PDB Research Programs

The following information describes the branch's research programs and program areas.

Program Official: Rosalind King

The Population Dynamics Branch is interested in studies of various aspects of adoption and kinship within the following scope:

  • Adoption and kinship as components of population dynamics, such as family formation patterns and understandings of membership in a demographically defined unit
  • Adoption as a population-level phenomenon

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Adoption, biological fertility, and infertility treatments as complements to or substitutes for each other
  • Social, economic, and policy processes related to adoption and kinship
  • Social, cultural, legal, psychological, and biological factors and processes that influence understandings of kinship, including meanings assigned to genetics and adoption

See also:

Program Official: Rosalind King

The scope of branch-supported research in the biopsychosocial program includes the integration of social science, behavioral, and biomedical approaches to understanding health.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Integrative theories and methodologies to advance population sciences
  • Collection of biomarkers in population-representative surveys
  • Population-level studies of gene-environment interactions
  • Role of influences beyond the family on epigenetic changes

Program Official: Rebecca Clark

Data sharing refers to documenting, archiving, and disseminating data within the scope of branch-supported projects.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Ensuring human subjects' protections and privacy
  • Integrating data collected at several levels and/or through multiple modalities
  • Facilitating adherence to NIH policies, including genome-wide association studies and genomic data sharing

For more information, please visit the Data Sharing for Demographic Research (DSDR) page.

Program Official: Juanita Chinn

This research program includes population-representative studies of the interrelations between demographic processes and health and the health of populations, with a particular focus on children and families.
Specific areas of interest include:

  • Trends in population health
  • Disparities in health, development, and productivity
  • Effects of policies and other population-level interventions on health
  • Relationship between population composition (e.g., income inequality, racial/ethnic composition, age/sex composition) and health
  • Effects of racial and ethnic diversity on population health and health disparities
  • Mechanisms through which racial/ethnic differences in health outcomes operate (e.g., culture, racism, and social constraints
  • Effects of health including mortality and morbidity on income and well-being
  • Human capital, education, and labor force participation and health
  • Economic development and health
  • Methods to advance research on:
    • Measurement and analysis of health status at aggregate levels
    • Temporal patterns of health and disease
    • Spatial distributions of health and disease

Program Official: Rebecca Clark

Families, Health, and Productivity

Within the context of families, health, and productivity, the scope of branch-supported projects include natural experiments, policy experiments, and population-representative studies of the relations between family processes and structure and the health, development, and productivity of the family.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Division of labor in families and households
  • Work/family interactions
  • Parenting and parental involvement
  • Family investment in children
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Development of human capital
  • Population indicators, trends and differences in the health, well-being, and productivity of children

Family Demography, Nuptiality, and Intergenerational Processes

For the branch, the scope of this type of research includes population-representative studies of determinants and consequences of change to family demography, nuptuality, and intergenerational processes.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Marriage, cohabitation, and divorce
  • Household formation and dissolution
  • Family structure and household composition
  • Population trends and differentials related to families and households
  • Factors affecting parental assignment of race to their children
  • Family and social context influences on child well-being, health, and development from birth through young adulthood
  • Intergenerational transfers and the health, productivity, and well-being of individuals

The following topics fall outside of the branch's research scope:

  • Studies of relationship education, relationship/marriage therapy, or interventions related to relationship quality, marriage, or divorce
  • Couples communication, except as it is related to fertility, contraception, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections

Adoption

This program examines adoption as a population-level phenomenon health.
Specific areas of interest include:

  • Adoption, biological fertility, and infertility treatments as complements to or substitutes for each other
  • Social, economic, and policy processes related to adoption and kinship
  • Social, cultural, legal, psychological, and biological factors and processes that influence understandings of kinship, including meanings assigned to genetics and adoption

Data Collection

For this program, data collection refers to collection and dissemination of population-representative data on children, parents, and families for secondary analysis.

Program Official: Rosalind King

This program examines the social, institutional, economic, and cultural contexts and processes that influence the quantity, timing, and circumstances of childbearing and the trends and differentials by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics.

Fertility

Areas of interest related to fertility include:

  • Fertility in relation to other life course domains and trajectories, such as education, work, residential mobility, health, and the timing and characteristics of romantic unions
  • Policy, social, economic, cultural, psychological, and biological factors and processes that influence fertility intentions and behavior
  • Consequences of the quantity, timing, and circumstances of childbearing for the well-being of families, communities, and societies

Infertility

Areas of interest related to infertility include:

  • Diminished fecundity and variations in pregnancy attainment, characteristics, and resolution
  • Help-seeking and diagnosis patterns and processes
  • Treatment access and decision-making
  • Short- and long-term consequences of infertility or infertility-associated treatment for women, men, couples, and children
  • Social, economic, and policy factors that generate disparities in infertility and infertility treatment

Adoption and Kinship

Within this program, adoption and kinship research is relevant as components of population dynamics, such as family formation patterns and understandings of membership in a demographically defined unit.
Specific areas of interest include:

  • Adoption, biological fertility, and infertility treatments as complements to or substitutes for each other
  • Social, economic, and policy processes related to adoption and kinship
  • Social, cultural, legal, psychological, and biological factors and processes that influence understandings of kinship, including meanings assigned to genetics and adoption

Program Official: Rosalind King

The scope of projects within this program includes trajectories of health and mortality from pre-pregnancy through the reproductive years, including birth outcomes, childhood and adolescence, transition to adulthood, and middle age, as well as transgenerational influences on health.
Specific areas of interest include:

  • Interrelationships between fertility, fecundity, and health
  • Interrelationships between assisted reproductive technologies and health
  • Downstream effects of early intervention programs on later health outcomes
  • Dynamic influences of the social, economic, political, institutional, cultural, and physical environments over the life course
  • Work-family conflict and health

Health promotion interventions that take place within the workplace, but that are unconnected to family processes are outside the scope of the branch's program.

Program Official: Juanita Chinn

'Population composition refers to research on the economic, social, and demographic factors affecting the racial and ethnic composition of the United States, as well as on the effects of racial and ethnic diversity on population health and health disparities.
Specific areas of interest include:

  • Factors affecting parental assignment of race to their children
  • Racial/ethnic characterization among U.S. immigrants and how it changes with assimilation and across generations
  • Racial and ethnic differences in health, social, economic, and demographic processes and outcomes
  • Mechanisms through which racial/ethnic differences operate (e.g., culture, racism, and social constraints)

Program Official: Rebecca Clark

This program encourages research on population, behavioral, and health economics.
Potential applicants are advised to consult with a program official regarding the alignment of their research with NIH program priorities. See NOT-OD-16-025: Clarifying NIH Priorities for Health Economics Research for more information.

Population, Behavioral, and Health Economics

Areas of potential interest include:

  • Health and health-related outcomes associated with the allocation of family resources within and across generations
  • Effects of public policy programs on family behavior and child development
  • Impact of child care arrangements on labor supply
  • Determinants of family labor supply and economic resources and their health impacts
  • Evaluations of the impact of changes in state and federal programs including those related to welfare, housing, and child care policies on child health and development
  • Interrelationships between health and economic status, including issues related to wealth, poverty, productivity, human capital development, and economic development
  • Evaluations of population-level interventions to improve the health and well-being of children
  • Health services and health care financing for children and adolescents with multiple conditions
  • Provider-level and regional variation in health expenditures, services, and health-related outcomes for children and adolescents

Program Official: Rebecca Clark

The scope of these types of studies within the program includes representative studies of population mobility and its consequences and spatial dimensions of health and population change.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Effects of population mobility on population health
  • Causes and consequences of population mobility and immigration
  • Interactions between health and mobility
  • Mobility and infectious disease transmission
  • Health and place
  • Effects of environmental change on population health
  • Reciprocal influences of population and environmental change
  • Immigrant adaptation and assimilation and immigrant health
  • Racial/ethnic variation among U.S. immigrants and how it changes with assimilation and across generations
  • Effects of population mobility on:
    • Sending and receiving communities, domestically and internationally
    • Other components of demographic change, such as fertility
  • Effects of policy and economic conditions on mobility
  • Methodological research on improving data collection, analysis, and estimation related to population mobility
  • Applications of spatial econometrics and other methods to demographic processes

Individual or family-level interventions related to population mobility are not within the scope of the branch's research in this program.

Program Official: Rosalind King

The scope of research within this program includes:

  • Human reproductive health, including sexual behaviors, the use and non-use of all methods of pregnancy prevention, such as contraception, and the attainment of desired pregnancy and/or the avoidance of undesired pregnancy
  • Social and behavioral interventions designed to improve reproductive health, including reducing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV, and increasing STI testing and treatment
  • Social and behavioral research on reproductive health (including STIs and HIV) using population representative samples in all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation

Research areas of interest include the following:

  • Interrelationships between pregnancy prevention and disease prevention
  • Behaviors related to the risk of unwanted pregnancy/birth or the risk of STIs, including initiation and trajectories of sexual activity, contraceptive use, and sexual partnerships; partnership dynamics and characteristics; partner selection and the negotiation of protected sex; and contraceptive use dynamics and effectiveness
  • Interrelationships among structural, population-level, and individual factors and characteristics that affect sexual behaviors and reproductive health (including STI/HIV risk and transmission). Some examples of factors at these differing levels include:
    • Relationships with partners, family, friends, and others
    • Values and beliefs related to gender
    • Media
    • Prevention messages
    • Sexual partners, socioeconomic status, demographic characteristics, access to services
    • Social networks
    • Social, institutional, economic, and cultural contexts
    • Legal, educational, religious, fraternal, and health services institutions
    • Environmental influences, such as road systems, alcohol sales venues, housing availability, and general health and disease prevalence of the community
  • The design, implementation, and evaluation of theoretically grounded interventions for both individuals and providers designed to improve reproductive health (including reducing STI/HIV transmission, increasing STI/HIV testing, and improving medical adherence related to STIs and HIV)
  • Consequences of sexual behaviors, other behaviors related to reproductive health, STI/HIV prevention strategies, or STI/HIV infection on individual well-being, interpersonal relationships, reproductive outcomes, and the well-being of families, communities, and society
  • Methodologies and measures to improve studies of reproductive health, including developing reliable and unbiased measures, data collection methods that improve validity of self-reports, and methods for validation of self-report data
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