Nine Affiliates Secure New Federal Grants from NICHD

Over the last few months, several CDE affiliates received grants from NICHD to explore a range of topics affecting population dynamics and health. Congratulations to Lawrence Berger and Jennifer Dykema, Marcy Carlson, Monica Grant, Katherine Magnuson and Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Jenna Nobles and Felix Elwert, and Alejandra Ros Pilarz!

Lawrence Berger is the PI for the NICHD R01 “Improving Data Collection of Debt and Financial Strain to Assess Health Impacts of Economic Insecurity.” Jennifer Dykema is a co-Investigator. In recent decades, individual and household debt has played an increasingly important role in the dynamics of economic inequality and insecurity in the United States. However, limitations of current data impede scientific understanding of the role of indebtedness in reducing or exacerbating economic insecurity for low-income families. This project consists of a multi-pronged data collection and analysis effort aimed at building a stronger data infrastructure, more adequate and accurate measures of indebtedness, and best practices for analyzing various forms of indebtedness and their relation to economic hardship and financial strain for low-income families.

Marcy Carlson, together with co-PI Kelly Musick (Cornell), received an NICHD R25 grant to launch a new undergraduate research education program, NextGenPop: Recruiting the Next Generation of Scholars into Population Research. The program aims to increase the pipeline of scholars from underrepresented backgrounds entering the field of population science. Coordinated across five leading universities, the program will include two weeks on campus, followed by virtual components focused on research and professional development. The first cohort will be hosted at UW–Madison May 31-June14, 2022. This effort ultimately aims to advance the body of demographic and public health knowledge to more fully reflect the diversity of human populations today. More on the program is coming soon!

Monica Grant received an NICHD R03 grant for “Reproductive Outcomes and Schooling Expansion for Men in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Uganda.” The project explores a set of complementary analyses focused on the reproductive consequences of schooling expansion for men. Using secondary data from the Demographic and Health Surveys, Grant will explore how boys’ schooling expansion is related to shifting reproductive and attitudinal norms. She will also examine how shifts in the educational composition of husbands and wives over time is associated with reproductive outcomes and couples’ decision-making. These analyses will contribute to the overall understanding of how education influences demographic behavior and the changing contributions of men’s and women’s schooling to reproductive outcomes over time.

CDE Director Jenna Nobles received an NICHD R21 to lead “Impact of COVID-19 Exposure on U.S. Birth Outcomes.” Together with Florencia Torche and Deirdre Lyell (Stanford) and CDE affiliate Felix Elwert, Nobles uses early-release birth records from contracts with state health departments to estimate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on population fertility and on pregnancy and birth outcomes. The research identifies communities and subpopulations in which the pandemic has had the largest impact, and in which lasting effects for the next generation may unfold.

Katherine MagnusonSarah Halpern-Meekin, and colleagues received an NICHD supplement to introduce questions about COVID-mitigation behaviors to the Baby’s First Years study, their landmark research on unconditional cash gifts and child development.

Alejandra Ros Pilarz received an NICHD K01 for the project “Understanding Trends in Mothers’ Work Schedules: Implications for Child Health and Development.” For the study, Pilarz will document and explain trends in mothers’ work hours and schedules over the past 30 years and assess how the associations between mothers’ work schedules, mothers’ time with children, and childcare arrangements have changed as a result of increased public spending on childcare and early education programs. She will also determine how mothers’ work schedules are associated with children’s health and developmental outcomes in a contemporary, nationally representative sample of U.S. children. The project will generate novel findings on how mothers’ employment matters for child health and development. The findings will inform public policy decisions about how to best support families and improve child health and well-being.