Courtney Boen


  • Courtney Boen was quoted in a Penn Today article about the United States having the worst maternal mortality rate of any developed country and that rate steadily rising, increasing by 26% between 2000 and 2014. Experts across the University are addressing the crisis head-on, creating programs and conducting research to understand and address the role that social determinants, socioeconomics, and racism play.

  • Richard A. Axilrod, WG’85, and Nancy M. Axilrod, parents, have made a $2 million gift to establish the Axilrod Term Fund in Health and Inequality. The fund has enabled Penn Arts and Sciences to recruit three new faculty members, Juan Pablo Atal, Courtney Boen, and Morgan Hoke, who will help establish Penn as a worldwide center for the analysis of inequality and health, with a specific focus on the distribution of health outcomes and how this distribution is shaped by social policies. Read more about the fund in the Penn SAS announcement.

  • Congratulations to PSC research associate Courtney Boen for being awarded the best dissertation award from the ASA Section on Mental Health for her dissertation “Inequality ‘Under the Skin’: Stress & the Biodemography of Racial Health Disparities Across the Life Course.”

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ph.D., Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2017

My research focuses primarily on the social determinants of population health inequality, with particular attention to the social factors producing racial and socioeconomic health inequities. Utilizing biomarkers of physiological functioning and cellular aging and a variety of analytic techniques, my work aims to improve scientific understanding how macro-level social inequality “gets under the skin” to produce health disparities from birth through late life. Currently, I am engaged in several projects that examine how exposure to racism-related stress in various domains of social life (e.g., in neighborhoods, in contacts with the criminal justice system, and in interpersonal interactions) contributes to racial disparities in pre-disease biological markers of health and aging. My other ongoing and previous studies further investigate the social factors producing racial and socioeconomic health disparities. I have examined how disparities in socioeconomic conditions—including differential access to wealth and exposure to early-life socioeconomic disadvantage—contribute to population health inequality. I have also collaborated on projects that assess how access to social relationships and exposure to relationship strain contribute to disparities in health and disease risk. My research has been published in Social Science and Medicine, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Biodemography and Social Biology, and the Journal of Aging and Health.


  • Penn Anthropology Colloquium: Courtney Boen on Population Health Inequality in the Carceral State