Susan Alberts, Jenny Tung and Colleagues Find that Chronic Stress in Female Baboons Leads to Early Deaths

As the premier conference for demographers and social and health scientists in the United States, the Population Association of America (PAA) not only offers an opportunity for faculty to present their research and learn about new findings, but it also provides Duke faculty, graduate students  and postdoctoral associates the opportunity to more fully engage with the broader population research community. In 2021 Duke researchers, post-doctoral students, and graduate students participating in the 2021 Virtual PAA Annual Meeting represent over forty scientific sessions and scientific panels on topics ranging from aging, health and longevity to innovative data collection methods and approaches. Check out the full preliminary schedule, and Duke’s PAA participation across the years.
In this study, investigators  sought to answer the question, “What social or early life experiences determine why some baboons biologically age faster than others?” This question is important to understanding why such experiences predict differences in fertility or survival, and provide insight into how different life experiences affect Darwinian fitness. The study team demonstrated  that DNA methylation-based “clocks” are strong predictors of age in wild primates. Contrary to expectation, neither early adversity nor social bond strength, which both strongly predict lifespan in the  study population, affect the rate at which these clocks tick. However, male baboons who compete successfully for high social status appear to age faster. By repeatedly sampling some of these males, the study also shows that the clock can speed up or slow down as males move up or down the social ladder. Thus, this measure of biological age seems to reflect the immediate experiences of the animals in the sample, and suggests that physical competition for high status is costly.
Kenneth Dodge, William McDougall Distinguished Professor of Public Policy Studies, V. Joseph Hotz, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Economics, William Copeland, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, and Kathleen Cagney, Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago,  were recently awarded the NIA funded, The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Rural Aging [R01AG072459].  This multimillion dollar award will collect data to augment the longitudinal Great Smoky Mountains Study (GSMS) to create a national data resource, the Great Smoky Mountains Study of Rural Aging (GSMS-RA), for the study of early determinants of the aging experience in a rural context, capturing the full arc of a life with intimate detail about living and aging in a rural context.
Demography, the Population Association of America’s flagship journal, under the auspices of Duke University Press,  is now openly available to all, with no paywall or access barriers, starting with its 2021 volume. 
Edited by Jennifer Lansford, Research Professors at the Sanford School of Public Policy,  Andrew Rothenberg, Research Scientist at the Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy and Marc Bornstein, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Parenting Across Cultures From Childhood to Adolescence advances understanding of how parenting from childhood to adolescence changes or remains the same in a variety of sociodemographic, psychological, and cultural contexts, providing a truly global understanding of parenting across cultures.
The American Rescue plan, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that President Joe Biden is expected to sign this week, would temporarily raise the child tax credit and could permanently modify how the U.S. responds to child poverty. Duke University professor Lisa A. Gennetian is an expert on policies affecting child poverty. 
Manoj Mohanan, Associate Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy,  and his research team have estimated the number of people infected with COVID-19 in Karnataka, India. He was recently quoted in The New Yorker’s February 2021 review, “ Why does the Pandemic Seem to be Hitting Some Courtiers Harder than others? Manoj also appeared in an NBC segment ,March 9, 2021, “COVID Infection Rate Plummets in India as Experts Struggle to Find an Explanation.”  
The “American Dream,” coined in 1931 by writer James Truslow Adams, inspires children from all walks of life. To some, this signifies upward mobility—the idea that through hard work, one can go on to earn more money than one’s parents. However, America has failed to live up to these aspirations for many children—over the past 50 years, children’s chances of earning more than their parents have declined from 90 percent to 50 percent. Upon closer look, a map of upward mobility trends across the U.S. shows that this dream also depends heavily on where one grew up—low-income children from the Midwest experience significantly greater upward mobility than those from the Southeast. Thus, the question is: How can we increase economic opportunity for children from neighborhoods with low upward mobility? The Duke Center for Child and Family Policy in collaboration with the Duke University Population Research Institute hosted Dr. Raj Chetty, William A. Ackman Professor of Economics at Harvard University, to share research findings from his work with colleagues at Opportunity Insights, using big data to address this issue. The February 24 event was part of the Sulzberger Distinguished Lecture Series, made possible through an endowment from the Arthur Sulzberger Family.