News

Martin Ruef, Professor of Sociology and DUPRI scholar, has published two new papers that examine racial and residential segregation in the Jim Crow South and 20th century Europe.

Two DUPRI scholars, Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt are among four Duke faculty members elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Founded in 1780, the Academy honors excellence and convenes leaders to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and advance the public good. This year’s election of 261 new members continues a tradition of recognizing accomplishments and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy, and research.

The recent Population Association of America (PAA) Annual Meeting, held in Atlanta from April 6-9, featured presentations and posters from numerous DUPRI scholars and students. At this year's PAA, DUPRI scholars and students were well-represented, with a total of 25 faculty, postdocs, and students presenting papers and posters and serving as chairs and discussants.

Duke demographers remember the life and work of James Vaupel, one of DUPRI's founders.

DUPRI’s Allison Stolte and Giovanna Merli, in collaboration with Ben Goldstein and other Duke School of Medicine colleagues, have published new research in Social Science & Medicine demonstrating the efficacy of using electronic health records (EHRs) to assess children's population health.

Their new paper, "Deep-seated psychological histories of COVID-19 vaccine hesitance and resistance," finds that vaccine resistance comes from a childhood legacy of mistrust. Using data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, they show that vaccine-resistant and vaccine-hesitant participants had histories of adverse childhood experiences that foster mistrust, longstanding mental-health problems that foster misinterpretation of messaging, and early-emerging personality traits including tendencies toward extreme negative emotions, shutting down mentally under stress, nonconformism, and fatalism about health. As a result, encouraging the vaccine-resistant will take more than advertising.

Smoking during adolescence is one of a few health concerns a new study has linked with accelerated aging in adulthood. If you were obese, smoked or had a psychological disorder in adolescence, you might age faster than your peers as an adult, new research has found. Adolescents ages 11 to 15 who were obese, smoked cigarettes daily, or had a psychological disorder, such as anxiety, depression or ADHD, biologically aged nearly three months faster every year than their peers, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The research used data from 910 people who were part of the Dunedin Study, a long-term investigation that tracked the health and behavior of participants born between April 1972 and March 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, following them from age 3 until they were 45 years old. By age 45, the new study found that participants who had two or more of those three general health concerns -- smoking, obesity or psychological disorders -- as adolescents walked 11.2 centimeters per second slower, had an older brain age by two and a half years, and had an older facial age by nearly four years than those who didn't. The factors researchers used to measure aging included body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, blood tests, hormones for appetite regulation and fat storage, blood pressure, cholesterol, tooth decay, periodontal disease, cardiorespiratory fitness, and brain MRIs. The study also examined a fourth health concern, with very different results. Participants who had asthma during adolescence -- most of whom were treated -- weren't biologically older at age 45, compared with those without asthma. These findings remained constant even when the authors considered possible confounders such as socioeconomic disadvantages or adverse childhood experiences.

At 44, Pontzer’s life’s work as a biological anthropologist is counting calories. It’s not to lose weight—at 1.85 meters tall and about 75 kilograms (6 feet 1 inch and 165 pounds), with a passion for running and rock climbing, he is “a skinny to normal size dude,” in the words of an online reviewer of Pontzer’s 2021 book Burn: New Research Blows the Lid Off How We Really Burn Calories, Lose Weight, and Stay Healthy. Pontzer is happy to expound on weight loss on The Dr. Oz Show and NPR, but his real mission is to understand how, alone among great apes, humans manage to have it all, energetically speaking: We have big brains, lengthy childhoods, many children, and long lives. The energy budget needed to support those traits involves trade-offs he’s trying to unravel, between energy spent on exercise, reproduction, stress, illness, and vital functions. By borrowing a method developed by physiologists studying obesity, Pontzer and colleagues systematically measure the total energy used per day by animals and people in various walks of life. The answers coming from their data are often surprising: Exercise doesn’t help you burn more energy on average; active hunter-gatherers in Africa don’t expend more energy daily than sedentary office workers in Illinois; pregnant women don’t burn more calories per day than other adults, after adjusting for body mass.

Effects of School Closures on Children: The pandemic profoundly affected American children with disruptions to their schooling and daily care. A new study by Anna Gassman-Pines, Elizabeth Ananat, John Fitz-Henley II, and Jane Leer found that service sector workers who had a young child reported disruption on 24 percent of days in fall 2020. The disruptions were more common in remote learning and had a negative impact on children’s behavior and on parenting mood and behavior.

A team of researchers found that a poverty reduction intervention had a direct impact on children’s brain development. Co-author of the study, Lisa Gennetian, is co-PI of the Baby’s First Years, a randomized control trial of a direct cash intervention and the source of the data for this new study. Findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), show that after one year of predictable, monthly unconditional cash transfer given to low-income families, 1-year-olds exhibited brain activity patterns associated with the development of thinking and learning.