U-M PhD Candidate Erin Ice Receives the PAA Dorothy S. Thomas Award

April 14, 2023
Christina Cross and Erin Ice

Photo courtesy of the Population Association of America. PAA Awards Committee Chair Christina Cross of Harvard– who won the Dorothy Thomas award when she was a PSC trainee in 2020– bestows the Dorothy Thomas Award on PSC trainee Erin Ice at the PAA 2023 Awards Ceremony in New Orleans.

ANN ARBOR—Erin Ice, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and a trainee at the Population Studies Center (PSC) at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, received the Dorothy S. Thomas Award established by the Population Association of America (PAA) on Friday, April 14, during the PAA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. 

“This is the most significant award for graduate work in demography, and I’m so proud of Erin’s novel and socially meaningful work studying the burdens of caregiving,” said Sarah Burgard, the Director of PSC who is both Ice’s advisor and a 2003 recipient of the Dorothy Thomas Award, which recognizes the best graduate student paper on the interrelationships among social, economic and demographic variables. Ice won the award for her paper, Bringing Family Demography Back In: A Life Course Approach to the Gender Gap in Caregiving in the United States, published in Social Forces.

IPUMS last week selected Erin Ice to receive a 2022 IPUMS Research Award for the same paper.

A Population Approach to Caregiving Demands

“Because of this paper, we now know more about the full population distribution of unequal exposure to caregiving,” said Burgard. “The paper clearly illustrates how the differential burden of caregiving in early life can create ethno-racial disparities among women– not just between women and men.”

Rather than focusing on negotiations within the household or isolated causes for the gender gap in U.S. caregiving, Ice takes a population-level approach, focusing on coresidence with children and elders with care needs over the lifespan– with careful consideration of determinants of unequal experiences such as fertility timing, diverse household arrangements including extended family embeddedness, and health inequalities. 

“Caregiving is something that many of us are doing all the time, not just when raising young children,” said Ice. “In this paper, I have tried to document just how widespread these burdens are, and how several social forces expose some women to nearly lifelong demands.”

Ice is following this thread in her dissertation work with advisors Burgard and PSC Faculty Associate Alexandra Murphy, illuminating the ways that caregiving responsibilities go unnoticed–by family members, by health care providers, and even by caregivers themselves. Ice is studying how older adults and families navigate long-term care responsibilities and social services, following patients who are hospitalized with a stroke over the course of their recovery. Ice says she became aware of holes in the social safety net after observing older friends and family members with illnesses and disabilities forced to rely on personal networks for support.

PSC Legacy

“Whenever one of our students wins a prestigious award like this, it’s a win for the entire training program,” said PSC Training Program Director Jeffrey Morenoff. “Erin is an integral part of our exceptional community of graduate and postdoctoral trainees, who learn as much from each other as they do from our faculty.”

“This paper is a testament to how I’ve been stimulated during my training at the University of Michigan,” said Ice. “From workshops, to writing groups, to grant funding, to conference support, and above all, the generous support from many faculty and fellow graduate students, I have been greatly nourished by the Institute for Social Research and the Sociology Department.”

Sixteen affiliates of the Population Studies Center have been awarded the Dorothy Thomas Award since its inception in 1980. Current PSC faculty who earned the honor also include: Arline Geronimus, Narayan Sastry, and former PSC and ISR Director David Lam, who retires this year. 

Erin Ice holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas. An Institute for Social Research Next Generation Scholar, the Marshall Weinberg PSC Training Program Fund has supported Ice’s dissertation work that includes the qualitative study on the unequal division of eldercare among U.S. families and analyses of care configurations based on National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) data. Ice is also a fellow of the  Interdisciplinary Research on Health and Aging Program in the Epidemiology Department in the U-M School of Public health

Contact: Tevah Platt, [email protected]