Prenatal Demography: The Production of Birth Cohorts and the Study of Social Processes

Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:00 pm

Pregnancy loss is a primary limit on human reproduction and a key driver of population dynamics. It shapes the composition of families and communities. It is also very difficult to observe. Our work extends a long history of demographic research on cohort selection to include the prenatal period. We combine administrative data with new forms of online activity data from longitudinal observation of several hundred thousand users of a mobile device application that tracks menstruation and fertility. We demonstrate that U.S. pregnancy survival is socially patterned along multiple dimensions. We describe implications for U.S. birth cohorts. We argue that understanding this process is of broad interest; it is essential to answering a number of central questions in the social sciences. Here we focus on two examples: (1) how early-life experiences shape later-life welfare and (2) how children's traits affect their parents' outcomes.

nullJenna Nobles is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She studies how people make decisions about migration and fertility and the implications of these decisions for population change. Current projects include the links between residential change and crime, anticipatory migration behavior, demographic responses to the diffusion of health risks, and the reconstruction of hidden population traits. Nobles' research has been funded by the NIH, NSF, William T. Grant Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She is the Associate Director of the Center for Demography and Ecology and the Assistant Director of UW-Madison's Health Disparities Research post-doctoral program.