RESEARCH

Newest Publication

Melamed, Kalkhoff, Han and Li. (2017) The Neural Bases of Status-Based Influence Socius

Status characteristics theory provides a theoretical explanation for why social status promotes social influence in collectively oriented task groups. It argues that status differences produce differences in expectation states, which are anticipations of task-related contributions. Those with an expectation advantage are more influential, contribute more often to group discussions, and so on. The authors conducted the first experimental test of status characteristics theory while participants were in a magnetic resonance imaging machine. This permitted the measurement of neural activity in brain regions found to be associated with processing social status. The results indicate that neural activity does not explain the effect of status on behavior.

Skill Formation

Han (2016) Staying in STEM or changing course: Do natives and immigrants pursue the path of least resistance? Social Science Research

This paper examines why Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields are becoming “immigrant” fields of study as native students shift from STEM fields to law, medicine and business. Using data from the 2010 National Survey of College Graduates, the analyses find that foreign college-educated immigrants with STEM degrees tend to remain in STEM fields, while natives are more likely to shift from STEM fields to law, medicine and business in graduate school. Among those who moved into law, medicine and business, the gains in earnings are larger for natives than for foreign educated immigrants. These results have important implications for the social mobility of highly educated natives and immigrants.

Han and Buchmann (2016) Aligning Science Achievement and STEM Expectations for College Success: A Comparative Study of Curricular Standardization RSF Journal of the Social Sciences

Lack of preparation in science leads to high rates of attrition among science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, even among students who are highly oriented toward STEM. Using data for twenty-seven countries from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, we compare the United States with other industrialized countries in terms of fifteen-year-olds’ science achievement and their expectations to focus on STEM in the future. The United States trails most countries in the mean science achievement of the general student population and among students expecting to pursue STEM majors or careers. Lack of curricular standardization in the United States is related to this lower science achievement. Countries with higher curricular standardization exhibit higher average science achievement scores; science achievement and students’ future orientation toward science are also better aligned in these countries. We discuss the implications of these findings for American colleges and universities as they seek to reduce student attrition in STEM fields.

Marriage and Family

Han, Tumin and Qian (2016) Gendered transitions to adulthood by college field of study in the United States Demographic Research

Field of study may influence the timing of transitions to the labor market, marriage, and parenthood among college graduates. Research to date has yet to study how field of study is associated with the interweaving of these transitions in the USA. The current study examines gendered influences of college field of study on transitions to a series of adult roles, including full-time work, marriage, and parenthood. We use Cox proportional hazards models and multinomial logistic regression to examine gendered associations between field of study and the three transitions among college graduates of the NLSY97 (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth) cohort. Men majoring in STEM achieve early transitions to full-time work, marriage, and parenthood; women majoring in STEM show no significant advantage in finding full-time work and delayed marriage and childbearing; women in business have earlier transitions to full-time work and marriage than women in other fields, demonstrating an advantage similar to that of men in STEM. The contrast between men and women in STEM shows that transition to adulthood remains gendered; the contrast between women in STEM and women in business illustrates that a prestigious career may not necessarily delay family formation.

Tumin, Han and Qian (2015)  Estimates and Meanings of Marital Separation Journal of Marriage and Family

Marital separation is an informal transition that may precede or substitute for divorce. Various surveys collect data on marital separation, but the data have produced mixed estimates. The authors used data from the 1995 and 2006 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (N = 2,216) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 cohort (NLSY79; N = 1,990) to examine separations among women born between 1961 and 1965. In the National Survey of Family Growth, separations were typically short and followed by divorce. In the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 cohort, separations were longer and less likely to end in divorce. The authors relate these discrepancies to differences in study design, question universe, and question wording between the 2 surveys and show that different measures of separation lead to different conclusions about educational and racial/ethnic inequalities in the trajectories of marital disruption.

Casterline and Han (2017)  Unrealized fertility: Fertility desires at the end of the reproductive career  Demographic Research

‘Unrealized fertility’ is a failure to achieve desired fertility. Unrealized fertility has been examined in low-fertility societies but, with the exception of research on infertility, has been neglected in research on non-Western societies. We conduct a multicountry investigation of one form of unrealized fertility, namely a reproductive career which ends with the woman desiring further children. We analyze 295,854 women aged 44‒48 in 252 surveys (DHS, RHS, PAP) conducted in the period 1986–2015 in 78 countries. Two indicators of unrealized fertility are constructed: (i) a comparison of ideal versus actual number of children; (ii) the desire for another child. We estimate multilevel regressions with covariates at individual and aggregate levels. Unrealized fertility is far more prevalent according to the first indicator than the second. It is more common among women with fewer living children and women whose first birth occurs after age 20, and it is distinctly higher in sub-Saharan Africa and lower in South Asia. The evidence on trend over the course of fertility transition is mixed: for the second indicator but not the first, the net effect is a reduction in the prevalence of unrealized fertility as fertility declines. Unrealized fertility occurs frequently in most societies and therefore deserves more rigorous research, especially on its consequences for emotional, social, economic, and demographic outcomes.