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Population center and its demographic research boosted by $1.15 million grant

Gender inequality in households, the fallout of poverty on child health and the effects of market transitions on the stratification system in China are just a few topics that researchers affiliated with the Cornell Population Program (CPP) undertake. Now, the program's ability to conduct demographic research at the national and international level has been boosted with a $1.15 million grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NIH awards one such grant annually to a new program that shows the most promise of becoming a leading population research center. The funding, which comes from the NIH's Demographic and Behavioral Science Branch, will be spread over five years beginning this fall.

"This establishes Cornell as a rising program in demographic research," said H. Elizabeth Peters, director of the CPP and a professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology. "We view this as a validation of our excellent faculty, graduate students and research programs and as a concrete step toward elevating Cornell's profile and effectiveness within the demographic community."

The center has 71 faculty members and research associates from 16 departments across campus and bolsters Cornell's social sciences infrastructure. It also helps to bridge the worlds of theoretical and applied scholarship, said David Harris, Cornell deputy provost and vice provost for social sciences.

"It's very exciting to have the opportunity to build on our demographic program," said Harris, who is on the CPP's executive board. "This center lends a new dimension to dozens of programs across campus and strengthens our work across the social sciences."

The CPP was established in 2007 to coordinate and promote population research, encourage cross-disciplinary innovation, facilitate research funding, improve interdisciplinary training and convert academic studies into policy recommendations and guidance for practitioners. The center is housed at Cornell's Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center (BLCC).

"We're bringing social science researchers from across the university to an intellectual home to spark collaborations that wouldn't otherwise happen," said Dan Lichter, director of the BLCC. "We have the faculty talent to do cutting-edge demographic research across social science disciplines."

The program is focused on three broad areas: families and children, health behaviors and disparities, and poverty and inequality.

The CPP is also funded by a seed grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for the Social Sciences, which includes support from the Colleges of Human Ecology, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences and the ILR School. In addition, the BLCC contributes matching grants, cost sharing and other financial and administrative support for the CPP's activities.

Sheri Hall is assistant communications director for the College of Human Ecology.

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Nicola Pytell