Rapid Pilots

2023-2024 Call for Proposals

Our 2023-2024 Call for Proposals has closed. You can review 2023-2024 Rapic Pilot Awardees below! 

The program is open to faculty, academic research staff (e.g. Research Scientists), and postdoctoral fellows with an interest in aging. We welcome proposals from UW-Madison affiliates as well as scholars who work in institutions without an NIH population center. Priority will be given to early career scholars.

Applicants may request up to $25,000 in direct costs. Expenses can include graduate research assistant (with associated tuition and fringe costs), faculty salary support, data collection costs, travel costs, and materials and supplies necessary for the proposed research.

Please submit a 2 page proposal describing the project (Significance and Approach) and its relationship to the CDHA signature themes. Please include a Biosketch, budget, and brief justification. Questions may be directed to Michal Engelman: mengelman@wisc.edu. Please submit your completed proposal as a single PDF including all components via email to Aaron Crandall aaron.crandall@wisc.edu.

Pilot projects should result in presentations, at least one published paper, and when appropriate, a grant application related to the pilot work. Recipients are expected to report on the outcome of the pilot in summer 2024 and in subsequent years, and cite CDHA (P30 AG017266) as a source of funding support for any publications or presentations that emerge from this funding.

Applications will be reviewed starting Nov 1, 2023, but additional proposals may be considered on a rolling basis, depending on the availability of funds. Applications will be reviewed and a decision made quickly, contingent on NIA review and approval. Awards are anticipated to be supported from November 2023-June 2024. Please note that a separate call for proposals in the Spring semester will support projects in the 2024-25 academic year.

2023-2024 Rapid Pilot Awardees

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"Family Structure, Wealth, and Wellbeing in Retirement"

Lindsay Jacobs (Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, UW-Madison)

Description: As millions of Americans enter into their retirement years, they do so holding varying degrees of both material resources—such as housing and financial wealth—and non-material resources— such as health and family support. One dimension along which resources differ is marital status and history, with people who are married having, on average, more of both types of resources. At the same time, family structure has changed over the past several decades, with several notable trends emerging, including a smaller number of children per family, later and reduced rates of marriage, increased incidence of divorce and step children and siblings. As family structures change, what can we expect for upcoming retirees? In this work, I present differences across household family structures in financial and non-financial wealth, retirement income and annuities, and health. I then examine the behavior behind such differences through a life-cycle model of retirement timing, savings, and portfolio choice, which incorporates differences in household structures, health, and longevity expectations using data from both the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF).

"Estimating the role of rurality in underreporting COVID-19 deaths at the county level"

Malia Jones (Assistant Professor of Community & Environmental Sociology, UW-Madison) & Raeven Chandler (Applied Population Laboratory, UW-Madison)

Description: Accurate data is essential for quality population health research. Thoroughly understanding the impacts of places on COVID-19 mortality and factors predicting racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities in COVID-19 mortality require an accurate accounting of COVID-19 mortality itself. Yet presently, our accounting of COVID-19-ascribed mortality is systematically incorrect. In this pilot project, our goal is to better understand the geographic patterns of COVID-19 mortality and the underreporting of deaths due to COVID-19. We will achieve this goal through two aims in this pilot project: Aim 1 – Estimate excess deaths by county and month from 2020 through June 2023, and Aim 2 – Identify whether a geographic pattern exists in the underreporting of COVID-19 deaths.

“Re-examining recent mortality inequality trends in the U.S.”

Nick Mark (Assistant Professor of Sociology, UW-Madison) & Héctor Pifarré i Arolas (Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, UW-Madison), “Re-examining recent mortality inequality trends in the U.S.”

Description: Recent increases in mortality inequality between educational groups in the US have drawn attention from academics, the media, and the public. The gap in life expectancy between those with and without a bachelor’s degree has increased monotonically since 1992 and is currently the highest it has been in decades, at 8.5 years. These trends are highly correlated with rising material inequality in the US, with the income gap between the top and the bottom also steadily increasing over this period. As income is well-known to affect health an increasing mortality gap between higher- and lower-educated groups makes intuitive sense. However, the increasing mortality gap between those with and without a BA occurred at the same time as another well-documented demographic trend: the decline in lifespan inequality at the population level that occurred from 1990-2010. Then from 2010 onwards, total lifespan inequality began increasing, in tandem with educational inequality. These trends pose a puzzle; how can overall inequality decline while between-group inequality increases? The answer must lie in three factors: (1) changes in the selection into group membership, (2) changes in the relative group sizes, and (3) changes in the rewards to group membership. We propose to address this puzzle using both novel tools and a traditional demographic decomposition method. The results have important implications for our understanding of trends in between-group inequality, and the potential role of policy for counteracting those trends.

“Cohort Change in Timing and Rates of Marital Dissolution: A Case of Baby Boomer Exceptionalism?”

Christine Schwartz (Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Sociology, UW-Madison)

Description: This project compares the timing and rates of marital dissolution across birth cohorts with a particular focus on Baby Boomers, given their outsized role in population-level change. Of particular interest is the extent to which Baby Boomers are exceptional in terms of their age patterns and rates of marital dissolution across their lives, from when they were in their mid-20s through their older ages. We also examine the extent to which the timing of marital dissolution varies by children’s ages and home-leaving, how this has changed, and how this varies by parents’ education levels. Has the timing of divorce become more (or less) organized around children’s home-leaving and how does this vary by parents’ education? To analyze these questions, we use combined data from the NSFG and HRS, which gives us information on cohort born between the 1920s and 1980s across a very wide age range (25 to 100+ years of age). With these data, we can evaluate the extent to which the “gray divorce revolution” can be explained by delayed fertility and home-leaving among children as well as compare patterns of divorce across cohorts at younger ages. The combined NSFG and HRS data is the result of my successful NIH R03 “The Divorce Decline and Relationship Stability: 1970-2019.” The R03 project focuses on period trends in divorce and marital dissolution rates. I look forward to using these data to examine aging and the timing of divorce at the individual level. There is much to explore using this new data resource. We will use Cox proportional hazard models to estimate differences in the timing of marital dissolution by cohort and how the timing relates to children’s ages. This involves using two “clocks” – duration since marriage as well as age of youngest child.

“Early Life Exposure to the Green Revolution and Aging Outcomes: Evidence from the LASI”

Lauren Schmitz (Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, UW-Madison)

Description: This proposal will contribute to our understanding of how early life conditions impact aging by evaluating whether early life exposure to the Green Revolution (GR) affected long-term cognitive and physical aging outcomes in India. The GR is arguably the most significant shock to agricultural productivity gains in LMICs and one of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century. The GR began in the 1960s with the development of high-yield crop variants (HYV), which dramatically increased the yield of major crops, mainly wheat and rice. Due to its success, it was adopted worldwide to produce more food for growing populations. Studies to date suggest GR technologies contributed to substantial increases in crop production, food security, GDP per capita, and declines in food prices, poverty, fertility, and child mortality. Conversely, research also indicates the GR had adverse effects on health in midlife due to increases in agrochemical usage and caloric intake. However, the long-term impacts of early-life exposure to the GR have not been explored.

“Does Health Insurance Reduce Consumption Risk?”

Anita Mukherjee (Associate Professor of Risk and Insurance, UW-Madison) & Dan Sacks (Associate Professor of Risk and Insurance, UW-Madison)

Description: We investigate the impact of health insurance on consumption by leveraging the variation arising from state-level decisions regarding Medicaid expansion in 2014. The effect of health insurance on consumption is ex-ante ambiguous due to the presence of unpaid medical debt and the option to receive charity care directly from healthcare providers. Using a combination of difference-in-differences and changes-in-changes specifications, our study preliminarily finds that there is no statistically significant effect of this health insurance expansion on consumption, even at the lower end of the consumption distribution. This research contributes to the existing knowledge on the insurance value of Medicaid expansion. For the next steps, we will conduct a battery of robustness checks using alternative data sets, benchmark our results against other estimates of Medicaid’s costs and benefits, and prepare the manuscript and disseminate our work through various outlets.

“Disability, Time Use, and Labor Market Behavior: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey”

John Mullahy (Professor of Population Health Sciences, UW-Madison) & Mariétou Ouayogodé (Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences, UW-Madison)

Description: Disability affects labor market participation and, more generally, decisions about how to allocate time. In turn these decisions have implications for social program participation, intensity of use of social programs (e.g. Medicare-insured healthcare utilization), savings, wealth accumulation, and future health status. As such the onset and duration of disability may be key influences on disparities in social program participation, wealth, health, and other key aspects of well being. The proposed project aspires to enhance understanding of these connections and to explore how they may vary by race and ethnicity. The proposed project will utilize data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) for the years 2008-2022 merged with data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) whose respondents are a superset of the ATUS respondents. The proposed project uses earlier papers as a foundation, extending their scope in several directions of relevance in addressing the SSA priorities.

“Parenthood in later life and older adults' risk of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD)”

Yan Zhang (Assistant Professor of Sociology, East Carolina University)

Description: This study aims to investigate whether older people’s parental status and parent-child relationship could be potential risk or protective factors that have impact on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). Increasing longevity as well as the growing rate of childlessness, divorce, remarriage, and stepfamilies, all make family formations and parenting experience more complex than a few decades ago, placing challenges in family caregiving. Moreover, adult children are often the primary caregivers who provide parents with intensive support, both economically and emotionally. While previous research has examined social connections as a determinant of dementia, the role of parent-child bonds has been largely overlooked. Therefore, our project seeks to examine the association between parenthood in later life and the risk of ADRD. The project has three specific aims: (1) To comprehensively examine the components of later life parenthood, including both parental status and parent-child relationship quality, and their association with the risk of ADRD. (2) To investigate potential mechanisms linking parenthood and dementia based on the “resource and stress model.” (3) To examine gender and racial variations in the parenthood-ADRD linkage in both the direct effect (Aim 1) and potential mediating effect (Aim 2). To achieve these aims, we will use a longitudinal, population-based dataset from the Health Retirement Study. Discrete time event history models and formal mediation analysis will be used as analytical strategies.

“A Life Course Approach to Examining Risk Factors of Multimorbidity among Aging Mothers and Midlife Child Dyads: Evidence from Add Health and the Add Health Parent Study”

Xing (Sherry) Zhang (Assistant Professor in the College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University)

 Description: Multimorbidity, or the prevalence of at least two chronic diseases, is a highly significant public health issue and has been linked to premature death, declined physical functioning and lower quality of life. Due to the lengthened transition to adulthood for midlife children, including delays in college degree completion, living independently, finding a full-time job, and getting married, the interdependency of aging mothers and midlife children has increased. Changes in aging-mother and midlife child relationships coupled with growing health disparities by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status require a dyadic perspective on documenting the timing, risk factors, and explanations for gaps in multimorbidity and health across groups. I will use two datasets to assess multimorbidity among aging mothers and midlife children: 1) The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) for midlife children, and 2) the aging mother sample within the Add Health Parent Study (AHPS). The project has three specific aims: (1) Determine the magnitude, timing, key risk factors, and mechanisms of multimorbidity across socioeconomic status among aging mothers; (2) Identify the magnitude, timing, key risk factors, and mechanisms that explain variation in multimorbidity by SES, race/ethnicity, and gender among midlife children; and (3) Evaluate the degree of intergenerational transmission of multimorbidity and key risk factors on mental health among aging mother and midlife child dyads. This project will be the first to identify the timing, risk factors, and mechanisms for multimorbidity among aging mothers and their midlife children using nationally representative, dyadic data. This study holds the promise to inform public policies by identifying key targets for intervention such as financial transfers, tax credits to complete higher education, and social service programs to reduce the onset and prevalence of multimorbidity.