Research Project Details
Discipline: Public Health Sociology
Institution: University of Michigan
Population and Ecology Research Laboratory
Principal Investigators: William Axinn (PI), Jennifer Barber, Susan Murphy, Arland Thornton, Tom Fricke
Description: This study was originally funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD R01-HD32912) for a five year period, 1994 through 1999. The study was designed to investigate the influence of changing social contexts on the timing of marriage, childbearing, and contraceptive use. The research investigates the extent to which changes in the community produce changes in family formation behavior, and whether the family organization of individual life courses produces these changes in behavior. The study used a combination of ethnographic and survey research methods to gather 171 neighborhood histories, 142 school histories, 118 health service histories, and 20 bus route histories in Western Chitwan. Personal histories were gathered from the 5271 individuals ages 15-59 years living in these neighborhoods using a semi-structured Life History Calendar and a highly structured survey questionnaire. The sample neighborhoods for this study were chosen to represent the neighborhoods in Western Chitwan, including each of the five major ethnic groups inhabiting the area: high caste Hindus, hill Tibeto-Burmese (such as Gurung, Tamang, and Magar), indigenous terai Tibeto-Burmese (such as Tharu, Darai, and Kumal), Newar, and other caste Hindus.
To answer the questions posed by the original project, and also to answer new questions that arose during the preliminary analysis of the collected data, a five year continuation (1999 through 2004) of the project was granted by NICHD. The grant includes funding for analysis of the data collected under the original grant, as well as to continue the monthly register of demographic events originally funded under the Population and Environment grant. One of the analytic goals of the continuation project focuses on the original research question: To what extent do changes in the social and economic context influence family formation processes (particularly marriage, first birth timing, and contraception)? The continuation project also poses three additional questions. (1) How do qualitative dimensions of these contextual changes, such as the quality of new schools or health services, shape family formation processes? (2) Do neighbors' experiences with social change produce these contextual effects? And (3) Do variations in attitudes and beliefs, or neighbors' attitudes and beliefs, produce these behavioral changes?
Contact: Bill Axinn