The study of population processes is critical to understanding the world around us.  Births, deaths, household formation, and migration remain crucial indicators of social change.  The study of population covers not only basic measurements of population change, but also analysis of the roots and ramifications of those changes.

Sociologists approach the study of population by focusing on the social processes and implications of demographic change.  If the public hears that the marriage is waning as an institution, sociologists of population will seek not only to define a marriage rate, but ask how adequate it is for measuring family formation and examine what social factors make it change. They apply a similar lens to fertility, mortality, migration and the processes that cause variation in their occurrence. To address such questions, graduate training in the population cluster focuses on grounding students in both sociological theory and statistical methodology.

Examples of current faculty research in population:

  • The role of marriage and children in creating gender wage inequality
  • New estimations of the unauthorized immigrant population
  • Historical mortality and morbidity in the U.S. population
  • Migration and social integration in contemporary China
  • Cross-national analyses of the household division of labor
  • Older people in U.S. immigrant families
  • Global city networks
  • Educational inequality among immigrant groups
  • Racial and ethnic differences in U.S. residence
  • The collateral consequences of incarceration for health and family life
  • The consequences of depression for social inequality
  • The causes and consequences of childhood health inequalities.
  • Family instability and early sexual activity.
  • Risk factors for low birthweight



Frank D. Bean
international migration, demography, racial and ethnic relations, economic sociology, family
Susan K. Brown*
international migration, educational inequality, social demography, urban sociology

Cynthia Feliciano
race/ethnicity/minority relations, migration and immigration, education

Rachel E. Goldberg 
social demography, family, health, migration, and life course

Jennifer Buher Kane 
family, fertility, population health, social inequality, and quantitative methods.

Andrew Penner 
gender, race, family, inequality, education

David A. Smith
world systems analysis, urbanization, development, comparative-historical sociology, dependent development in East Asia
Judith Treas
family, social demography, aging, social stratification     

Kristin Turney
social inequality, family demography, population health, incarceration and punishment

 Wang Feng 
contemporary demographic, economic, and social processes; social inequality in socialist states; contemporary Chinese society


George Farkas
John Hipp
Andrew Noymer
Annie Ro
Bryan Sykes


*cluster coordinator



The following courses are among those satisfying prerequisites for field exams in population:

  • Population (required); offered annually.
  • Demographic Methods (required); offered annually.
  • Age, Generations, and the Life Course
  • Global Demographic Change
  • Inequality and Health
  • Infectious Disease and Epidemiology
  • Families and Households
  • Global Urbanization
  • Community and Immigration
  • Mexican Migration and U.S. Policy


Graduate courses in population in 2017-2018 (subject to change):

Soc. 262A – Population (Brown).
Soc. 226A – Demographic Methods (Kane). This course is cross-listed with Public Health 209, Demographic Analysis, taught in the spring.
Soc. 269 – Sociological Perspectives on the Transition to Adulthood (Goldberg).

Soc. 239 – Community and Immigration (Brown).

Soc. 239 – Inequality and Health (Goldberg)
Soc. 259 – Global Demographic Change (Wang Feng)
Soc. 260A – Families and Households (Treas)



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