Primary Research Areas

CCPR’s research focuses on four signature themes that are central to the study of population dynamics: 1) Demography of Family, Household, and Individual Well-Being; 2) Migration and Immigration; 3) Inequality and Health Disparities; 4) Fertility and Reproductive Health. CCPR Fellows examine these topics at multiple levels, including the roles of individual behavior, families and social networks, macrosocial factors (e.g., labor market conditions, social stratification, public policy, and inequality and racism), and social, environmental effects on biological processes. The signature themes are described below, along with key innovations by CCPR Fellows. In the Cores, we illustrate the impact of CCPR’s P2C infrastructure support on Fellows’ research, including the collaborations we foster across disciplines and the activities and services that facilitated population research.

Societal changes have critically altered family forms and family life. The effects of demographic and social changes on individuals often occur through family and household dynamics. Families also play a key role in the intergenerational transmission of attitudes, values, and resources that, in turn, affect marriage, fertility, health, mortality, and migration. Understanding the dynamics of and obstacles faced by poor and disrupted families is especially important. CCPR researchers are pioneers in the study of diverse family forms by social class, immigrant status, race, and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other factors, as well as their consequences for children, adult offspring, and elderly parents. We advance population science by studying increasing diversity of family forms, declining overlap between family and household composition, the roots and consequences of family disruption, families in poverty, and multigenerational family structure. Throughout, we use innovative theoretical and analytic approaches and novel data collection strategies. CCPR research in this area includes inequalities in marriage and family dynamics, families and households in low-income settings, and intergenerational family decision-making and exchange.

Migration has been part of almost all human history, but its nature, scale, and complexity in today’s globalized world make it increasingly consequential. Migration and immigration are intertwined with socioeconomic, cultural, political, legal, and other demographic dynamics shaping the well-being of migrants and the sending and receiving societies. CCPR’s highly influential migration research examines a wide range of issues, including the determinants of migration and economic integration; the consequences of migration policy and documentation status in the U.S.; and migrants’ health and well-being.

Poor health and elevated mortality rates remain a heavy burden for many societies and individuals, particularly socially disadvantaged groups, as the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated. Significant disparities in health and survival among social groups and countries are major impediments to economic growth, social equality, and human development. CCPR researchers are leaders in research on the effects of racism and discrimination, socioeconomic status, and structural factors on health and mortality in the U.S. and globally. We focus on specific structural and demographic mechanisms that lead to higher morbidity and mortality and policy initiatives to improve population health outcomes using innovative data from surveys, administrative records, and big data sources. Specific foci for our research include racism, discrimination, and health in the U.S.; health in understudied populations; social and health policies; and direct and indirect health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes in childbearing are central to understanding social, economic, and health changes in the 21st century. Nearly one-half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended and occur disproportionately among lower-income women and women of color. Over 40% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion, and births resulting from unintended pregnancies are more likely to have low birth weight and other health complications. Unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, are associated with reduced well-being for adults, children, and families worldwide. CCPR affiliates take an interdisciplinary, life-course approach to study long-term trends and differentials in reproductive health in the U.S. and globally. They focus on structural, social, and economic determinants by integrating best practices in qualitative, statistical, and quasi-experimental methods and randomized control trials (RCTs). They work in three primary and interrelated areas: fertility and contraceptive use, reproductive health outcomes for mothers and children, and the social and policy contexts of HIV/AIDS.