Social demography, life course transitions, and the development of youth and children.
Current research focuses on adolescent sexual and contraceptive behaviors, effects of parents’ lives on children, religious beliefs and behaviors of youth, and demographic transitions among the Amish. Principal investigator for the NLSY79 Young Adult Survey.
As a graduate student I was interested in studying the decisions that teenagers made when, like "Juno", they found themselves pregnant. I used data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) to differentiate those who got married from those who chose to have abortions and those who had their babies while still single. More than 20 years later I am still doing research on adolescent sexual behaviors and I now design the survey questions that are asked of all children born to NLSY79 women! This is a very exciting part of my job as it gives me a chance to interact with, and learn from other sociologists as well as psychologists, economists, public health professionals, geneticists etc. who have ideas about important aspects of teenage and young adult lives that we should be learning about today and into the future. In recent years I have also become very interested in the Amish and am putting together a very large dataset on the Amish in North America that will enable us to learn about their patterns of marriage, fertility, mortality, migration, occupation and baptism and how these important life course events may be changing across the generations and by the specific religious paths that various groups of Amish choose to follow.