Family Demography

This Primary Research Area encompasses diverse programs of research. Included is research on union formation and dissolution, sexual identity and type of union (e.g. same sex), and transition to adulthood. Effects of union transitions have been investigated in multiple research projects, including research on the consequences of single motherhood (for the woman, for the children) and the health benefits of union formation/dissolution more generally. The health of sexual minorities and persons in same-sex partnerships is the subject of ongoing research projects. Transition to adulthood is a core topic for several IPR affiliates. This includes research on educational attainment (with a focus on gender differences, both causes and consequences), and research on partnerships and childbearing in early adulthood. The setting for most of this research is the U.S. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth has served as a key data resource for many of these research projects, but there has also been primary and highly innovative data collection on young adults in Columbus. The main source of external funding for this research is NIH.


Featured Projects

Project TitleSame-sex Unions and Health

PI: Rin Reczek, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Relationships are fundamental to our health. But most research focuses on the health of adults and children in different-sex households. This project is innovative in that it is among the first to use population-based nationally representative survey data (National Health Interview Survey) to compare the health of adults and children in same-sex and different-sex households.

In a series of papers, the Same-Sex Unions and Health project shows that children in same- and different-sex married households have similar physical, emotional, and behavioral health. Children in married households, regardless of sex composition, fare better than children in cohabiting households. Similarly, adults who are married have better health than cohabiting adults; this is true for people in both same-sex and different-sex households. Together, these studies show that kids and adults in same-sex households are not health-disadvantaged, but rather it is the cohabiting who face the most serious health hindrances.

Recent Publications  

Reczek, C., Spiker, Russell, Liu, H., Crosnoe, R. (2016) “Same-sex Households and Child Health: A National Population-Based Study.” Demography, 53(5), 1605-1630.

                                                              **Winner of the IPUMS Research Award, 2016

                              **Honorable mention, Freidson Award from the ASA Medical Sociology Section, 2017

Reczek, C., Spiker, R.*, Liu, H., Crosnoe, R. (2017) “The Promise and Perils of Population Research on Same-sex Families.” Demography 54(6), 2385-2397. PMCID: PMC5705387

Reczek, C. (2020) “Gender and Sexual Minority Families: A 2010-2020 Decade in ReviewJournal of Marriage and Family, 82(1): 300-325. PMCID: PMC7710266

Reczek, C., Liu, H., and Spiker, R.* (2017) “Self-Rated Health at the Intersection of Sexual Identity and Union Status.” Social Science Research, 63:242–252. PMCID: PMC5319733

Reczek, C., Liu, H., and Brown, D.* (2014). Cigarette Smoking in Same-sex and Different-sex Unions:  The Role of Socioeconomic and Psychological Factors. Population Research and Policy Review, 33(4), 527-551. PMCID: PMC4204629

External Funding

2013-2016     “Relationships and Health: Comparing Union Types.” Role: Co-Investigator. National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging, R21 mechanism (PI: Debra Umberson 1R21AG044585-01A1) [awarded $239,955 direct costs]

2014-2016     “Same-sex Family Structures and Child Health: The Role of Family Resources.” Role: Lead Principal Investigator. NICHD, NIH (1R03HD078754-01A1; CoPI: Hui Liu) [awarded $100,000 direct costs]

2018-2022     “Mechanisms Underlying Sexual Minority Health Disparities in the United States.” Role: Co-Investigator. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), NIH, R01 (1R01HD094081-01A1; PI: Kamp Dush)

IPR Seed Grant 

2015-2017     “Parent and Child Health across the Transition to Adulthood.” Institute for Population Research, The Ohio State University. Seed Grant, Principal Investigator

2019-2020     “Motherhood Biographies and Midlife Women’s Health.” Institute for Population Research, The Ohio State University. Principal Investigator


Project TitleDemographic and family change in shale communities

PI: Michael R. Betz, PhD Associate Professor, Dept. of Human Sciences

Other Investigators: Tasha Snyder PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Human Science

The American energy landscape has been radically transformed by the application of hydraulic fracturing in combination with horizontal. Residents of the mostly non-metro areas where drilling is occurring are experiencing dramatic change in their communities. Rural communities are experiencing demographic changes resulting from an influx of oil and gas workers, most of which are 18-35 year-old males from outside of the community. A second driver of change is an infusion of wealth, mainly from lease and royalty payments made from energy companies to land owners. Many households have received lease payments in excess of $1 million, significant wealth to families that were mostly lower or middle-income prior to shale energy development. Our project aims to create detailed models of demographic changes occurring in shale development communities. We will compare demographic outcomes across different contexts to test whether community characteristics, such as initial population density and proximity to a metropolitan area, impact the effects of shale development on demographic outcomes such as marriage, fertility, human capital development, age structure, and racial composition.  

Recent Publications 

Shepard, M., Betz, M., & Snyder, A. (2019). The shale boom and family structure: Oil and gas employment growth relationship to marriage, divorce, and cohabitation. Rural Sociology.

External Funding

Betz, M. R. & Snyder, A. ($499,435). Shale energy development: A boom or bust for rural families and their communities?. United States Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2018-March 31, 2021.

IPR Seed Grant
Demographic and family change in shale communities (2015)