Family and Intergenerational Influences on Health and Wellbeing

a PDHP primary research area

Our affiliates conduct research that reaches across the field of demography, but the Population Studies Center (PSC) – of which the PDHP is a part – has always had exceptional strength in family demography. Many of our key projects examine consequences of the social, political and economic context on family and intergenerational change, including the natural environment, and projects that serve large consortia of scientists spread across research institutions beyond the University of Michigan (UM). Cornerstone data collections lead by our affiliates serve family and intergenerational scientists around the world, including the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its companion Child Development Supplement (CDS) and Transition to Adulthood Study (TAS), and the Chitwan Valley Family Study (CVFS).

Two key factors blend to create especially high significance of our projects in family and intergenerational influences on health and wellbeing: (1) synergistic collaboration between population scale focused demographers and large-scale data collection focused survey methodologists; and (2) the broad interdisciplinary collaborative environment at PSC, the Institute for Social Research, and UM. One key example is the ongoing streams of research that begin with economic context as a starting point, but then blend the social connections among family members with individual-level psychological realities (attitudes, beliefs, mental health) to advance our understanding of family and intergenerational influences on health and wellbeing. A second is the tremendous advance in knowledge of genetic influence on health and wellbeing – a factor that for decades has loomed in all studies of family and intergenerational influences as a crucial missing variable with the potential to explain any other observed association. Both of these highly significant domains of collaborative science are vibrant clusters of constant research activity among PHDP affiliates.

Some of the key innovations in this primary research area include: (1) a new generation of rigorous, secure, internet based data collection tools that increase the flexibility of measurement and can be linked to other electronic innovations, such as in-home parentally administered computerized assessments for young children; (2) new approaches to blending existing electronic records with survey measures to assess the parental economic context of parenting decisions; (3) genetic collaboration that goes beyond large scale field work that collects DNA from families to collaborative interdisciplinary science that uses social and economic context to inform models of parents’ genetic dispositions to specific reactions in intergenerational models; and (4) new approaches for executing FMRI tests for very young children to measure the brain growth consequences of parental behaviors.

On-Campus Faculty Affiliates

William G. Axinn, Sociology
C. Hoyt Bleakley, Economics
Erin A. Cech, Sociology
Kao-Ping Chua, Health Management & Policy
Michael R. Elliott, Biostatistics
Dirgha J. Ghimire, Sociology and Demography
Joe LaBriola, SRC, CID
David Lam, Economics
Robert Manduca, Sociology
Katherine Michelmore, Public Policy
Sarah Miller, Economics & public policy
Mike Mueller-Smith, Economics
Alexandra Murphy, Sociology and Social Policy
Natasha Pilkauskas, Social Welfare Policy
Narayan Sastry, Public Affairs and Demography
Kristin Seefeldt, Public Policy and Sociology
H. Luke Shaefer, Social Work
Matthew D. Shapiro, Economics
Arland Thornton, Sociology
Emily Treleaven, Social Epidemiology
Dean Yang, Economics
Yun Zhou, Sociology


Off-Campus Faculty Affiliates

Emma Zang, Sociology
Nicardo McInnis, Economics