Social Q's

Social scientist Jere Behrman gives an inside look at his work outside the classroom.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

By Brea Stover and Rachel Witte

When not in the classroom, Jere Behrman, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Economics and Sociology, remains actively involved in the research and study of social sciences in part through his role as the Economics/Social Science member of the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development (NACHHD) Council. His expertise—Behrman has authored over 350 professional articles and 33 books, and researched with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program—has earned him the authority to serve on such a committee. As a member of this group, Behrman collaborates with his fellow Council members to advise, consult with and make recommendations to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development director on matters relating to the research and functions of the Institute.

The following Q&A with Professor Behrman offers an insider’s look into his world as an educator and advisor in the social sciences.

What is the importance of studying economics at an international level?

Does health have behavioral impacts?

What is the process for approving applications on the NICHD council?

Is the council able to approve international grant applications?

What challenges do you face as a council member during the application approval process?

Does your work on the council influence your personal research interests?

When you study issues of behavioral health—in this instance the disparity in schooling—how do you control for differences in socioeconomic status, motivation level and overall health?

Why is it that women with more schooling may tend to have children who receive less schooling?

What is the significance of such a study surrounding schooling and what can it tell us?

Are there any outliers in studying twins or cases of siblings who receive more or less schooling?

What are the challenges of social science work, particularly in relationship to this specific study?