Website Featured Project Summer 2020 - The Role of Selection in Health Production and Aging Process


Title: The Role of Selection in Health Production and Aging Process

Primary Investigator

Hui Zheng, Associate Professor of Sociology

Project Description

Selection is prevalent and consequential in the population patterns of health and mortality. This project investigates the role of selection in health production and aging process over the life course and across birth cohorts. It encompasses four subprojects: (1) how selection may contribute to the evolving relationship between health and health determinants (e.g., marriage, education) over the life course, and the contingency in this relationship across the selection spectrum; (2) how different ages of onset of obesity, weight loss, and mortality selection effects may change the population compositions of body mass index groups across the life course and impact the aggregate observed effect of obesity on mortality over ages; (3) how mortality selection and cohort evolution mechanisms shape the rate of demographic aging, the rate of biological aging, and age-dependent mortality patterns across birth cohorts in both early and later transition countries; and (4) how changes in the level and variance of unobserved frailty over time may complicate the interpretation of cohort trends in health disparities and life expectancy and how to evaluate the bias due to this selection dynamics.

Recent Publications 

Zheng, Hui. Forthcoming. “Mortality Selection and Cohort Trends in Health Disparities.” Demographic Research.

Zheng, Hui and Siwei Cheng. 2018. “A Simulation Study of the Role of Cohort Forces in Mortality Patterns.” Biodemography and Social Biology 64 (3-4): 216-236.

Tumin, Dmitry, and Hui Zheng. 2018. “Do the Health Benefits of Marriage Depend on the Likelihood of Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and Family 80: 622-636.

Zheng, Hui. 2017. “Why Does College Education Matter? Unveiling the Contributions of Selection Factors.” Social Science Research 68: 59-73.

Zheng, Hui, and Jonathan Dirlam. 2016. “The BMI-Mortality Link across the Life Course: Two Selection Biases and Their Effects.” Plos One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148178.

​Zheng, Hui. 2014. “Aging in the Context of Cohort Evolution and Mortality Selection.” Demography 51(4):1295-1317.

External Funding

“Population Heterogeneity in the Effects of Obesity on Mortality over the Life Course.” NIH/NIA R03 grant. 2017-2020: $150,000. 

“A Semi-parametric Approach to Mitigate Lagged Selection Bias in Trend Studies.” CDC NCHS R03 grant (Research and Methods in Health Statistics RFA-SH-16-001). 2016-2018: $147,558.


IPR Seed Grant

 “The Role of Selection in the College Education-Health Link.” 2016-2018.

 “Obesity and Mortality: Early Origins, Selection, and Trajectories.” 2013-2014.