Dr. Jason Thomas is a research scientist at the Institute for Population Research at The Ohio State University
Title: Three Methods for Three Classic Demographic Problems
Abstract: Duration dependence, dynamic processes, and mortality selection are common challenges faced by demographers. In this talk, I discuss three methodological approaches for dealing with each of these three issues in various demographic contexts: (1) HIV is intrinsically linked to fecundity and fertility. Empirical evidence at the individual level suggests that fecundity declines with the duration of HIV infection, and thus it is logical to assume that HIV has a suppressing effect on the TFR. However, data on the length of HIV duration is rarely available, particularly for nationally representative samples. To account for the duration dependence I propose a model for linking HIV and fertility that can be estimated using widely available DHS Data. (2) Early child development and parental inputs lay a foundation for adult health disparities. While early cognitive success predicts subsequent performance, parents can respond to early observed ability which may also influence developmental trajectories. I present results from the National Child Development Study and a parsimonious structural equation model that aims to capture these early dynamics and link their contribution to health inequalities in adulthood. (3) Patterns of cognitive decline at older ages depends on educational attainment. Yet the observed trajectories are also shaped by mortality selection. Using data from the HRS, I present a simple analysis that sheds light on the way mortality selection contributes to the observed patterns of cognitive decline.