International population research. Studies aimed at improving the health and life chances in the world’s population through investments in nutrition and schooling, fighting HIV/AIDS, and understanding migration to the US are all buttressed by a PSC infrastructure that aids international population research. Seventeen of the program scientists come from outside the US and another seven have language skills that permit them to do fieldwork and/or give talks in languages other than English. The PSC’s presence in international population research is important in attracting the excellent graduate students who are crucial to the research environment at the PSC.
Internationalist infrastructure. Our desire to sustain and profit from accumulated international human and social capital has led to our international partnerships, a set of institutional relationships designed to foster collaborative research. The term “partnerships” reflects our desire to move away from hierarchical international relationships and toward those founded on exchange. We sponsor several hispanophone and francophone meals each semester and have colloquium talks in Spanish (e.g., Fernández-Villaverde, in Sept 2017, on Las Transiciones Demográficas.) Within Penn, we align with Administration initiatives in global health and global engagement, with PSC expertise in international population and health studies reflected in substantial involvement (Behrman, Elo, Hannum, Roberts, Todd) across all 4 of the inaugural SAS Dean’s Integrative Global Inquiries projects; plus with area studies centers (e.g., Sept 2017 conference on early childhood development in India, organized by Behrman and Guillot for the Ctr Advanced Study of India).
Malawi Research Group. The Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH), a collaborative project among Penn, the College of Medicine at Univ of Malawi, and Invest in Knowledge Malawi, is one of very few long-standing publicly-available longitudinal cohort studies in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). With data collection rounds for up to 4,000 individuals in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012+13, 2017, and forthcoming until 2021, the MLSFH documents more than two decades of demographic, socioeconomic and health conditions in one of the world’s poorest countries. The MLSFH study population represents a remarkable cohort—the survivors of the AIDS epidemic—that is reaching middle age, and whose children will be critical for shaping the future of SSA. Prior funding of the MLSFH included multiple grants from NICHD (R01 HD/MH41713, R03 HD058976, R21 HD050652, R21 HD071471, R01 HD044228, R01 HD053781), as well as funding through the PSC, Penn Center for AIDS Research the Penn Institute on Aging, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (R4d), and other agencies. Faculty who have contributed to the MLSFH came from a broad range of disciplines, including sociology, demography, economics, public health, epidemiology and anthropology, and research methods have highly varied: survey research, in-depth qualitative interviewing, diaries of field workers, conversation analysis, econometrics, demographic modeling, macroeconomic modeling, network analysis, randomized incentive schemes, and biomarker analyses. Members of the MLSFH team have established a Malawian NGO "Invest in Knowledge (IKI)" that is not only the collaborator for the MLSFH fieldwork since 2006 but has emerged as a leading Malawian research organization that conducts studies for projects funded by NIH, the World Bank, DFID, Rand Corp, Gates Fdtn, and others.