

PI: Alberto Palloni, Samuel Preston Professor, sociology
Abstract: This project assesses the influence that early life conditions exert on adult outcomes and on adult health disparities. It opens up two new avenues of research, one substantive and the other methodological. On the substantive front we are attempting to account for the education health gradient using information on early childhood. The second path of research is purely methodological: we are utilizing combined data sets (WLS, NLSY-C, ECLS-K, NCDS58 and British Cohort 197) to carry out a fully comparative, cross country analysis.

Meta Analysis of the Effect of Education on Mortality

PI: James R. Walker, professor, economics
Abstract: For at least four reasons education is commonly used to proxy for socioeconomic status. First, education is an omnibus variable that influences alternative measures of socioeconomic status such as income, wealth, and occupation. Second, education is determined early into adulthood and before the onset of most chronic diseases. Therefore, education is less susceptible to problems of reverse causality as are income and wealth. Third, educational attainment is easier to measure than are say occupation or concepts such as social status or prestige. Fourth, there is an array of public policies designed to increase educational attainment. Consequently, identifying link between education and health and mortality offers direct, concrete and constructive guidance on beneficial public interventions to increase health or longevity. Nevertheless, education is heterogeneous and many different measures appear in the literature. This project will use a meta analysis of the educational gradient of mortality over the life course. The protective effects of education on health and the inverse relationship between education and (the timing of) mortality are among the most stable and most common findings in the broad literature investigating the relationship between socioeconomic status and mortality. The meta analysis will summarize effects of the quantity of education and of the effects of quality of education. There is a burgeoning literature on the effect of early life investments and adult health outcomes. Understanding and assessing these studies will be an important part of the meta analysis.

The Impact of Preconception Health, Social Support, and Stress on Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes

PI: Whitney P. Witt, assistant professor, population health sciences
Abstract: There is a dearth of research examining the effects of health, social support, and stress prior to pregnancy and subsequent obstetric outcomes. The purpose of this study will be to evaluate the impact of preconception health, social support, and stress on pregnancy and birth outcomes among a nationally-representative sample of women and their babies. Multivariate logistic regression models will be developed to examine obstetric outcomes using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B).