Health and Population

Scholars of the Health and Population cluster study the sociological causes and consequences of dynamics and differences in aging, migration, fertility, mortality, health, and well-being. We have distinctive expertise in cross-national comparisons, social capital, health inequalities, and cultural analysis.

News related to Health & Population

Mary Brinton stands in front of a building on Harvard's Cambridge campus.

Gender Equity and Low Fertility in Postindustrial Societies

May 17, 2016

Progress towards gender equality was substantial on many fronts in the decades leading up to the 1990s. Since then, movement towards gender equality has slowed. The gender wage gap has narrowed at a slower pace in the past 20 years, and the same can be said for occupational sex segregation. Postindustrial societies show variation in these patterns and in the consequences that ensue. 

Salvadoran Mothers Incarcerated for Stillbirths

Salvadoran Mothers Incarcerated for Stillbirths

September 14, 2015

Between 1989 and 2009, six Latin American nations passed total abortion bans.  Women in these countries are now denied abortions under every circumstance, even when a pregnancy may put their lives at risk.  In El Salvador, the passage of a total abortion ban was additionally followed by a steep rise in the incarceration of women for the “aggravated homicide” of their “newborns,” often with 30-40 year prison sentences.

Death by Design: A Global Approach to Social Inequalities in Health

Death by Design: A Global Approach to Social Inequalities in Health

April 10, 2015

Why do some people live long lives, while others die prematurely? What does the accident of birth in one place rather than another tell us about how human-designed social institutions write the rules of life and death? Why are race, class, and gender stronger social determinants of health in some places and times, and weaker in other times and places?

Explaining Low Fertility in Postindustrial Societies

Explaining Low Fertility in Postindustrial Societies

August 16, 2014

Why are so many young people in certain regions of the postindustrial world delaying marriage and children, or not moving forward at all on either front?  Southern European and East Asian countries now universally have birth rates that are far below what is required to naturally replace their populations. This is leading to rapid population aging and the specter of lowered economic productivity. To unravel the reasons behind historically unprecedented low birth rates, Mary Brinton (Reischauer Institute Professor of Sociology) is leading a team of international collaborators in a five-country comparative study of gender equality and fertility.

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