In this episode, we talk with Christopher Wildeman , Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His research and teaching interests revolve around the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on families, health, and children. He is also interested in child welfare, especially as relates to child maltreatment and the foster care system.

We talk about his article on child maltreatment, published in Pediatrics, and discuss how his research team used existing datasets in new ways to reveal better estimates of child maltreatment rates.

“Most of the statistics that we have are based on either annual rates or daily rates of experiencing some specific event. And so the technique that I use, which is called synthetic cohort life tables, is basically just a way to say: based on one year’s data, what proportion of folks could expect to experience an event at some point in their life?”
– Chris Wildeman –

In this episode, we talk with Deborah Carr about life course and longitudinal studies. We draw upon her work with the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study to discuss issues of measurement, sampling, and study design.

“For any researcher of life course and aging, longitudinal and prospective data are essential. If we study whole lives, but do it retrospectively – for instance, if we ask someone at age 65 to recall upon their lives – there’s a very powerful phenomenon called retrospective recall bias. People reconstruct their past in such a way that it meshes with their current conditions….your current mood taints all your prior recollections.

So, to really understand aging, you can’t just look at people at one point in time to really know what their lives are like. We need to talk to people at multiple points over time so we can see how they change as they age and to see how their experiences differ based on historical changes in the world. The important point is that you follow individuals over time so that you can really track continuity and change in their lives.”
– Deborah Carr –