Aging in America

This course will introduce undergraduate students to topics typically covered in social gerontology, which is the study of the social aspects of aging. For example, topics will include population trends in the U.S., family relationships, health, economics in later life, retirement, widowhood, long-term care of the frail elderly, poverty, and inequality among older adults. The course is organized into five sections: 1) the field of social gerontology, 2) perspectives on aging across disciplines, 3) core topics on the social aspects of aging, 4) health-related issues in later life, and 5) aging and society.

In the first section, we will focus on core methodological and theoretical issues in social gerontology, including critical trends in population aging, and on how social gerontology is related to the broader field of aging studies. In the second section, we will understand social gerontology as an interdisciplinary field that applies historical, biological, and psychological perspectives to the study of human development and aging. We then focus on the social context of aging, including family relationships, living arrangements, and life transitions. In the fourth section, we will learn about how society meets the healthcare needs of aging populations and shapes the experience of death and dying. Finally, we will understand the economic perspectives of aging and the social and political processes that produce gender and racial inequality in old age.

Life Course and Health

This course provides graduate students an overview of sociological theories and interdisciplinary methods for life-course approaches to health. It will cover health outcome measurements, data analysis, study design, and sources of bias as well as substantive topics on aging and health research. This course is intended for graduate students with a basic understanding of life-course health research who wish to gain a more in-depth review of the field. Life-course research is interdisciplinary by nature and design. As such, readings from this emerging area of inquiry are drawn from medical sociology, sociology of aging and the life course, demography, epidemiology, psychology, and behavioral genetics.

Quantitative Methods I

This is a graduate course in techniques of multivariate statistical analysis required of students in the graduate program in sociology. The focus is on applied linear models, with an emphasis on multiple regression and its extensions. The course provides an introduction to the logic of statistical control and multivariate statistical models, as they are commonly applied in the social sciences.

Multivariate Statistical Analysis

This course introduces undergraduate students to the logic and application of different multivariate statistical analyses, thus expanding on the knowledge of hypothesis testing that they developed in their introduction to statistics class. It stresses how to be intelligent and informed consumers and producers of quantitative social science research. Researchers have employed multivariate statistical techniques to answer socially-relevant questions such as these:

  • How do opinions on abortion differ by one’s political party?
  • Does getting a college degree have the same labor market benefits across racial/ethnic groups?
  • How does discrimination affect health?
  • Does early-life socioeconomic status (SES) matter for midlife health more or less than adult SES?

By the end of the quarter, students should be skilled enough in the art of statistics to address these types of questions. In addition, this course will stress hand calculations and the interpretation and appropriate use of statistics. Students will also use software (STATA) to run statistical operations and learn to interpret the output.