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CANCELLED: Sociology Colloquium and IBS Speaker Series: The Distribution of Infection in the Early 20th Century United States — And Why It Might Still Matter Today

April 2, 2020 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

We are canceling the remaining IBS Speaker Series for the Spring 2020 semester due to ongoing issues related to COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience and will update you if we are able to reschedule this event. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this unprecedented situation. You may find regular updates about the campus response to coronavirus and ways to protect yourself at colorado.edu/coronavirus.

Please note that this is part of the Department of Sociology's Spring 2020 Colloquium – and so it is happening on a Thursday (not a Monday) and is in Ketchum 1B40 (not IBS 155).

Abstract: The first half of the 20th Century saw a dramatic transformation of mortality in the United States, as infectious disease went from ubiquitous and unpredictable and rare and controllable. This revolution in mortality may shape U.S. population health even today. Diverse evidence suggests that infectious exposures in the first year of life can have lasting consequences for individual health and development, as well as altering population composition through intense early mortality selection. The cohorts born in the first half of the twentieth century United States experienced rapidly and unevenly changing infectious exposures. How might that affect health, and inequality in health, today? This talk establishes some basic descriptive facts about what portion of each cohort experienced high levels of exposure, for different thresholds of “high,” at a low geographic scale. Results track the evolution of exposures over this period from uniformly high, to extremely mixed and variable, to uniformly low — albeit only for whites. These patterns suggest new hypotheses about population health today, and may also ultimately be used to investigate what thresholds of exposure, within the range typically experienced by real cohorts, matter for subsequent health.

Bio: Elizabeth Wrigley-Field is an assistant professor in Sociology at the University of Minnesota, jointly appointed with the Minnesota Population Center. She works on problems that integrate social processes happening on multiple scales, from the micro (such as individuals' immunological development) to irreducibly macro population processes. Her work asks questions such as, how much inequality is hidden because we only measure the people who live long enough to be counted? and, how did cities, for the first time in human history, become the safest places to live beginning around 100 years ago?

Lunch provided.


April 2, 2020
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


CU Population Center
Health and Society Program
CU Boulder Sociology


Ketchum Arts and Sciences University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO
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