CU Population Center

CU Population Center

The CU Population Center (CUPC), funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, represents an interdisciplinary community of scholars and professionals engaged in population research and training. Building on the foundation of a distinguished thirty-year-old Population Program within the Institute of Behavioral Science, CUPC affiliates explore demographic processes in the U.S. as well as in a wide variety of international settings. Areas of particular research interest are Environmental Demography, Migration and Population Distribution, and Health and Mortality.

Research Findings

Polygyny and HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa

Does polygyny increase the risk of HIV infection? Georges Reniers and Rania Tfaily, using survey data from 20 African countries, note contrasting types of influence. While HIV prevalence is lower in populations with more polygyny, junior wives in polygynous unions are more likely to be HIV positive than those in monogamous relationships. To explain the increased risk of HIV infection for junior wives, their study finds that a disproportionate number of divorced and widowed women who are more likely to be HIV positive are in polygynous unions. To explain lower HIV prevalence in polygynous populations, they show that polygyny is associated with lower coital frequency and a shorter period of sexual activity before marriage. These findings together support the idea that polygynous marriage as a system impedes the spread of HIV.

—Georges Reniers and Rania Tfaily. "Polygyny, Partnership Concurrency, and HIV Transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa." Demography 49 (2012) 1075-1101.

Changing Genetic Influences on Smoking

Are smokers today having a hard time quitting? In an article in Demography, Jason Boardman and colleagues at CUPC argue that the composition of the smoking population has changed in ways that increase the importance of genetic factors in smoking - and perhaps in the difficulty of quitting. Using a sample of 363 identical adult twins and 233 fraternal adult twins from a large population registry, they describe the similarity in the timing of smoking desistance. The results show that identical twin pairs are significantly more likely to quit smoking within a similar time frame compared with fraternal twin pairs. Importantly, the results also reveal the combined influence of genes and environment: Genetic factors for smoking desistance increased in importance following social changes in norms and restrictive legislation on smoking in the early and mid-1970s. With the growing importance of genetic factors for smoking, policies may need to give special attention to helping a population of smokers with strong predispositions to continue.

Jason D. Boardman, Casey L. Blalock, Fred C. Pampel, Peter K. Hatemi, Andrew C. Heath, and Lindon J. Eaves. "Population Composition, Public Policy, and the Genetics of Smoking." Demography 48 (2011) 1517-1533.

Female-headed households contending with AIDS-related hardship in rural South Africa

Female headed households are becoming increasingly common in rural South Africa in part due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We analyze qualitative interviews with 16 female heads and the members of their households in a rural community to examine the response to AIDS-related illness, death, or caring for orphaned children. We find that inter-household social connections are particularly important to female headed household survival in rural South Africa. Those that lack familial support are challenged more by AIDS-related disruptions and rely heavily on government sponsored social support such as child grants.

Enid Schatz, Sangeetha Madhavan, and Jill Williams
Health & Place 17 (2011) 598-605. ~  Article (pdf)