Bob Schoeni recognized with U-M Research Faculty Achievement Award

October 05, 2009

Research FacultyAchievement Award,Robert SchoeniRobert Schoeni, researchprofessor, Survey ResearchCenter, Population StudiesCenter, ISR; professor ofeconomics, Department ofEconomics, LSA; and professorof public policy, Gerald R. Ford School of PublicPolicy, is a scientist whose visionhas facilitated the collectionand dissemination of themost influential data availablein the social sciences.Not only have his individualscientific contributions beenconsiderable; even more importantly,his leadership onthe widely used Panel Surveyof Income Dynamics hasprovided the tools and ideasnecessary for an entire generationof scholars to moveforward on economic anddemographic research.An economist and demographer,Schoeni has becomemore interdisciplinary overtime, bringing to bear themethods and knowledgeof different disciplines toa variety of problems. Hiscontributions to economicsbegan with work on familytransfers in which he demonstratedthat whereas duringtheir lifetimes parents tendto target transfers to theirless well-off children, inheritancestend to be dividedequally among children.Another major area ofSchoeni’s research hasconcerned the question ofwhether disability among theaged has been declining overtime.Perhaps Schoeni’s mostimportant and lasting contributionis his leadership onthe Panel Survey of IncomeDynamics (PSID), whichunder his stewardship hasmoved into the 21st century.Under his guidance the PSIDhas improved in content,accessibility and usefulness,and now is the key instrumentin a growing numberof important projects. He hasshaped the survey’s contentand in doing so has shapedmuch future research in thesocial sciences.The PSID recently hasexpanded scientific inquiriesinto the strong connectionsbetween health and socioeconomicphenomena overthe entire life course, fromchildhood to later life stages.Schoeni has worked withthe PSID’s team to expandthe data on consumer expendituresand also healthstatus and behaviors, thusopening up new opportunitiesfor advances in science.The PSID has been named asone of the National ScienceFoundation’s “Nifty Fifty,” theonly social science project toreceive this distinction.Schoeni serves on a NationalAcademy of Sciencespanel on the Census Bureau’sDynamics of EconomicWell-Being System, and hefounded the NIA-supportedTRENDS Research Network,whose mission is to fostercollaborative research aroundthe world by conducting researchand evaluating trendsin old-age disability.