The Population Studies Center Year in Review: 2023

December 05, 2023

As we celebrate and look ahead to the new year, we’d like to share some of the highlights we’ve seen at PSC in 2023, and toast the excellence in population research and training that they represent. Thanks to the Population Studies Center’s thriving community and cheers to these 12 accomplishments and many more.

Image Source: The New York Times. The richest Black women have infant mortality rates at about the same level as the poorest white women.

1. Research from PSC’s Sarah Miller et al was among the first to show how the risks of childbirth vary by both race and parental income, and how Black families, regardless of their socioeconomic status, are disproportionately affected. The New York Times featured the study in February: “Childbirth is Deadlier for Black Families Even When They’re Rich, Expansive Study Finds.” 

Flint Vehicle City: No Justice No Peace

2. PSC Trainee Erykah Benson conducted survey research in Michigan this year probing public support for reparations. The University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study and the Center for Racial Justice found that the majority of Detroiters and the majority of Flint residents support reparations.

Difference in Differences Workshop presented by Pedro H. C. Sant'Anna on Jan. 21, 2023

3. PDHP held two workshops on Differences in Differences in 2023, with Pedro H. C. Sant’Anna and Jonathan Roth, breaking previous attendance records for such programs. PDHP’s workshops are free and open to the public, and a playlist of past offerings is on YouTube.

Arline T Geronimus

4. Arline Geronimus, who coined the term “weathering” to describe the corrosive effects of systemic oppression on marginalized people’s bodies, published a new book to great acclaim, Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society (Little, Brown Spark) that is the culmination of almost 40 years of research on populations who experience systemic cultural oppression, long-term material hardship, exploitation, stigma and political marginalization.

Arland Thornton

5. In March, PSC hosted an ISR retirement celebration honoring the legendary Arland Thornton known for research work in sociology and demography, his legacy of mentorship, and for pioneering the study of developmental idealism. Thornton’s career will be celebrated at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA), where he served as president, on April 17, 2024.

PSC alum Christina Cross bestows the Dorothy A. Thomas Award on PSC trainee Erin Ice at PAA 2023.

6. PSC Trainees won important honors in 2023. Among them: Jane Furey was named an NAEd/ Spencer Dissertation Fellow, Erin Ice won the PAA’s Dorothy S. Thomas Award, and affiliate Shoshana Shapiro was named a National Poverty Fellow.

CJARS training workshop

7. CJARS hosted a training workshop in conjunction with the Transatlantic Workshop on the Economics of Crime to educate participants about new research opportunities to study the U.S. criminal justice system. 

8. Spearheaded by Poverty Solutions, PSC scholars led important, policy-relevant work on poverty in 2023. In July, Katherine Michelmore testified on the effectiveness of the 2021 Child Tax Credit before the Senate Finance’s Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight. Kristen Seefeldt and colleagues launched the Guaranteed Income to Grow Ann Arbor, a two-year pilot to provide monthly payments of $528 to 100 entrepreneurs with low and very low incomes in Ann Arbor.

David Lam

9. ISR and PSC honored former director David Lam with a research symposium in May. Numerous former colleagues, students, and others affected by Lam’s work throughout his time at ISR and elsewhere spoke, capping a career in the social sciences spanning more than 40 years.

Sasha Killewald et al gather at a PSC Coffee Chat.

10. PSC had a bright year of community events. We added flash presentations with live scribing to our monthly Coffee Chats, hosted an incredible lineup of brown bag presentations, and rekindled our annual PSC Trainee picnic in the fall.

11. Demography hit headlines in 2023 when, according to UN estimates, India surpassed China in population. PSC helped connect PSC faculty Yun Zhou and PSC alumna Holly Singh to write about how individuals make decisions about fertility and parenthood in the “shadow” of population planning in  India and China. Their article was published in the Made in China Journal.

Felix Agoi, the senior field coordinator of the Longitudinal Study of Health and Ageing in Kenya, conducts community sensitization in Kilifi before the launch of the study’s pilot phase. Image courtesy: LOSHAK

12. Africa’s older population will triple in the next few decades. Modeled on the Health and Retirement Study at ISR, the LOSHAK longitudinal study in Kenya will provide data deeply needed as Sub-Saharan Africa navigates this population change. PSC Postdoc Shane Burns is part of the team, working on global disability.